Actress Renee Zellweger has had an acclaimed career, getting her start in Hollywood in the ’90s and soaring to new heights with films such as Jerry McGuire and Judy. But there is much more to this two-time Academy Award-winning actress than the characters she plays. From the angry end to her first engagement to the sad reason she won the title character in Bridget Jones’s Diary, here are little-known facts about the one and only Renee Zellweger.
Tom Cruise Hand-Picked Her For Jerry McGuire
Before the 1996 film Jerry McGuire, Renee Zellweger was pretty much a no-name actress, appearing in nothing but minor roles. That all changed when the film’s lead actor, Tom Cruise, fought to have her as his character’s love interest, Dorothy Boyd.
The role put Zellweger on the map and pretty much catapulted her to Hollywood stardom. The role earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role nomination.
She Gave Jim Carrey An Ultimatum
After filming Me, Myself & Irene, the film’s stars, Renee Zellweger and Jim Carrey, began dating. Things between the two got steamy in the late 90s, and Carrey wound up giving the actress a $200,000 engagement ring!
After two failed marriages, though, Carrey was in no rush to tie the knot again. Eventually, Zellweger gave him an ultimatum: “Set a wedding date or else!” Well, the “or else” happened, and Carrey jet off on what was supposed to be their pre-honeymoon to Hawaii.
Her Bridget Jones Diet Was A Whole Lot Of Junk Food
For those who don’t know, Renee Zellweger went under a massive transformation for her role as the title character n Bridget Jones’s Diary. And the transformation had nothing to do with prosthetics or makeup. It all had to do with weight.
Zellweger gained a solid 30 pounds for the role. And, to do so, she veered away from “healthy weight gain dieting.” Instead, she indulged in yummy desserts, pizza, and protein shakes.
She Won Bridget Jones For A Horrible Reason
Many people know Renee Zellweger from her work on the Bridget Jones franchise. The rom-com is a classic, made all the better by Zellweger’s beautiful performance. Unfortunately, the reason she won the role is a bit dark.
For the role of the title character, Zellweger was up against Rachel Weisz. She wound up beating Weisz because the casting directors believed Weisz was “too beautiful” for the role. That tidbit might have been best off staying in the directors’ heads.
Tom Cruise Sends Her Annual Gifts
Each December, Renee Zellweger can expect to get something in the mail from her Jerry McGuire co-star Tom Cruise. Apparently, the actor has made it a habit to send his former co-stars annual holiday gifts, and Zellweger is no different.
Each year, he ships out a freshly baked white chocolate coconut bundt bake from Doan’s Bakery in Woodland Hills, California. Everyone who receives the sugar cake raves about it, including Zellweger!
The Iconic Line, “You Had Me At Hello,” Was A Struggle
Renee Zellweger is lucky enough to have one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history under her belt — “You had me at hello,” from Jerry McGuire. Interestingly, that line almost broke the actress’s career before it began.
Apparently, she didn’t understand what the line meant, originally thinking it was a typo. Tack on the fact that Zellweger didn’t know how to deliver the line, Tom Cruise probably was rethinking his casting selection. Obviously, she figured it out.
The Popular Girl In High School
Unlike most people who are going through their “awkward phase” in high school, Renee Zellweger’s experience is pretty much straight out of an 80s rom-com. Not only was she a cheerleader, but she was also part of the debate team, a gymnast, and participated in multiple other sports, including the all-girl football team, where she was the MVP.
Oh, and she was also the Homecoming Queen and named the ultimate “Dream Date” by her classmates.
Fixing Her Teeth When Her Golden Globe Win Was Announced
In 2000, Renee Zellweger snagged her first Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. It was for her performance in the black comedy Nurse Betty. Unlike other actors who win awards, standing up from their seats in the crowd, Zellweger was somewhere else entirely.
She was at the ceremony but just so happened to be in the bathroom trying to get lipstick off her teeth when Hugh Grant announced she had won the award!
The Six-Year Hiatus Was Due To Fatigue
Fans of Renee Zellweger might remember her six-year Hollywood hiatus, after the film My Own Love Song was released in 2010. After the movie’s release, Zellweger said goodbye to Hollywood, later stating she did it for mental health reasons.
During an interview with British Vogue, the actress said, “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.”
She Starred In A “Shelved” Slasher Flick
While Renee Zellweger shot to stardom from starring in Jerry McGuire beside Tom Cruise, she actually starred alongside another famous name in a slasher flick. In 1994, she starred in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation alongside Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.
Many people have never heard of The Next Generation, though, and for a good reason. The studio decided to shelve the film, electing to release it only after their two leads made names for themselves in Hollywood.
British Accent Or Bust
Many actors go full-on method when they’re getting into a role. And while she doesn’t do it often, Renee Zellweger decided it was necessary for Bridget Jones’s Diary. Even when the cameras weren’t rolling, Zellweger would speak to the cast and crew in her character’s British accent.
However, she was born and raised in Texas! Zellweger’s co-star, Hugh Grant, confessed to not hearing her normal voice until the wrap party came around.
A Re-Audition Landed Her A Role In Chicago
In 2002, Renee Zellweger played the role of Roxie Hart in the hit musical Chicago. And while the part earned her an Academy Award nomination, she didn’t originally win the role.
At first, Charlize Theron was cast as Roxie. But when the director changed over to Rob Marshall, he had Theron re-audition for the part. In the end, he gave Theron the boot and chose Zellweger to be his new Roxie.
She Was In A Fire With A Famous Ex-Boyfriend
From 2009 to 2011, Renee Zellweger was in a relationship with her Case 39 co-star Bradley Cooper. Unfortunately, the two wound up in a situation no couple ever wants to be in — a fire.
While they were at Cooper’s family’s house, a fire started. The two actors were watching TV when it began and, thankfully, were able to call 9-1-1 and safely get out of the house. Still, what a horrific experience.
At First, She Wasn’t Sure About Judy
The 2019 biopic Judy earned Renee Zellweger more than one award, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and even an Academy Award for Best Actress. Even so, Zellweger wasn’t overly confident in the role when it was first offered.
During an interview, she said, “At first, I didn’t understand why they thought of me for it.” The part contained no lip-syncing, so she had to perform each song in front of a live audience. That’ more than a little nerve-wracking!
Liza Minnelli Wasn’t Here For Zellweger’s Judy Performance
The year 2019 was huge for Renee Zellweger. It was the year she landed the role of Judy Garland in the biographical drama Judy. While most people were excited to get an inside look at the Wizard of Oz star’s life, there was one person who wasn’t excited about the film.
Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, went on record, saying, “[I do] not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way.”
She Has A History With More Than One Musician
Renee Zellweger might have former flings who are actors, but she also has a thing for musicians. Throughout her dating history, Zellweger has been paired with White Stripes drummer Jack White and Pariah guitarist Sim Ellison.
Most recently, the actress was dating Doyle Bramhall II, a singer, songwriter, and producer who has worked alongside the likes of Eric Clapton and Roger Waters. She also had a quick wedding and annulment from a top country artist. More on that soon.
Plastic Surgery Or Simply Aging?
After Renee Zellweger came back to the limelight after six years of taking care of herself, people were quick to comment on her looks. It wasn’t that she had gained weight as she did for Bridget Jones, but something else.
People were accusing the actress of going under the knife and getting work done on her face. Zellweger was quick to shut those rumors down, telling news outlets that she was, simply put, aging.
She Had A Quick Wedding And A Quick Annulment
In 2005, Renee Zellweger married country singer Kenny Chesney. Fans of the actress thought the pairing was a strange choice that wouldn’t necessarily last. And, as it turns out, they were right.
The pair were married in a quick 15-minute ceremony. Four months after the small affair, the newlyweds split and arranged for an annulment. Clearly, they seemed to completely bypass the honeymoon phase of the relationship and went straight for a breakup.
She Became A PR Assistant For A Role
To get into the correct mindset for her titular role in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Renee Zellweger took on a mundane job as a public relations assistant at Picador, the publishing company in London that released the original Bridget Jones novel.
She took her job very seriously, acting professional and as if she wasn’t there for research. Her main job was to cut newspaper clippings about the upcoming film that she happened to be starring in.
Her Dream Role Went To Nicole Kidman
Losing out on roles to other actors is the name of the game in the entertainment industry. And Renee Zellweger is no exception to that fact. More than once, the actress has lost out on some iconic roles.
But the role she’s most sad about has to be that of Satine in Moulin Rouge! It was Zellweger’s dream role, and she lost out on it to Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman.