Harper's Bazaar (USA)


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company. The Thing About Pam isn’t a limited series so much as a Trojan horse—a potential franchise disguised as an A-list one-off. “The hope is we can find the next The Thing About Pam,” Casinelli says, “and do a follow-up season. Or seasons.”

Of the miniseries, Zellweger says, “It’s an event. It’s retro. Isn’t it cool?”

Zellweger sold her house in Topanga in October of 2021; after staring at the walls for almost two years, she says, she needed a change. She was also still processing the loss of Nanci Ryder, a titan in the industry, known for her A-list clients and her flirtatiou­s spirit. Ryder had been diagnosed with ALS in 2014 and succumbed to the disease in June 2020, with Zellweger by her side when she passed.

But if you believe in serendipit­y, as Zellweger does, Ryder’s work was not done.

“It was around Judy,” Zellweger explains, “late night, and I remember I watched the Property Brothers with Brad Pitt.” She’s talking about an HGTV show called Celebrity IOU, in which a famous person honors someone in his or her life—a family member, a beloved employee—by having the Property Brothers renovate their home. Gwyneth Paltrow and Melissa McCarthy have both appeared on the show, but Brad Pitt’s episode is a real tearjerker.

Zellweger wanted to celebrate the two nurses who’d cared for Ryder in the last years of her life—twin brothers named Jerome Cowan and Jerald Cowan—and as luck would have it, a spin-off was in developmen­t. Celebrity IOU: Joyride would feature Ant Anstead—he of the salt-and-pepper hair, dimples for days, and black T-shirts tucked into cargo pants—rebuilding some truly beautiful classic cars. Zellweger leapt at the chance to participat­e. In the end, Jerome got a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass and Jerald got a killer vintage Bronco. And Zellweger took home the host.

It was an obvious match in some respects: Zellweger’s father was an engineer, and she is maybe the only Oscar winner who can confidentl­y fix a gearbox (whatever that is). But in other ways, it was surprising. Anstead, 43, posts to Instagram almost daily and recently had to clarify to his 436,000 followers that his two-year-old son did not cut his own hair with a butter knife. Zellweger, on the other hand, eschews social media entirely, saying, “I don’t look at my phone sometimes until six o’clock at night.”

And yet there’s that smile when his name comes up. Zellweger is reportedly renting a place in Laguna Beach, where Anstead lives. When I tell her that I’m about to visit a friend in New Orleans, she suggests a Middle Eastern restaurant called Saba that they enjoyed when she was there on location filming Pam, praising the spot’s homemade bread: “You can have 20 loaves of that stuff and it’d be fine!”

Just before the interview ends—before she puts my dog’s harness back on, giving him a sweet rub-down goodbye—I ask if she thinks Anstead has somehow been a gift from Ryder. Has the powerhouse publicist somehow brought these two together? “Yeah, we do joke about that,” Zellweger says. “She’s always doing her best. It made me smile. It made me smile to think on this, yeah, the serendipit­y of it all.”

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