Saturday, December 20, 2008
Renee Kathleen Zellweger is an Academy Award-, BAFTA-, SAG Award-, and Golden Globe-winning American actress and producer, who has established herself as one of the highest-paid Hollywood actresses in recent years.
Zellweger was born in Baytown, Texas, an eastern suburb of Houston. Between junior high school and high school her family moved to Katy, Texas, a western suburb of Houston. Her father, Emil Erich Zellweger, is a Swiss-born mechanical and electrical engineer who worked in the oil refining business.Zellweger's mother, Kjellfried Irene , is Norwegian-born and of Sami origin,and is a nurse and midwife who moved to the United States in order to work as a governess for a Norwegian family in Texas.Zellweger described herself as being raised in a family of "lazy Catholics and Episcopalians".She has an older brother, Andrew.
In junior high school, Zellweger actively took part in several sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball and football.She attended Katy High School, where she was a cheerleader, a gymnast, and a drama club member. Zellweger acted in several school plays and was voted the "Best Looking" of her class before graduating from high school in 1987. After high school, she went to the University of Texas at Austin to major in English language.Zellweger was a good student, and made the Dean's List several times. At the beginning she took a drama class only because she needed a fine arts credit to complete her degree, but the experience made her appreciate how much she loved acting.During this time, she supported herself by taking jobs as a waitress in Austin, Texas and worked maintenance at The Velvet Touch in Flint, Michigan.In 1991, Zellweger graduated from university with a BA degree in English. She considered moving to Hollywood but decided to stay in her home state, Texas, to seek more experience. Her first job after graduation was working in a beef commercial, at the same time she started to audition for roles around Houston.
While still in Texas, Zellweger appeared in several films. She appeared in A Taste for Killing (1992) as Mary Lou, then had a minor role in ABC TV mini series named Murder in the Heartland (1993). The following year, she appeared in Reality Bites (1994), the directorial debut of Ben Stiller, and in the biopic film 8 Seconds, directed by John G. Avildsen. Zellweger's first main part in a movie came with the 1994 horror movie Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in which she acted alongside Matthew McConaughey. She played Jenny, a teenager who leaves a prom early with three friends and ended up getting into a car accident, which leads to their meeting a murderous family.Her next movie was Love and a .45 (1994), in which she played the role of Starlene Cheatham, a woman who plans a robbery with her boyfriend. The performance earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, winning roles in the films Empire Records (1995) and The Whole Wide World (1996).Zellweger first became widely known to audiences around the world with her role in Jerry Maguire (1996), where she played the romantic interest of Tom Cruise's character.She won the role over Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei. Since then, Zellweger has won acclaim in roles such as One True Thing (1998) opposite William Hurt and Meryl Streep, and in Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty opposite Morgan Freeman. The role garnered the actress her first of three Golden Globe Awards, but she was in the bathroom when future co-star Hugh Grant announced her name.Zellweger later protested: "I had lipstick on my teeth!