Richard Curtis has reflected on the portrayal of women and lack of diversity in his past films including Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.
The director and screenwriter expressed regret over decisions in his previous films during an appearance at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival where he was interviewed by his daughter Scarlett.
During the interview Scarlett raised that there had been “growing criticism around the ways your films treated women and people of colour”, citing descriptions of Bridget Jones as having “tree-trunk thighs” and the lack of diversity in 1999 film Notting Hill (“one of the birthplaces of the British black civil rights movement”).
In response, Curtis said: “I think because I came from a very undiverse school and a bunch of university friends, I think that I hung on to the feeling that I wouldn’t know how to write those parts. I think I was just stupid and wrong about that.
“I felt as though me, my casting director, my producers just didn’t look outwards.”
Speaking specifically about fat jokes, Curtis said: “I remember how shocked I was five years ago when Scarlett said to me, ‘You can never use the word ‘fat’ again.’ Wow you were right. In my generation calling someone chubby [was funny] – in Love Actually there were jokes about that. Those jokes aren’t any longer funny.”
He added: “I think I was unobservant and not as clever as I should have been.”
Curtis previously said that the lack of diversity in Love Actually made him feel “uncomfortable” during a TV special last year.
“There are things that you would change, but thank God society is changing,” he said.
“My film is bound in some moments to feel out of date. The lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid.”