NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- British filmmaker Richard Curtis insists he, too, was shocked to hear his longtime friend, author Helen Fielding, killed off the beloved Mark Darcy character in her "Bridget Jones" book series.
News broke this week that Fielding's next novel -- "Mad About the Boy" -- will follow Bridget as she struggles to raise her and Mark's two children five years after her husband is killed in a car crash.
Fielding's prior blockbuster books "Bridget Jones's Diary"  and "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason"  were adapted as hit films in 2001 and 2004, co-written by Curtis and starring Renee Zellweger as irrepressible heroine Bridget, Colin Firth as stuffy good guy Mark and Hugh Grant as scoundrel Daniel, who constantly comes between the lovers.
Asked to comment on the stunning development regarding Darcy's absence from the latest installment of the "Bridget Jones" saga, Curtis told United Press International in New York Wednesday: "I feel very tricked and cheated.
"Helen has been my best friend since I'm 19, but she loves my daughter more than me," the 56-year-old writer-director explained. "My daughter is her goddaughter and [Fielding] has had many conversations with Scarlett about the fact that Mark was going to die and Scarlett had read chunks of the book and no one told me anything until Sunday. So, it was all happening under my nose."
So, might Curtis sign on to pen the screenplay for a third "Bridget Jones" film should the opportunity arise?
"I don't think, probably. I think probably not with Colin gone," he said. "Why would you?"
Curtis' other credits include the classic holiday romance "Love Actually," which also starred Firth and Grant, as well as the films "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Pirate Radio" and "War Horse," and the TV shows "Blackadder," "Mr. Bean" and "The Vicar of Dibley."
Curtis also wrote and directed "About Time," a funny and touching drama about a father and son who can travel back in time and correct mistakes they make in their own lives. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams, the film opens in the United States next month.