Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor as love interests in two very different romances…
When Renee Zellweger met Ewan McGregor in Down with Love and Miss Potter.
Two stars appearing in only two movies together. Sounds easier than it sounds? Well, no. First choices Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have been paired off three times, so that ruled them out as
thankfully Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp (yawn) did so many more (and feels like even more than many more).
So after much online dithering went for this pair.. over pairings like… Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy. I
stupidly gave away my prized copy of Fresh Horses (1988) years ago to someone crazier about movies than me. But was probably to Darlin’ Husband’s relief as he didn’t have to sit through Pretty in Pink (1986) again… Also considered were Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton and the movie pairing of Sally Field and Michael Caine.
I didn’t want to go for a movie pairing who were romantically involved off-screen at the time of filming those two movies ruling out quite a few couples or ex-partners. This, as there is nothing worse than some random person harping on about how good and happy you looked with your ex (especially acting in a romance on-screen) when you’ve moved on and are happily ensconced with someone else.. (luckily never had that problem).
So to these movies, the films being Miss Potter and Down with Love. Firstly, if you haven’t seen these movies expect a huge dollop of romance between the Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger characters in both. And yes, I have reviewed both these films, but not together. So to begin with you can read more lengthy spoiler-free ramblings on these films here for Miss Potter and here for Down with Love…
Now let’s go to the movies to see Zellweger-McGregor magical on-screen (and off-screen) chemistry… (expect some spoilers)
Miss Potter (2006)
19th Century writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter (Renee Zellweger) writes her first children’s “bunny book” then meets and falls in love with her publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor).
I loved this biopic love story between Beatrix Potter and her publisher Norman Warne. This movie pairing made a sweet believable 19th Century English couple in this film. This compared with Down With Love where McGregor was more cheeky chappie and annoyingly with it.
This in spite of Zellweger adopting her twee British Bridget Jones voice in the initial narrated prologue which really vexed me. McGregor kept his accent (yay) with his soft Scottish tones. Here, he is shyer, almost bumbling and therefore more endearing as a character than his Down with Love playboy, more cocky one.
Their initial scenes together are charming where their characters meet and you can feel an attraction which becomes clear in scenes where he encourages her writing and she meets his family. The scene where they dance is delightful reminding us romantics of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965). But without that Baroness and those pesky kids…
Then there’s the scene where McGregor sings to her, his singing adding to the ethereal romance of this film couple. And when he finally kisses her… you are almost relieved you weren’t reading too much into their characters. I for one kept muttering “Go for it Ewan!” on watching it. I’d like to think this kind of romantic moment, happened to the real Beatrix Potter too.
And don’t get me started on his wee proposal – and just not of the book kind – leading to repercussions for all – and cue this reviewer’s sobbing. As it was a real blow when Beatrix saw Warne off on a train, after this proposal and then the scriptwriters killed him off off-screen (as no doubt McGregor headed for his next movie appearance). We were as devastated as poor Beatrix, who had a major bit of a crush on him.. despite his villainous-looking 19th Century moustache. And you did feel for the real-life Beatrix. But still, she got a nice wee soppy ending, albeit with someone else to end the movie.
And a few wee quotes from the pair on this film…
An article on a joint press conference for the pair attended by New York Cool on the movie, this tells us about the casting of McGregor who she emailed requesting him to join her in this film…
Renee Zellweger: My plan was to beg and grovel and then to beg and grovel some more. There is a scene where Beatrix and Norman are alone in her room for the first time [no sex – all four feet on the floor] and there is so much subtext that needs to be communicated and I knew Ewan has such a gift for communicating these things honestly.
and from a lovely wee article in USA Today showing they have an infectiously fun relationship off-screen the article adds her fun discovery when making this their second movie…
“I was surprised by your massive ability to grow such a stunning mustache,” she says. “Surprise!”
McGregor humbly accepts the praise. “It took me a couple of months. It’s quite difficult to pull off in contemporary life, a big mustache like that. People wonder what you’re playing at.”
Down with Love (2003)
Down With Love Trailer, justjillo
A romantic comedy set in 1962 about an authoress Barbara Novak (Zellweger) who is advocating more independence for women falls for a man Catcher Block (McGregor), little suspecting he is a journalist hoping to write an expose on her.
This being a homage to the Battle of the Sexes Doris Day and Rock Hudson comedies, it has got that sexual undercurrent throughout. Observant readers will note, it was made before Miss Potter. Zellweger sweetly asked McGregor as her love interest for Miss Potter after starring with McGregor in this film.
Their on-screen chemistry was more evident here in my rewatch, and written after my first review. Admittedly after seeing more of Miss Potter again and despite the fact that he was a playboy type character. McGregor’s on-screen chemistry with Zellweger on-screen simmered to boiling point in some of their scenes. These were much more flirty than in Miss Potter, due to the time the movie was set no doubt where in Miss Potter a coy glance from underneath a big hat was a good sign.
The most memorable scene has to be that famously well set up and written, split-screen telephone conversation. This scene with the sexual innuendo-laden script and accompanying actions supported the differing sides of conversation so effectively. Another scene to look out for is the repercussions of when Barbara and Catcher’s scenes together towards the end of the film, as these scenes were mesmerisingly hypnotic especially with her wee monologue. Yet so reminiscent of those Doris Day movies.
A few wee quotes from the pair on this film...
From a joint press conference for the pair attended by New York Cool
“Ewan McGregor: We had such a great time together on the set of Down With Love. I am very proud of that movie; but it was very stylized.
Renee Zellweger: We did not have a point of reference for the stylized type of acting [in Down With Love]. So it was really wonderful to just “be” in this film [Miss Potter].”
So the big question is, should the third outing of these two stars get the green light? I’d say I’m undecided, after reading that USA Today article. Miss Potter‘s director Chris Noonan says Zellweger and McGregor were…
“like two peas in a pod. They love to have a good time, and they would always joke with each other. Ewan particularly was getting Renee to break into giggles in the middle of a scene.”
I’d add a storyline that has possibly has been explored as I’m sure some Zellweger – or McGregor – fan has made one earlier, in the form of Miss Potter’s Down with Love in a mash-up of these films. Probably ending with their natty song and dance number from Down with Love as McGregor and Zellweger’s characters live happily ever after…. and that is how we should leave them.
NOT with another movie, I mean just how many women were disillusioned upset by Kate Winslet’s on-screen reunion with Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road after Titanic. It was a film journey none of us wanted to take… in what Darlin’ Husband calls the Titanic sequel and what may have happened with Titanic‘s star crossed lovers, Jack and Rose.
Duo Double Feature Blogathon 2017, No 50
These films were reviewed for the Duo Double Feature Blogathon run by the Flapper Dame and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. Down with Love and Miss Potter were reviewed long before this post. Other films with these casts include Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Baby trailer review and in Chicago. Ewan McGregor stars in Moulin Rouge. Miss Potter star Bill Paterson stars in the first series of Outlander.