The life of Renée Zellweger

After a years-long hiatus, the "Bridget Jones" star is back in the spotlight with an Oscar nomination. This is Renée Zellweger.

Meet the Academy Award winning actress

She captured the hearts of audiences worldwide as the seminal British everywoman. She was a star for Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax. Renée Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas. Her father had immigrated from Switzerland and her mother from Norway. From early childhood, she wanted to be a writer. She enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin, where she took a drama course which sparked her interest in acting.

Move to tinsel town

At 24, she moved to Los Angeles and worked as a waitress in a strip club while trying to catch her big break. After some minor roles, in 1996 she starred opposite Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. In 2001, she famously wasn't in the room when her first Golden Globe Award was announced — for her title role in the film Nurse Betty.

Bridget Jones' Diary

In 2001, she earned the sought-after lead role in ‘Bridget Jones' Diary’ — based on the best-selling 1996 novel Helen Fielding. She gained 20 pounds and started to smoke herbal cigarettes to step into character. She faced some backlash for taking the role of a beloved, romance-seeking British reporter. The role won her a second Golden Globe nomination, along with her first Academy Award and BAFTA nominations.

Oscar win

In 2002, she landed her second Oscar-nominated role, in the musical Chicago. For the part, she endured 10 months of intense vocal coaching and dance training. A year later, she won an Oscar for her performance in the period drama Cold Mountain. In May 2005, she married country singer Kenny Chesney. 4 months later, she filed to annul the marriage – citing “fraud” as the factor. The same year, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


In 2009, she met Bradley Cooper on the set of Case 39 – They soon became one of Hollywood's most-discussed couples. A year later, she began a 6-year hiatus from acting. In 2011, she traveled to Liberia, Thailand and Cambodia, as part of her work with the Great Initiative – a gender equality enterprise. In 2014, she briefly showed up in public at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards.

Her “changed” appearance

This sparked plastic surgery rumors and she said she entered a period of depression. In 2016, she mounted a comeback with the sequel Bridget Jones’s Baby. A year later, she was dragged into the #MeToo movement and prompted to speak out about a claim that Harvey Weinstein used her name to sexually pressure other actresses.

**She’s back **

In 2019, after years away from the spotlight she made headlines for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy – for the role as the screen icon, she earned multiple awards and an Oscar nomination — her fourth, and first in 16 years.