Bridget Jones's Baby actress Renee Zellweger sparked further fan concern over her changing features, following an appearance on BBC's One Show on Friday (2 September).

The American actress and producer, who has returned as Bridget after a six-year break from acting, debuted a drastic new look in 2014, sparking speculation that she had plastic surgery and a broader debate about female body image.

And the furore shows no signs of slowing down as Zellweger promotes the new movie, which sees Bridget face childbirth alongside new heartthrob Jack Qwant, played by Patrick Dempsey, and her ex-husband Mark Darcy, a role resumed by Oscar winner Colin Firth.

Fans particularly worried for the star as she appeared on the BBC's flagship afternoon show – with some claiming she looked "unrecognisable" and appearing to "struggle to open her eyes" as she spoke to presenter Alex Jones, reports Mirror Online.

However, Zellweger has always strongly denied having surgery and recently took a stand over those looking to judge her, hitting out at the misinformation in tabloid culture, calling it a "cause for concern and attention".

"It's disconcerting when you see something that you know is not true simply becoming the truth because it's repeated enough," the 47-year-old told BBC News' Fiona Bruce.

The Texan actress, who first played Jones more than 15 years ago, is relaxed and confident about the ageing process and cares little for the spotlight following her sabbatical from acting.

Renee Zellwegger 2000 to 2014
Actress Renee Zellweger pictured in 2000, 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2014 John Schults, Lucy Nicholson, Johannes Eisele, Lucas Jackson and Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Opening up to Mail Online about her eyebrow-raising appearance at Elle magazine's Women In Hollywood Awards two years ago, she said: "I'd been staying with a friend in Los Angeles and the month before she'd been diagnosed with ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a neurological disease].

"The reason I went to that event was that she wanted me to go, so she could be on the red carpet with me and prove to herself she wasn't being defeated by this terrible disease.

"And that's what I was thinking about that day. I wasn't thinking about what I looked like or what people thought. I was thinking about my friend."

Body image battles

The parallels with the off-screen tabloid obsession over her body and the self-confidence struggles Bridget faces on-screen have not been lost on Zellweger, who is keen to stress the positive beauty of age.

"I think a woman only gets more interesting as she gets older. Youth and superficial beauty have their place and that is, understandably, celebrated to a degree. But that's so fleeting and it's only for a moment in your life.

"As you mature, you're not just getting older, you're becoming more of who you are supposed to be, and becoming the best version of yourself, better and more interesting. It's a more powerful beauty and it's a more valuable beauty. Besides – I don't want to stay the same! I'm curious about what comes next!"