NEW YORK – Renée Zellweger says she's ready to pack on the pounds again -- in the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary.
"I'm ready, willing and able. Bridget's a character I really identify with," a beaming Zellweger said yesterday.
"I'll put the weight back on with pleasure."
That means the sexy blonde will purposely gain as many as 20 pounds over the next few months as she prepares to shoot The Edge of Reason.
And at an estimated salary of $20 million for her services, that means Zellweger will earn about $1 million for every pound.
The first Jones flick, based on Helen Fielding's best-seller about a love-hungry British girl with a string of bad luck, was a smash around the world and was immediately pegged for a sequel.
But until yesterday, there was doubt that Zellweger, now starring in the Golden Globe-winning Chicago, would take another crack at the character.
Last year, she fumed to a reporter: "There is no way I am going to put on all that weight again."
But she was apparently persuaded by Colin Firth, her on-screen lover in the first film, who is expected to reprise his role as Mark Darcy.
She may also have to gain a bit less weight than she did first time around -- since the plot involves her doing time in a Thai jail for drug smuggling, slimming her down.
The Edge of Reason is expected to be released in summer 2004.