Space travel is a very exclusive club, with just over 500 people in world history having been granted the opportunity to free themselves from Earth’s confines. If and when billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic adds to the number, Stephen Hawking will be on the passenger list.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain, the 75-year-old physicist said that Branson has invited him on the space company’s maiden voyage and that he has accepted.
“Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately,” he said. “I can tell you what will make me happy—to travel in space.”
Branson’s Virgin Galactic was conceived in 2004 as a way of commercial industry supplementing government-funded programs like NASA and allowing for private citizens to take sub-orbital flights. Branson originally promised the first flight would happen in 2007, but years of delays have pushed the date back. In 2014, co-pilot Michael Alsbury was killed during a test flight.
Branson is still actively working toward a start date within the next few years that would see passengers pay up to $250,000 a ticket in order to experience zero gravity. For the first official flight, Branson expects to be on board with family members—and, presumably, Hawking, although it’s unknown what kind of medical clearance Virgin Galactic needs or whether Hawking’s age or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affliction would prove to be obstacles.
While it's not officially a holiday movie, so much of the action in Bridget Jones's Diary happens around the most wonderful time of the year that the rom-com has become essential wintertime viewing for many movie fans. Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, ittells the story of a very single, and hopelessly romantic, working professional named Bridget (Renée Zellweger) who is determined to improve her love life. Enter two strapping gentlemen (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) to vie for her heart. Get to know more about the timeless dramedy that’s been delighting audiences since 2001. Just as it is.
1. THE SOURCE NOVEL CAME ABOUT FROM AN ANONYMOUS COLUMN ABOUT SINGLE LIFE.
In the foreword of Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Helen Fielding wrote about how she came to conjure up the story: “The Independent asked me to write a column, as myself, about single life in London. Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing. I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character. I assumed no one would read it, and it would be dropped after six weeks for being too silly.”
2. SEVERAL CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON PEOPLE IN HELEN FIELDING’S LIFE.
These include Jude (Tracey MacLeod) and Shazzer (Sharon Maguire, also the film’s director). In a column for the Evening Standard, MacLeod described how she didn’t even realize she inspired part of her best friend’s story until Fielding’s book launch party. “At the launch party for the first Bridget book, I was cornered by a smug married friend, ‘So ... what's it like being Jude?’ she asked,” MacLeod writes. “I was outraged. Of course I wasn't Jude, with her self-help books and horrible boyfriend. My boyfriend wasn't anything like Vile Richard ... But as more people began to believe that Jude and Shazzer were thinly-veiled portraits of myself and Sharon, I secretly got to like the idea.”
3. TONI COLLETTE DECLINED THE LEAD, AND KATE WINSLET WAS CONSIDERED FOR IT.
Before Zellweger stole the show, Aussie Toni Collette and Brit Kate Winslet were up for the part. According to AMC, “Toni Collette declined the role because she was on Broadway starring in The Wild Party at the time, and Kate Winslet was considered but the producers decided she was too young.”
4. HUGH GRANT ONLY SIGNED ON WHEN RICHARD CURTIS WAS ANNOUNCED AS THE WRITER.
“The only reason [I was a hard sell] was because I didn't feel they had the script quite right for a long time,” Firth told Cinema.com. “And I kept saying, ‘It's not working. Just get Richard Curtis to come in and help rewrite it.’ Eventually they did, and as soon as Richard came on board, I signed on the dotted line. So that's all it was.”
5. RENÉE ZELLWEGER GAINED 17 POUNDS FOR THE PART.
Zellweger’s weight gain for the role had the media abuzz for a while. According to The Guardian, “In order to play the eponymous heroine in the film adaptation of Fielding's bestseller, the actress gained 17 pounds, consulting a dietitian and endocrinologist who devised a regime of three full meals a day, multiple snacks, and no exercise.”
6. ZELLWEGER WORKED AT PICADOR FOR THREE WEEKS.
Zellweger went full Method for her iconic role, and became a temporary employee of the Picador publishing house. “We came up with a plan: she would be Bridget Cavendish, Bridget for obvious reasons and Cavendish as she was to be passed off as the sister of Jonathan Cavendish, a friend of one of our company chairmen,” Picador publicist Camilla Elworthy toldThe Guardian. “That last bit at least is true, and no one was to know that Jonathan Cavendish was one of the film's producers.”
7. ZELLWEGER KEPT A PHOTO OF JIM CARREY ON HER DESK.
While working at Picador, Zellweger kept a picture of Jim Carrey on her desk—which made her alter ego Bridget Cavendish seem like some sort of obsessed fan. “Under the name Bridget Cavendish, she answered phones, served coffee, and made photocopies—without being recognized by any of her co-workers, who offered career advice and wondered privately why she kept a photo of Jim Carrey (her then-boyfriend) on her desk,” noted Hollywood.com.
8. ZELLWEGER INVITED HER BOSS AT PICADOR TO BE AN EXTRA ON SET.
In Camilla Elworthy’s write-up for The Guardian, she noted how she became a part of the production. “Renée sent me a thank you letter and gift after she'd gone and I have seen her a few times since then," Elworthy wrote. "She invited me on to the film set one day. She informed me that I had to stick around and be an extra and made sure that I was put somewhere that I would be seen ... As a result, half my head can be seen for half a nano-second in the launch party scene.”
9. THE EPIC FIGHT SCENE BETWEEN GRANT AND COLIN FIRTH WASN’T CHOREOGRAPHED.
You can thank the two actors for the hilarity of the iconic scene. In a Vulture article about the greatest fight scenes in movie history, writer Denise Martin recalled the improvised spar, writing, “No stunt coordinators. No elaborate choreography. Just a perfectly realized wimp brawl between two upper-middle-class Englishmen coming to awkward fisticuffs in front of a Greek restaurant.”
10. FIELDING ASKED FRIEND SALMAN RUSHDIE TO CAMEO IN THE FILM.
Recalling how he came to be part of the film, famed novelist Salman Rushdie told Texas Monthly, “Helen Fielding, the author of the book, is an old pal of mine, and she asked if I’d come along and make a fool of myself, and I said, ‘Why not?’”
11. GRANT DIDN’T HEAR ZELLWEGER SPEAK IN HER AMERICAN ACCENT UNTIL THE FILM’S WRAP PARTY.
Zellweger was so engrossed with Bridget Jones that one of her leading love interests didn’t meet the real actress until the end of the shoot. “Not once did she stop speaking with that accent, until the wrap party,” Grant told Cinema.com, “when suddenly this weird ... Texan appeared. I wanted to call security, I didn't know who the f*ck she was!”
The Most Popular Christmas Candy in Each State, Mapped
BY Kirstin Fawcett
December 10, 2017
For those who didn’t get their full candy fix last Halloween, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to indulge. From candy canes to chocolate Santas, there’s something for everyone—but before splurging on sweet stocking stuffers, check out the interactive map below. Created by bulk candy retailer CandyStore.com, it breaks down the top three favorite candies in each state.
To determine which Christmas treats were the most popular, the team at CandyStore.com surveyed over 50,000 customers and spoke with major candy manufacturers and distributors. Not surprisingly, candy canes were a hit in numerous states, including Washington, Delaware, Vermont, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. California, Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas residents, however, got into the seasonal spirit with peppermint bark. North Dakota residents preferred chocolate Santas. And Alabama, Michigan, and Utah liked Jelly Belly’s Reindeer Corn.
Christmas candy sales in America are projected to rake in nearly $2 billion for confectioners, according to an estimate provided by the National Confectionary Association. Spend your holiday bonus wisely on treats everyone will appreciate by checking out CandyStore.com’s full results below.