Renee Zellweger Spills Her Secrets!
Want to know the modern definition of glamour? Look no further than Renée Zellweger. She’s got all the trappings of a high-gloss life—the designer clothes, the red-carpet poses. But the woman’s about so much more. She’s a voracious reader, a gutsy actress and a doer when it comes to the causes she cares about: A USO supporter, she has visited wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center over the past year. The point? She’s about outer glamour—and the inner kind, too. Now, for the first time in a decade, the Texas-born actress, 40, is exploring a new side of her multifaceted life: She’s taking a break from moviemaking. At home in New York, she is gobbling up books, sifting through scripts and indulging in one of her favorite pastimes: napping. “I’m working on getting bored,” she says. “And it’s really hard! But I need to sit still long enough to see where my brain goes.” Given all that has happened to her in the past five years—eight films, two Oscar nominations (and one win), a breakup with White Stripes front man Jack White, an ill-fated four-month marriage to country singer Kenny Chesney, wild media speculation about a current romance with NBC News chief legal correspondent Dan Abrams—it’s no wonder boredom looks so attractive to Zellweger. Over sushi at a New York City restaurant, she shares her thoughts on her present and her personal definition of glamorous.
GLAMOUR: The last time I interviewed you, back in 2004, you were wearing a Beatles T-shirt and your hair was brown. Your versatility seems to be one of the most glamorous things about you. So tell us—because this is the theme of our issue—who are the women you find glamorous right now?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I am always amazed by Diane Sawyer; she is so elegant and manages to pull it together at 3:00 A.M. every day. Hillary Clinton is great: Even in countries where women are not considered contemporaries, she walks into a room of dignitaries and speaks with such authority. She’s also really warm and funny! And, of course, there’s Michelle Obama—nothing about her is disingenuous. I’m thrilled she’s out there as the face of American women.
GLAMOUR: Not to mention what she’s done for American women’s biceps!
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: [Laughs.] That too!
GLAMOUR: While we’re on the subject of politics, the economy is in shambles. Has the financial climate affected you in any way? Are you more inclined to look for a bargain?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I have a job that requires me to get dressed [up] more often than if I were in another line of work, but I don’t have a lot of indulgences. I like nice wine, and I like sushi, and those things aren’t cheap. Well, they can be, but I don’t think I’d go for the cheap fish! [Laughs.]
GLAMOUR: You didn’t grow up with a whole lot, did you?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: No. I have immigrant parents who came to this country with nothing, and my dad worked his ass off to support our family. He made so many sacrifices, but we always had enough. I’ve never been the sort of person who takes things for granted, and I’m not an acquisitions girl. So I didn’t feel entitled to a car when I was 16. Of course, I was bummed I didn’t get one, because I was an American Texas teenager! But I understood it. I’ve never gotten my self-esteem from having the newest, most spectacular thing.
GLAMOUR: So where does your self-esteem come from? In the photos for this story, you look so confident and sexy…. Were you doing your job, or are you feeling particularly sexy these days?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I let my guard down—I must have been tired! [Laughs.] Actually, I’m having a really good time right now.
GLAMOUR: So, is there a shift happening?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Yes. I’m taking time to figure out where I want to go and what I want to do next. In this line of work, you become so [defined by your job].
GLAMOUR: Does that bother you?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Actually, I’m delighted when someone confesses to being surprised [to discover] something about me. It means I’ve been very successful in maintaining what is most precious to me—keeping the things that really matter in my life unexposed.
__GLAMOUR:__So…you won’t talk about who you’re dating?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: No. I won’t. Because it’s dumb. It leads to nowhere good. I let everybody else in the media do that for me. [Laughs.] It takes the responsibility off my shoulders!
GLAMOUR: Why do you think the media assumes that if a woman is young, gorgeous, successful—but single—she isn’t happy? You seem like a very happy, together person.
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I don’t know. Because it’s a deviation from social expectations? She’s successful in all these respects, so why doesn’t a man find her attractive? But when you think about it, [when you’re single] you are not deprived in any way—if anything, it’s a pretty self-indulgent lifestyle. It’s selfish: You can make your own decisions and indulge yourself on an impulse.
GLAMOUR: And the media doesn’t have the same attitude about single men.
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: It’s “Good for you, buddy—you’re a confirmed bachelor!”
GLAMOUR: If the right guy came along, would you be willing to give up the single life?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Oh, sure. But if I’m going to give it up, it better be good—because I’m having fun! [Laughs.]
GLAMOUR: What would you say you are looking for in a partner?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I’m looking for an encyclopedia and a dictionary. A bit of the Boy Scouts Handbook. A person who is conscientious about the trail he leaves behind him. Love. Unconditional kindness. Basically, I’m looking for the qualities I revere in my friends.
GLAMOUR: Do you have a “type”?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Nope. I’m attracted to intelligence and creativity and passion—and not necessarily the romantic kind. I want to learn from someone who is greedy for information and light and laughter and the whole world. Someone who celebrates their days and finds inspiration in what other people accomplish.
GLAMOUR: Now lots of young actresses coming up in the business talk very openly about their relationships. How did you learn to keep certain things close to your chest?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I think it’s the culture they’ve grown up in with respect to what’s considered acceptable. Would you ever have imagined it would be OK to walk up to Bruce Springsteen and put a camera in his face while he’s having lunch with his family, without even saying, “Excuse me”?
GLAMOUR: So you’re not Twittering?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I can’t think of anything more horrible than sharing what I’m doing all day!
GLAMOUR: Getting back to the shift we were talking about—does this mean you’re going to stay put for a while?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Yes. I’m working on different projects, but I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I’m not putting on other people’s clothes or living out of my luggage. I’m actually going into the bathroom to use my bathroom stuff—rather than to the suitcase where I usually keep it. I’m learning how to use a chest of drawers! I am determined to sit still long enough to get past the existential crap of the moment.
GLAMOUR: What’s the most important thing you hope to get out of this?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I want to learn more. I want to know more. That’s what taking this time is about. I’m curious about so many things, but haven’t had occasion to be exposed to them enough to really appreciate them.
GLAMOUR: You’re also a big runner. What role does exercise play in your life?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: It’s my outlet, the one thing I do during the day that’s mine and mine alone. I don’t want to work with a trainer, and I don’t want to go with friends to the gym. It’s my solitude, and I need it.
GLAMOUR: You seem pretty confident in everything you do, so my last question for you is, would you ever want to go back and redo any part of your life?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER: Not at all. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve accumulated. Of course, there are certain things you wish were not on anyone’s list of life experiences, but it’s a life. It’s a good life. And I like what’s there.