What the Hell Happened to Renee Zellweger?
Renee Zellweger has won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she was nominated twice for Best Actress and she has won three Golden Globes. For roughly a decade, she topped the A-list with both critical acclaim and commercial success. But she has been missing from the big screen for the last several years.
What the hell happened?
Zellweger started acting in TV movies like A Taste for Killing in 1992 and the mini-series Murder in the Heartland in 1993. She had uncredited roles in the zombie rom-com, My Boyfriend’s Back and the 70’s high school comedy, Dazed and Confused (pictured above) in 1993.
In 1994, Zellweger appeared in Reality Bites as one of Ethan Hawke’s girl friends. The picture above is pretty much the sum total of her part. She gives the slacker heart-throb a kiss on the porch and is never seen or heard from again. She was little more than an extra, but it was her first credited role in a Hollywood movie.
One week after the wide release of Reality Bites, Zellweger had a slightly larger role in Luke Perry’s bull-riding bio-pic, 8 Seconds. The film was Perry last grasp at transitioning from TV star to the big screen. Despite mostly negative reviews it was a small hit at the box office in relation to its modest budget.
Later that year, Zellweger starred in the Showtime movie, Shake Rattle and Roll. SR&R was part of a series of remakes of 1950’s B-movies that Showtime produced under the title Rebel Highway. The idea was to give drive-in movies a “90’s edge”. Series creator, Samuel Z. Arkoff wondered “what it would be like if you made Rebel Without a Cause today. It would be more lurid, sexier, and much more dangerous, and you definitely would have had Natalie Wood’s top off”.
The clip above includes footage from several of Zellweger’s movies from 1994 set to a song from Shake Rattle and Roll.
Just about every successful actress in Hollywood has a horror film in their early days they wish they could make go away. For Zellweger, that film is The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The low-budget sequel starred Texas natives Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey who were both unknowns at the time. Zellweger played the girl in peril and McConaughey went way, way, way over-the-top as the next generation cannibal who terrorizes her.
In spite of the presence of two future stars, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was terrible even by the standards of a low-budget horror sequel. It got dumped in a few theaters in 1994 and was screen at the South by South-west Film and Media Conference in 1995.
In 1997, when Zellweger and McConaughey were both rising stars, it was re-edited and released under the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. McConaughey actively campaigned to prevent the film from getting a wide release. And with good reason. His performance is laughable.
Reviews were almost unanimously negative. McConaughey successfully blocked the film from getting a wide release. It opened in just 20 cities in 1997 before being dumped to video.
Zellweger’s final film of the year was the independent crime drama, Love and a .45.
She and Gil Bellows played a young couple on a Bonnie and Clyde-style crime spree.
Zellweger was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance.
In 1995, Zellweger appeared opposite Liv Tyler, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney and Ethan Embry in Empire Records.
Empire Records follows a day in the life of the employees at an independent record store. It’s sort of like Clerks with a bigger budget and fewer Star Wars references. Zellweger played Tyler’s best friend who seduces a fading pop star played by Maxwell Caulfield (of Grease 2 infamy).
When it was released, Empire Records got mostly negative reviews and bombed at the box office. But it has developed a cult following on video.
Posted on February 23, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged bridget jones, chicago, cold mountain, empire records, entertainment, jerry maguire, movies, renee zellweger. Bookmark the permalink. 125 Comments.