On Zellweger: Alexandra Golovanoff cardigan. Victoria Beckham skirt. Fendi pumps. On model: Brunello Cucinelli suit. Louis Vuitton Men’s shirt and shoes.
WWe all know the obvious things about Renée Zellweger: that she’s been one of the world’s most vibrant actresses for 26 years; that she is, famously, from Texas; that she loves a baseball cap and a fitted strapless evening gown in equal measure. But what you really need to know is that this lady has all the beauty tricks. I first met Zellweger in 2007, and to this day I still use a Bobbi Brown eyebrow pencil she recommended for blondes. A dozen years later we are sitting at dinner at the Sunset Tower Hotel in L.A., and she is spraying me liberally with Skin Up beauty mist, a hyaluronic-acid concoction that, for a glorious moment, makes you feel newly born. “Here it comes!” she says, hooting. “Ready?”
Zellweger is highly contained, courteous, and modest to a fault, but her hidden bag of tricks is an apt analogy for her talent. A typical exchange with her (in this case, about 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary) will go like this:
Me: “You had complete ownership of every part of that movie, and I think many of our memories of women having real command on the screen are from that.” Renée: “Oh!”
And that’s that.
Zellweger doesn’t waste time with prattle, channeling her distinct energies onto the screen. By now we’ve read the rave reviews of her performance as Judy Garland during her later years in the biopic Judy, but you must see it to believe it. Zellweger physicalizes Garland in such an extraordinary way, she almost vibrates.
Her works speaks for itself. That said, she’ll eat some fries and explain it.
LAURA BROWN: You are a performer in your bones, and we can feel it. In one of the scenes in Judy, you were walking down a hall visibly hunched over. How did you go about that? RENÉE ZELLWEGER: I describe it as a shared series of experiments with the different film departments. We were just trying things, and so walking down that hall was just an ongoing conversation about the varying degrees of severity. How she gets from the bathroom to the stage, and making decisions about what to show when, and making sure there is continuity. There were multiple collaborations happening within my body at once. [laughs]
LB: How much does a performance like the one in Judy take out of you?
RZ: I was tired and skinny when we finished this. The schedule is pretty punishing, but it’s finite. You know that after this series of months, you can catch up a little. But, yeah, this one was big. It was big because I was greedy. I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep digging.
LB: Is there another role or person you’re greedy for?
RZ: Yes, but it may take a little bit of audacity to get it moving. We’ll see.
LB: What’s the most audacious thing you’ve done?
RZ: I moved to L.A. when I was 24. [laughs] I drove here. It was 1993, after the riots, and I only knew about three people. I remember being really struck by the massive billboards everywhere.
LB: What did you do for your birthday in April? [Zellweger turned 50.]
RZ: I imported. I had my family here for the birthday, and we danced all night and ate too much. It was good.
LB: Do you ever think about how time has passed? It’s such a strange thing being a grown-up.
RZ: It doesn’t consume me because it’s inevitable. It’s a privilege. And, I don’t know, I’d rather celebrate each phase of my life and be present in it than mourn something that’s passed. I don’t want to miss this moment to be something that I used to be. That’s for someone else now. And good luck to them, because you have to survive a lot to move forward to your next state. I’m not saying I’m canceling my gym membership anytime soon, because I’m not. [laughs] I’d rather be a healthy, productive woman in each stage of my life than apologetic. I also don’t want to perpetuate the notion that somehow moving forward in your life is wrong. LB: Right.
RZ: I had this really fun conversation with Maria Shriver when we were both on the Today show [in September]. They were doing this segment on older women and were speaking with Rita Wilson about the value of older women. So, we were having this conversation about how you change the misconceptions about the experience of aging. How do we change how people value older women? And I thought, “Well, I guess it starts with us. With women determining and expressing what we value in ourselves.” That means what we champion with our choices and how we present ourselves.
LB: But wouldn’t it be great to get to the point where it’s just not even a conversation?
RZ: Well, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. [laughs]
LB: When it’s “This girl is 15, and this lady is 65,” and they’re both just…alive.
RZ: It’s not aging. It’s growing! It’s acquisition of the most valuable things: experience and knowledge and grace and insight. LB: There’s a cliché that actors are “emotional” and “crazy,” but I think they are very tough because they face judgment all the time. How have you steeled yourself over the years? RZ: Different hardships that are unexpected can sort of assist you moving forward. With this job, it’s peculiar because you’re not born with the faculties to know how to handle the things that come your way. I found that shifting your perspective is really important. I don’t
Cold Mountain Dior dress, bralette, and panties. Eric Javits hat. Golden Goose sneakers.
Bridget Jones’s Diary Fendi jacket and belt. Roger Vivier pumps. BEAUTY BEAT Give legs a sexy sheen with a body lotion that has a touch of shimmer, such as Aveeno Positively Radiant Body Lotion ($13; amazon.com).
Nurse Betty Mugler jacket. Batsheva blouse.
Dolce & Gabbana blazer and bodysuit. Schiaparelli Haute Couture dress. Manolo Blahnik pumps. BEAUTY BEAT When your outfit has glitz, keep your lip color low-key and natural. Try a rosy-nude shade like Shiseido Visionairy Gel Lipstick in Bullet Train ($26; shiseido.com). Chicago
Gucci blouson, T-shirt, and pants. Golden Goose sneakers. Hair: Chris Mcmillan for Solo Artists. Makeup: Kindra Mann for Tomlinson Management Group. Manicure: Christina Aviles Aude for Star Touch Agency. Set design: Gille Mills for The Magnet Agency. Dazed and Confused