What the Hell Happened to Renee Zellweger?

Renee Zellweger

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?

Rene Zellweger - Dazed and Confused - 1993

Renee Zellweger – Dazed and Confused – 1993

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.

zellwegger - reality bites

Renee Zellweger – Reality Bites – 1994

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.

zellwegger - 8 seconds

Renee Zellweger – 8 Seconds – 1994

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.

zellweger - texas chainsaw massacre

Renee Zellweger – The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1994

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.

Next: Empire Records and Jerry Maguire

Posted on February 23, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 150 Comments.

  1. rennes movie with Keanu could be a hit with renes age she could be do mother roles instead of rom coms but aside iron man movies she making flops u mentioned u might make diane lane a caudate on wthh happened yet she is starring in the the 2nd superman movie so she cant be doing to a bad it is a form flattery but at same it mentions how damage there career is at the moment


  2. on the other hand laws like paltrow is appearing in the box office hits Sherlock holms and like paltrow they were supporting roles but I guess like u said before women are held different standards since its rare they actually lead a box office hit


  3. Well, even if she looks like Kelly Lynch 2.0, if the film interests me, we’ll see. Besides, I liked it when she was a star:-)


  4. Zellweger makes the list of WatchMojo’s Top 10 Actors Who Walked Away from Fame


  5. Patrick Dempsey Joining ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ For Working Title:

    EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Dempsey is in final negotiations to join the cast of Bridget Jones’s Baby for British production powerhouse Working Title co-chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. The much-anticipated third installment sees Renee Zellweger reprising her role as the mishap-prone British publishing executive as she enters her 40s. Colin Firth also returns as love interest Mark Darcy.

    Plot details are being kept under wraps, including which role Dempsey will be playing, although, as the title suggests, Bridget Jones does find herself unexpectedly expecting. Less clear at this stage is if and when the father’s identity will be revealed, leaving open the possibility that Dempsey — TV’s own (former) Doctor McDreamy — could play a love rival in a similar vein to Hugh Grant’s dashing Daniel Cleaver. Grant is not returning for this, although director Sharon Maguire, who helmed the first Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001, will be at the helm again.

    The story is believed to be based on columns written by Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding and not her latest novel, Mad About The Boy (in which the titular character has a couple of kids and Firth’s character has died).


  6. Category: This Sucks So Bad … Created on Saturday, 05 January 2013 17:04 Written by George Rother


    The only thing that saves Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation from a “NO STARS!!!” rating is a delightfully demented performance from Matthew McConaughey. They can keep the rest of this awful movie! Originally titled The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it was completed in ’94 but didn’t see the inside of movie theaters until late summer ’97. By this time, both McConaughey and Renee Zellweger had become big stars and the producers saw an opportunity to separate moviegoers from their hard-earned money. They needn’t have bothered since very few people took the bait. I have a memory for this sort of thing (as everybody knows by now) and I know that TCM4 (as I like to call it) didn’t open in any theaters in the Philadelphia area. I would have been one of the poor dumb bastards who paid to see it. I admit it, I’m a sucker when it comes to horror movie sequels. As long as the studios keep churning them out, I’ll go to see them. I saw it when it hit home video; I stayed up late one night to watch it. It totally wasn’t worth being tired at work the next day. This movie sucks hard! Not only does it lack any memorably gory scenes, it also throws in a subplot that’s so ludicrous that it has to be seen to be believed. This is NOT an endorsement of TCM4! I do NOT recommend seeing it under any circumstances! By nature, this type of flick is usually stupid and pointless, but with the aforementioned subplot, it attains a level of stupidity that very few movies have achieved.

    This is in addition to the super-annoying, one-dimensional characters and horrible dialogue. I know that I shouldn’t apply the traditional principles of film criticism to a movie like this, but I feel obligated to point them out in this instance. It’s that kind of movie.

    As if it even matters, here now is the “plot” of TCM4. I use the term very loosely since I didn’t notice any perceivable storyline. I’m still on the fence as to whether I should reveal the ridiculous subplot; I suppose that I should as a service to mankind. More about that in a moment. The movie opens with four insipid teenagers at their senior prom. They’re so annoying that I wanted them dead seven minutes into the movie. Nerdy Jenny (Zellweger, Jerry Maguire) attends the prom with her boyfriend Sean (Harrison) and bickering couple Barry (Cone) and Heather (Newmyer). She’s pissed off that she caught him making out with his ex-girlfriend and drives off in his car with Jenny and Sean in the backseat. He manages to jump in and they head out towards some unknown destination. They end up getting into an accident approximately two minutes after Heather expresses a desire to get into a car wreck. This leads to a particularly stupid line where Barry says, upon inspecting the damage to his vehicle, “I’m dead. Somebody kill me please!” Can we say “redundancy”? The driver of the other car falls down unconscious and Sean stays behind with him while the others go looking for help. At this point, Jenny removes her heels and foot fetishists will appreciate that she spends the rest of the movie barefoot. They come across an insurance office where the lone agent Darla (Perensky) calls for a tow truck. Let me remind you of the rule that states that everybody horror movie characters encounter in a remote area are inevitably related to each other. The tow truck is driven by her husband Vilmer (McConaughey, A Time to Kill) and he’s a real loony tune! He kills the other driver and goes after Sean, prompting the boy to plead, “Please mister, you’re scaring me.” Yeah, that always works. Meanwhile, Barry and Heather get separated from Jenny and come across a house occupied by …… you guessed it! They encounter our old friend Leatherface (Jacks) and the nightmare really begins. There are no surprises here; you know exactly what’s going to happen next. Virginal Jenny will eventually be their “guest of honor” at dinner. Now, here comes that subplot. It turns out that Vilmer works for a super-secret government agency and the murders are all part of a bigger plan. The whole situation is intended to be a “spiritual experience”. Huh? We get only a vague explanation of this, but we don’t need to know very much to figure out that it’s completely moronic. Then there’s the deus ex machina in the final scene, but who wants to get into that?

    TCM4 is really, really bad on every single level. It’s so bad that it doesn’t even qualify as camp. I can’t believe that the studio even released it. Did anybody even inspect the final product before it hit theaters? Whatever happened to quality control? This movie would have likely faded into obscurity if not for the presence of the two major actors. I’m sure that they both leave this movie off their resumes on purpose for much the same reason that Angelina Jolie omits any mention of her role in Cyborg 2. It’s a complete embarrassment for all involved. I can’t believe that Kim Henkel, one of the original’s co-writers, is responsible for this. The only saving grace (still no reason to watch it!) is McConaughey. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but he brings something cool to even the worst roles. He gets to go full-on freak show in this movie. I wish that were enough to save TCM4, but it’s not. It doesn’t even come close to making this travesty watchable. The other performances don’t even matter; they are terrible across the board. I didn’t even like the guy playing Leatherface in this movie. That brings up another problem with the movie. For something with the word “chainsaw” in the tile, there’s a curious lack of chainsaw-inflicted violence. It’s not even that gory. It’s violent and nasty, but there’s nothing to satisfy even the most undemanding gorehounds. The term “waste of time” comes to mind. So does “waste of film”. It’s the cinematic equivalent of solid waste. It’s possible that TCM4 would have worked if the filmmakers had added more gory violence. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Grandpa (Schirmacher) makes his fourth appearance in as many movies and I have to wonder just how old is this geezer? In the first movie, he’s supposedly 137 years old and he must have earned himself a place in the Guiness Book of World Records by now. You would think that the writer would have addressed this at some point. I’m just saying. Either way, nothing really makes any sense in TCM4 and we can only hold out hope that Henkel will clear things up in a better sequel. I’m not holding my breath though.


  7. she has a film with keanu coming up a drama called same kind of different as me lastly bridghet jones flick. These films could a hit . I see bridget jones being safest bet


  8. Blockbuster Buster: Shark Tale (2004)

    ERod faces what many claim is the worst DreamWorks animated movie.


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