Renee Zellweger Film and Career
Up until she appeared opposite Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1996), Renee Zellweger’s name was almost unknown outside of Hollywood and the independent film circuit. The beauty and natural ability that Zellweger exhibited as Cruise’s love interest caught the attention of critics and audiences alike. Though she was passed by at that year’s Oscars, she won several other awards for her work, including the title of Best Breakthrough Performer by the National Board of Review.
Of Swiss and Norwegian parentage, the willowy, strawberry blonde actress was born in Katy, TX, a small town located near Houston. The town was so small that it possessed neither cable television nor a movie theater. As a result, Zellweger reportedly did not see her first art film until she was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. Her career at U.T. was an exceptional one; a regular on the dean’s list, she graduated a year early with a B.A. in Radio, Film, and Television.
While in college, Zellweger took an acting class and discovered a knack for performing; following graduation, she made her feature-film debut with a bit part in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993). She had her first real role playing a whacked-out waitress in Love and a .45 (1994), for which she won her first Independent Spirit Award nomination; she won a second nomination for The Whole Wide World (1996), earning additional acclaim at various film festivals.
Following the tremendous success of Jerry Maguire, Zellweger went on to prove herself as a versatile actress able to play roles ranging from an ambitious journalist (who temporarily shelves her career to care for her mother) in One True Thing (1998) to a rebellious Hassidic Jew in Boaz Yakin’s A Price Above Rubies (1998). She then exhibited a capacity for romantic comedy in The Bachelor (1999), starring as the long-suffering girlfriend of a serial commitment-phobic Chris O’Donnell. Zellweger’s second role as a whacked-out waitress in Nurse Betty won her the Best Actress in a Comedy Award at the 2000 Golden Globes.
Nominated for yet another Golden Globe the following year for her memorable performance in Bridget Jones’ Diary, that same role also earned Zellweger her maiden Oscar nod. The following few years found Zellweger’s leading lady status growing and numerous lucrative film offers flowing in, and the release of White Oleander (2002) the starlet recieved numerous positive reviews despite the films lackluster performance.
Later that same year, Zellweger was on top of the world when she recieved rave reviews for her role in Chicago. Based on the popular Broadway musical of the same name, director Rob Marshall’s flashy cinematic extravaganza recieved nearly unanimous praise accompanied by multiple Academy Award nominations, including a second Best Actress in a Leading Role nod to Ms. Zellweger for her lively performance.
Though Zelleger would ultimately be beaten out for the Oscar by Nicole Kidman, there evidently weren’t any hard feelings as the two starred together in Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain. The performance netted Zellweger her third Oscar nomination in as many years, and on February 29, 2004, her losing streak ended as she took home the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Attempting to keep up the momentum, Zellweger returned to the character that earned her her first Academy Award nomination, starring in the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. After a limited release in December 2004, the film is slated to open wide in early 2005. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie GuideRelated Information: