Having already won two Oscars during her dextrous acting career, Renée Zellweger needs little introduction. But despite being a world-famous movie star, she seems more content living a quiet life away from the media spotlight. And while there’s always a lot of speculation about Zellweger’s personal life, it doesn’t seem to faze her, as the actor told the New York Post in 2019, “I feel happier than I have in decades … I feel like have clarity about things that I might have questioned in the past and the freedom to do what I want.”
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 2019, Zellweger also suggested that taking time away from the limelight is crucial to her well-being. “I find that when I focus most of my energy on the people who are closest to me and I spend time nurturing my internal self, my curiosity, learning, growing, becoming a better person, that I do a better job of it when I keep it small,” she explained. “I’m a better daughter. I’m a better friend. I’m a better actress. I think I’m a better human being.”
Even though Zellweger likes to keep her private life on the down low, she’s opened up on occasion, giving fans more information about the person behind the star. Join us as we explore moments when Renée Zellweger revealed intimate details about her life.
Renée Zellweger's parents' 'ship started on a ship
As far as meet-cutes go, Renée Zellweger’s parents have a de-yacht-ful story to tell. In a 2019 interview with the New York Post, Zellweger revealed, “They met on a ship when my mother and her friends were on line to go to dinner … He asked her to dinner.” As the publication explained, her mom and dad first crossed paths “in the early 1960s when her Norwegian-born mother, a former midwife named Kjellfrid Andreassen, was on vacation in Denmark with her girlfriends, and her Swiss father, Emil, was traveling around Europe with his buddies.” Love blossomed during the trip, and Zellweger’s parents quickly made plans to start a life together.
When a governess gig sent the actor’s mom to America, her dad went with to Houston. “She wanted to be someplace where it was warm,” Zellweger explained to the Post. “Dad said he’d follow her. Mom said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ Being Swiss and being my father, he showed up the minute he said he would.” In 2019, during a roundtable discussion with Los Angeles Times, Zellweger also attributed her lack of social media to her upbringing. “My parents are very private people,” she revealed. “And we didn’t talk about family things out in public. And I just feel uncomfortable with it. And I think our generation is probably the last to have some expectation of privacy.”
A break from Hollywood was crucial for Renée Zellweger
As fans of the Chicago star will know, Renée Zellweger took a break from Hollywood at the height of her career, and she’s been candid about why she needed that breather. After 2010’s My Own Love Song, the actor took a step back, and didn’t return to our screens until 2016, when she appeared in The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves, and reprised her leading role in Bridget Jones’s Baby. In 2019, she told Vulture that those were “important” years off. “You’re not in people’s consciousness anymore, so they don’t immediately make the connection,” she added. “It’s a quieter life, and I love it.” As for why she needed that time away from her busy acting career, Zellweger explained, “I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the last thing on my list of priorities.”
In 2016, Zellweger elaborated on her long break from Hollywood, and told British Vogue (via Vanity Fair), “I was fatigued and wasn’t taking the time I needed to recover between projects, and it caught up with me … I got sick of the sound of my own voice: it was time to go away and grow up a bit.” As a result, she found a plethora of positives in not living the life of a celebrity for a while. “I found anonymity, so I could have exchanges with people on a human level,” she shared.
The 'blur' that is Renée Zellweger's 30s
Having been catapulted to stardom in her mid-twenties after acting opposite Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Renée Zellweger doesn’t really recall much that happened over the next decade or so. Discussing her impressive career with Vulture in 2019, Zellweger said, “If I could remember more of it, that would be nice, because my 30s are a blur. I think I just didn’t sit still long enough to actually let anything soak in.” She went on to tell the outlet that she has “absolutely no recall” when others try to reminisce with her about stories from that time. She continued, “What’s my girlfriend say? The file cabinet is bound to get full at some point, and something’s got to fall out the back.” It would seem that Zellweger’s fast-paced lifestyle is what, in part, led to her taking a break from her career.
Zellweger also opined the dangers of pursuing a career in entertainment at a young age, especially as there are things a person might miss out on in life. She mused to Vulture, “When you’re not grounded, how can you have boundaries?” And when the interviewer noted that it’s not possible to “just grind on forever,” Zellweger emotionally replied, “Well, you can … But then you’re really unhealthy and unbalanced and, you know, about to die. And then you look back on it and wonder what happened. And where are the relationships that you didn’t have a chance to nurture?”
The Bridget Jones days were 'lonely' for Renée Zellweger
If Jerry Maguire made Renée Zellweger a bona fide star, then the Bridget Jones movies catapulted her to the stratosphere. Playing the unlucky-in-love Bridget Jones was a once-in-a-lifetime role for Zellweger, and she reportedly beat out a slew of high-profile actors for the part, such as Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, and Helena Bonham Carter. However, filming the first movie in the franchise on location in London wasn’t an idyllic experience for Zellweger in many respects. She told New York Post in 2019, “Making Bridget Jones’s Diary was very challenging personally … It was bittersweet. It was a lonely experience being away [from America] that long.” According to IMDb, the first Bridget Jones movie was shot in the United Kingdom between May 16 and August 8, 2000.
However, it seems that some aspects of English life slowly started to grow on her. In 2019, Zellweger opened up to British ELLE about some of the things she’s come to love about England, having returned to shoot both Bridget Jones sequels there. Speaking about British cuisine, Zellweger enthused, “I like mushy peas, especially when you mix it all together with the fish and the chips all in the same bite.” She also revealed a penchant for English breakfast tea, which she takes, “Strong. Very strong. Almost illegally strong. Like a bad idea.” Sounds like she adjusted quite nicely after all.
Renée Zellweger on those plastic surgery rumors
In 2014, during her self-imposed break from Hollywood, Renée Zellweger made an appearance at ELLE magazine’s annual Women in Hollywood event. Media speculation arose about her fresh-faced appearance, with many critics suggesting that she’d had plastic surgery in the intervening years. “Ms. Zellweger looks beautiful but does not look like Ms. Zellweger,” The New York Times wrote. Meanwhile, one male critic at The Guardian discussed “Zellweger’s facial rearrangement,” suggesting that the movie star would be offered very different roles on account of her allegedly different visage. However, it’s hard not to see the intense criticism of and speculation about Zellweger’s appearance as misogyny, something that the two-time Oscar winner wrote about in an emotional essay for HuffPost in 2016.
“Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes,” Zellweger wrote. “This fact is of no true import to anyone at all, but that the possibility alone was discussed among respected journalists and became a public conversation is a disconcerting illustration of news/entertainment confusion and society’s fixation on physicality.” In 2014, she also released a statement to People magazine (via TIME), which said, “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” She continued, “My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy.”
Renée Zellweger addresses the #MeToo movement
In December 2017, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Harvey Weinstein amid the #MeToo movement. In the filing, actor Melissa Sagemiller reportedly claimed that Weinstein had alleged stars like Charlize Theron and Renée Zellweger gave him “sexual favors,” per Vulture. However, Zellweger’s representative staunchly denied the allegations, and the A-lister opened up to Vulture about working in Hollywood and being caught in the middle of the scandal. “I’m sure that I was on the receiving end of something that I don’t even know about, in conversations that I wasn’t privy to,” she told the publication. “But it wasn’t something that I felt, it wasn’t something that I was aware of. I was very surprised by some of the things that were unearthed. I didn’t know.”
During her discussion with Vulture, Zellweger addressed her experiences in the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. “It’s a hard thing to talk about in this context,” she said. “It’s such a big topic. And it’s personal and it’s not.” She went on to note that “it’s something that’s always been there and the shift is overdue and you could feel it coming for a while and it was inevitable. And thank God.” Zellweger also told the outlet that she “was never a victim of it.” It sounds as though she was never on the receiving end of any inappropriate behavior, but working in the industry has clearly impacted the actor in a multitude of ways.
Write on, Renée Zellweger
While it’s hard to imagine Renée Zellweger as anything other than a multi-award-winning star, she originally wanted to pursue a career in writing. In 2019, the Cold Mountain actor told The Guardian, “When the Easter bunny was coming, I would always wish for the same thing — I loved a tablet of fresh ruled paper and sharp pencils. There’s nothing better — stories, poetry, the possibilities were endless.” She attributed her creativity to her parents, with The Guardian explaining, “Her mother was Norwegian, and her father Swiss, which made her feel different.” Zellweger said of her artistic sensibilities, “I very much feel my Texan roots, but there’s no denying that I’m a child of European people.”
Zellweger was so serious about becoming a writer that she pursued a degree in journalism. However, it wasn’t long before her natural acting talents shone through, and Zellweger found herself on stage while at college. “Rather than continue on to get my journalism degree, I finished up quickly with my lit degree, just to see where [acting] would go,” she told The Guardian. “I figured I could always go back and get a master’s, and finally submit to the Daily Texan!” But as fate would have it, Zellweger was destined for other things.
You won't hear much about Renée Zellweger's love life
In addition to not being on social media, Renée Zellweger prides herself on keeping her personal life personal—despite being known the world over as an incredible silver screen talent. When asked about her love life by The Guardian in 2019, Zellweger confirmed only that she’s committed to maintaining her privacy when she’s not making movies. “It’s not difficult at all,” she explained. “You just don’t talk about it, you don’t post it … I know it’s so boring when you’re trying to talk to an actress and she’s being all cryptic and whatever. But I like to keep it…” According to The Guardian, Zellweger “mimes a zipping action” at this point in the interview, indicating that she will continue to be tight-lipped about her future romances.
But it’s not just her love life that is off-limits. As Zellweger, whose relationship history includes Jim Carrey and Bradley Cooper, told The Guardian, “It isn’t easy to be an actor who disappears when you have no mystery. … I think a little mystery never hurt a girl.” And since her return to the spotlight in 2016, which has even seen her take home an Oscar for 2019’s Judy Garland-biopic Judy, Zellweger has proven that her career is just fine without courting any excess public attention.
Renée Zellweger identifies with strong women
Unsurprisingly, Renée Zellweger is all about feminism. As The Guardian wrote in a 2019 interview with the actor, “Zellweger identifies as a feminist, and admires the women who came forward [during the #MeToo movement].” Regarding the women who broke their silence, she said, “It gives you strength in numbers, doesn’t it? It enables you to, in some way, begin to heal.” Zellweger also acknowledged that it is a “very delicate moment where there’s fear and so everybody is hyper-aware of the decisions they make and what they say.” She went on to say that it should be “interesting” to see how it all shakes out.
In fact, looking to the future of Hollywood, she appeared to be hopeful about the way things had been moving. “But change is inevitable because there’s this new generation of women who are coming of age, and producing things, in every industry, not just Hollywood,” she told The Guardian. “They’re not waiting for permission because they don’t need to — and it never occurred to them that they needed to.” As Zellweger continues to build her incredible legacy in Hollywood, we’re excited to see all of the projects she takes on next.
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