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. 142 Comments.

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


  2. 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:-)


  3. 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


  4. 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


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