Childhood & Early Life
Renee Zellweger was born to Swiss father Emil Erich Zellweger and Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, and Sami mother, Kjellfrid Irene, in Texas. While her father is a mechanical and electrical engineer, her mother worked as a nurse and midwife
Academically, she gained her preliminary education from Katy High School in Texas. She was different from her female friend in school given her tomboyish attitude. Due to the same, she enjoyed what then was called boy’s stuff, playing sports and gymnastics.
In addition to sports, she loved cheerleading and dramatics. She was also a member of the drama club.
Post high school education, she enrolled at the University of Texas majoring in English language. To complete her degree, she took up drama class as she required a fine arts credit. Little did she realize that it would eventually change the course of her life!
Meanwhile, to support herself financially, she took up job as a waitress. She also acted in a few commercials and the Austin-filmed horror-comedy ‘My Boyfriend's Back’.
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Graduating from college in 1991 with a BA in English, she started auditioning for roles in and around Houston. It was during this time that he landed in her first job that of working in a beef commercial.
From 1992 to 1994, she appeared in minor roles in several films, including, ‘A Taste for Killing’, ‘Murder in the Heartland’, ‘Reality Bites’ and ‘8 Seconds’
Her first breakthrough came in 1994 with the film ‘Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation’ in which she played a major role. Subsequently, she starred in a leading role in the film, ‘Love and a .45’. Her astute portrayal of the character won her an Independent Spirit Award for best debut.
The high reception and appreciation led her to relocate to Los Angeles, the hub of films and entertainment. Her first film after relocation was ‘Empire Records’ released in 1995. The following year, she was seen in the movie, ‘The Whole Wide World’.
The movie, ‘Jerry Maguire’, released in 1996, earned her worldwide appeal and stardom. In the movie, she played the character of Jerry, the love interest of Tom Cruise. The movie gained widespread critical and commercial success.
While she had steadied her base in Hollywood, the big blockbuster success still eluded her. However, 1998 proved to be a super successful year for her with two back to back blockbusters, ‘One True Thing’ and ‘Nurse Betty’. The latter even won her, her first Golden Globe award.
She soon cemented her position as one of the hottest and most bankable stars of Hollywood. What made her different from her counterparts was her willingness to break-from-the-obvious. She dared to play challenging roles, films with varying script and concept movies.
She was next seen playing the love interest of Jim Carrey, Irene P Waters, in the comedy film, ‘Me Myself and Irene’. Directed by Farrell Brothers, the movie had her playing twin characters.
Year 2001 witnessed the release of the critically acclaimed British rom-com movie, ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’. The movie had her play the character of Bridget Jones, a British overweight girl. Interestingly, she had to put on weight and work upon her accent to give authenticity to the character. However, the hard work paid off as she received praise from critics.
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In 2002, two of her movies were released: 'White Oleander’ opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and a directorial venture by Rob Marshall, named ‘Chicago’. The latter was critically acclaimed and won her, her second Golden Globe award.
In 2003, her movie ‘Cold Mountain’ was released. The movie was based on the Civil War and she played the character of Ruby Thewes. The perfection and realism that she brought to the character earned her first Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. She also won the Golden Globe award for the movie.
She was next seen in the sequel of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, titled, ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’. Furthermore, she played voice roles for DreamWorks animated features ‘Shark Tale’ and ‘Bee Movie’.
Her 2005 releases include Ron Howard’s ‘Cinderella Man’ opposite Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti and a biopic on the singing legend Janis Joplin, ‘Piece of My Heart’. Additionally, she starred and produced the movie, ‘Miss Potter’ based on the story of the author Beatrix Potter.
Three years later, she starred in the western movie, ‘Appaloosa’ and the period comedy ‘Leatherheads’, opposite George Clooney. Additionally she produced the film, ‘Living Proof’.
Year 2009 was a busy year for this talented actress as she had a couple of projects scheduled for release. She was cast in the film, ‘My One and Only’, ‘New in Town’, and starred in the psychological horror film ‘Case 39’ as a social worker.
As of now, her last movie to be released was the 2010 drama, ‘My Own Love Song’ in which she played a former singer suffering from paralysis.
Personal Life & Legacy
She has been in a number of romantic relationships, starting from a short-timed but much publicized affair with Jim Carrey. Later on, she was involved with The White Stripes singer Jack White to whom she was linked with for two years.
She finally tied the knot with singer Kenny Chesney on May 9, 2005. However, just after four months of marriage, they annulled their marriage.
It was rumoured that she was involved with actor Bradley Cooper for a year or two.