Renee Kathleen Zellweger, born April 25, 1969, is an American actress and producer. She has received critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Renee Zellweger.
1. She was named Hasty Pudding’s Woman of the Year in 2009, and established herself as one of the highest paid Hollywood actresses in 2007.
2. Her first major film role came in the horror sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which she followed with a critically acclaimed appearance in Empire Records.
3. Zellweger gained widespread attention for her roles in the drama sports movie Jerry Maguire and the comedy Nurse Betty, for which she won her first Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
4. She starred in the romantic comedy Bridget Jones’s Diary, obtaining nominations for the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actress.
5. Her role in the musical Chicago earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and won her a Golden Globe Award.
6. She won the Academy Award, the BAFTA Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for the epic war drama Cold Mountain.
7. She had several starring roles in limited release films, such as Appaloosa, My One and Only, Case 39, and My Own Love Song, which were followed by a six year hiatus from acting work.
8. Zellweger was born in Katy, Texas. Her father, Emil Erich Zellweger, is from the Swiss town of Au, St. Gallen and descends from a noble Appenzell family, and was a mechanical and electrical engineer who worked in the oil refining business. Her mother, Kjellfrid Irene, is Norwegian with some Sami roots.
9. Her mother, Kjellfrid, grew up in Kirkenes and Ekkeroy, and was a nurse and midwife who moved to the United States to work as a governess for a Norwegian family in Texas.
10. Zellweger has described herself as being raised in a family of, “lazy Catholics and Episcopalians.”
11. She attended Katy High School, where she was a cheerleader, gymnast, speech team member and drama club member.
12. In 1986, her academic paper, “The Karankawas and Their Roots,” won third place in the first ever Houston Post High School Natural Science Essay Contest.
13. After high school, she enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 1991.
14. While at university, Zellweger took a drama course as an elective, which initially sparked her interest in acting.
15. In her junior year, Zellweger’s father lost his job and was unable to support her at college, so she took a job as a cocktail waitress in Austin, Texas.
16. While in college, Zellweger began getting small parts acting, and earned her Screen Actors Guild card for doing a Coors Light commercial.
17. While in college, she did, “a bit part… as a local hire,” in the Austin filmed horror comedy movie My Boyfriend’s Back, playing, “the girl in the beauty shop, maybe two lines. But the beauty shop scene got cut.”
18. Her first job after graduation was working in a beef commercial, while simultaneously auditioning for roles around Houston, Texas.
19. She was in the bathroom when it was announced that she won the Golden Globe for her role in Nurse Betty.
20. With no dance or voice training, she learned how to perform for Chicago by watching co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. She endured a grueling training regime of vocal coaching and dance training for 10 months to rise to professional standards.
21. Prior to the filming of Chicago, Renee had only sung previously in public in the last scene of Empire Records and in the comical karaoke scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
22. She gained 20 pounds for her role in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
23. She became the first performer to win two individual, excluding best acting ensemble, SAG Awards in movie categories.
24. Zellweger married country singer Kenny Chesney on the resort island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
25. In 2004, she accepted the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role on behalf of Johnny Depp, who wasn’t present at the awards ceremony.
26. She wore a gown designed by her favorite designer, Carolina Adriana Herrera, for her wedding to Kenny Chesney.
27. She was originally chosen to portray Carla in Nine but Penelope Cruz, who went on to receive a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, was cast instead.
28. Zellweger was voted “Dream Date” of her class before she graduated from high school in 1987.
29. Zellweger took part in the 2005 HIV prevention campaign of the Swiss federal health department.
30. She is one of the patrons for gender equality foundation The GREAT Initiation. In 2011, she visited Liberia with the charity.