RENEE ZELLWEGER Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Renee Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas, a small town outside Houston. The daughter of European parents (her father was Swiss and her mother Norwegian), Renee had an older brother that she greatly admired. After graduating from Katy High School in 1987, where Renee was a cheerleader, gymnast and participated in the drama club, she went off to the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in English. An excellent student (she made the Dean’s List several times), Renee took a drama class only because she needed a fine arts credit to complete her degree. Her participation in drama while in college turned out to be much more than a requirement, as it reminded her of how much she loved acting. Not even having planned on becoming an actress earlier, Renee knew by the time that she graduated from college that she wanted to pursue a career in acting. She immediately began auditioning for commercials and films that were being shot in Texas, and it didn’t her take long to get her first film role. Although the roles she landed were bit-parts, the films did well and co-starred respectable actors such as Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey.


Her uncredited role in 1993’s Dazed and Confused as a high school senior was her first film role, and was followed up by a role in The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (released in 1997). It was on the set of Chainsaw that Renee heard about another film that was in the midst of casting actors, which as luck would have it, Renee auditioned for and got the lead. The film was Love and a .45, a film for which Renee received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Debut Performance. In the meantime, Renee appeared in other films such as The Low Life, 8 Seconds, Reality Bites, and Empire Records, but it was her starring role in The Whole Wide World which not only won her praise at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, but also led to her breakthrough role in Cameron Crowe’s hit Jerry Maguire. Cameron Crowe was so impressed with her work in The Whole Wide World that he knew Renee would be the perfect choice to play the girlfriend of sports agent Tom Cruise, after being dumped by Kelly Preston. She even beat out already known actresses Bridget Fonda, Cameron Diaz and Mira Sorvino for the part. Her role in Jerry Maguire earned her many awards and a lot of recognition, including a Screen Actor’s Guild Nomination for Best Supporting Actress, as well as being named Entertainment Weekly’s Best New Movie Actress.


After Jerry Maguire, Renee starred in the smaller films Deceiver and A Price Above Rubies, in which she played a Hasidic Jew. In 1998, she moved onto a more mainstream film, One True Thing, a tearjerker also starring Oscar winners Meryl Streep and William Hurt. The following year, Renee joined Chris O’Donnell in The Bachelor. Next up for Renee is the summer comedy Me, Myself and Irene, featured in our Top Summer Movie Picks. Renee fell for co-star Jim Carrey while on the set of filming the Farrelly Brothers’ film, and the two are still going strong. Renee also landed the title role in the film Bridget Jones’ Diary, beating out popular British actresses to play the role of a single British woman in her 30s.