| Renee Zellweger
New York, May 14: If Renee Zellweger was clinging to any last vestige of privacy, the past few months obliterated it. She revealed song-and-dance chops in Chicago, earning an Academy Award nomination for best actress.
That came on top of critical huzzahs for 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, in which she delivered a credible British accent. Now she cloaks herself in Jackie . glamour and Doris Day spunk in the retro comedy Down With Love.
Zellweger planned to celebrate her ascent by uprooting from Los Angeles to New York, but that was before a national magazine printed a picture and address of her new digs.
“I can’t imagine how it serves the periodical as much as it takes from my life,” Zellweger, 34, says in an otherwise chirpy interview recently. “So I have to wait. It’s a sad reality.”
Invasion of her real-estate ventures notwithstanding, life is good for Zellweger. She has vaulted to the A-plus of the A list, showing a variety of talents that now command more than $10 million for a leading role. She has monopolised audience trust and goodwill to the point that could easily rankle other actors.
“She’s like everyone else, except she happens to be a movie star,” Down With Love co-star Sarah Paulson says. “She has the biggest heart. It just radiates out of her. I imagine that some could misconstrue that as not being genuine.”
OK, even Hollywood’s apple-cheeked sweetie pie has suffered a few setbacks of late. She did lose the Oscar to The Hours star Nicole Kidman.
She called the wartime awards gala one of the strangest moments of her life. “To experience a personal highlight at a time when there’s so much despair was hard to process,” she said.
And Zellweger is still without a boyfriend since her breakup with Jim Carrey a few years ago. She and George Clooney repeatedly denied they were an item, and her late-night companion on Oscar night, Michael Edwards-Hammond, was apparently just a shoulder to lean on.
“I’m not searching,” she says. “I’m not looking to fill a position.” Zellweger has the short hairdo that is now gracing fashion-magazine covers. She looks fit in a black V-neck sweater, no longer sporting the post-Bridget Jones skeletal frame that caused a stir. In a 30-minute conversation at a Park Avenue hotel, the Jerry Maguire star rarely descends below gee-whiz in discussing her life. Her mousy voice sinks to a whisper during rare serious moments and squeaks on the upbeat.
“I have impostor’s syndrome,” she says. “It still freaks me out when I’m at the store and somebody goes: ‘You are Renee Zellweger.’ That’s the weirdest thing to me, and I’ll never get used to it.”
Zellweger has adjusted to calling her own shots. Professing a long-held desire to work with Ewan McGregor, she jumped at the chance to fill the Doris Day role to his Rock Hudson turn in Down With Love, a homage to the sex comedies of the early Sixties.
Using her time off to reconnect with friends, Zellweger has possibilities ahead of her as big as her native Texas. It seems her biggest obstacle will be finding a new address without the world knowing exactly where it is. “This feels like a period of growth and change,” she says.
“A change of environment would be good for that.”