Renée Zellweger stars as Judy Garland in the biopic Judy, in theaters now. The film covers Garland’s later years, dramatizing her final performances in London, leading up to her death.
As depicted in the above trailer, Garland suffered a number of setbacks during her career. Zellweger has talked about how she can relate to Garland’s troubles, having experienced the pressure that comes with being a performer. She herself took a break from moviemaking, six years actually, to focus on self-care and wellness.
Some people may have forgotten about her, but not us. Let’s look back at some of her earlier roles:
1. Empire Records
In 1995, Zellweger starred as aspiring singer Gina in Empire Records. The movie revolves around a bunch of teenagers working at a record store. When the store owner goes broke, the staffers come up with a plan to raise money. Zellweger definitely had some scene-stealing moments, like when she stole her best friend’s (Liv Tyler) dreamboat crush.
2. Jerry Maguire
She was cast opposite Tom Cruise in the 1996 sports dramedy Jerry Maguire. Cruise plays an agent who has just been fired. He doesn’t leave quietly, yelling in the office, “Who’s coming with me!!??” Oh, that’d be Zellweger’s Dorothy Boyd. Boyd is a single mom and the last thing she should doing is abandoning her job and its health benefits. But, in this case, love supersedes sensibility. She goes with Maguire because she believes in him.
3. Bridget Jones’s Diary
And, of course, she starred in one of our faves, 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, an adaptation of Helen Fielding‘s novel. In the first installment of three films, Bridget (Zellweger) is a thirty something singleton, unlucky in love, juggling two men, played by Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. As neurotic as she is, she’s also tenacious, never giving up. She reprised the role in the 2004 and 2016 follow-ups.
4. White Oleander
Zellweger takes on a more dramatic role in 2002’s White Oleander. The story revolves around a teenage girl (Alison Lohman) who finds herself bouncing from foster home to foster home when her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) is incarcerated for murder. It seems she’s found a safe place with married couple Claire (Zellweger) and Mark Richards (Noah Wyle). Unfortunately, her mother’s jealousy upends this makeshift family.
In 2002, Zellweger starred opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones in the musical Chicago. Both women are on death-row for murder, meanwhile they each claim, “I didn’t do it.” They share the same lawyer (Richard Gere), who is working to have them freed. But, he only has so much time. The two are constantly battling, especially for their lawyer’s attention.
6. Down with Love
In 2003, Zellweger teamed up with Ewan McGregor for the romantic comedy Down with Love. She plays a self-help author who promotes female empowerment, stating women don’t need men. McGregor’s playboy publisher character Catcher Block makes it his mission to prove her wrong and get her to fall in love with him. But, he does it in a deceitful way, camouflaging himself as a hapless fool vs. the womanizer he actually is.
In 2008’s Leatherheads, Zellweger finds herself in a bit of a love triangle. The sports dramedy revolves around a professional football player (George Clooney), who is trying to recruit a star college player (John Krasinski) to save his team. While a sports film, there’s a bit of romance thrown in, with both men smitten with Zellweger’s character Lexie Littleton. Meanwhile, Littleton is a reporter and she’s more focused on getting a story.
8. My Own Love Song
2010’s My Own Love Song was Zellweger’s last on-screen performance before her self-imposed six-year hiatus. She plays a single mom named Jane, whose son has been taken away from her by the state. She lost her husband in a car crash, and now her son, so she’s about ready to give up. When her friend Joey (Forest Whitaker) points out that she’s barely living, the two set out on a road trip.
9. The Whole Truth
In 2016, Zellweger made her return to Hollywood, signing up to star opposite Keanu Reeves (not a bad way to make a comeback!) in The Whole Truth. The movie revolves around a teenage boy who allegedly killed his father. Reeves plays his attorney with Zellweger portraying the young man’s mother. The father is profiled as an abuser during the trial, with the defense arguing fear of immediate harm. But, is that the whole truth in this whodunit?
And, just this year, Zellweger popped up in the Netflix series What/If. She portrays a venture capitalist by the name of Anne Montgomery. A young scientist (Jane Levy) approaches Montgomery for funding. Montgomery is interested in investing, but even more interested in the scientist’s husband. She’s agreed to make the financial contribution, but there’s a catch. She’d like to spend the evening with the husband first.
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