It's been over 20 years since Renée Zellwegerhad us at "Hello," and so much has changed for the actress. Since her breakout role in Jerry Maguire she has solidified her spot on the A-list and her name has become more synonymous with rom- coms than Bridget Jones herself. But Zellweger has also had a somewhat complicated relationship with her own fame. The
2010s were a banner decade for the actress—she starred in Chicago , kicked off the Bridget Jones'
Diary franchise, won an Oscar for Cold Mountain and was nominated for two others. But by the end of the decade she gave it all up.
After starring in My Own Love Song opposite Forest Whitaker , Zellweger stepped away from the
spotlight and quit acting for six whole years. Zellweger didn't explain much about her decision at
the time (not that she owed anybody anything), and in fact her semi-retirement wasn't so much
announced as it was slowly realized as the years away from Hollywood dragged on. She spent a good
portion of her time traveling abroad, going to places like Thailand and Cambodia and volunteering in
Africa with women's groups, and was rarely spotted at industry events.
Years later the actress gave some insight to E! News' Marc Malkinabout what may have been
behind, at least in part, her decision to leave the spotlight: She explained that she suffered from what
she calls "imposter syndrome," describing her constant feelings that "This is the time you're going
to be figured out, this is the time you're going to get fired, for sure."
In a moment that serves to showcase both the best and worst of Hollywood, Zellweger reentered the
public conversation wholly unwillingly during her hiatus after stepping out for the 2014 Elle Women in Hollywood Awards looking markedly different. She was instantly subjected to hordes of criticism and
speculation over her new appearance, ranging from
nosy to downright misogynist. And while it was something that no woman should have to address
publicly, it gave Zellweger the chance to let her fans know that she was reveling in her hiatus.
"I'm glad folks think I look different," she told People shortly after the Internet rumors started to run rampant. "I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows.
My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy. For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with
that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of
myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices
about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things."
In her years off-camera she leaned into all of good things in life, including her relationship with
musician Doyle Bramhall. It seems that those years were restorative, because in 2016 she decided to
fight back even more for the treatment she received, penning a powerful op-ed about the
experience. "It's no secret that a woman's worth has been
historically measured by her appearance," she wrote. "Not that it's anyone's business, but I did not
make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes."
She also added: "I am not writing today because I have been publicly bullied or because the value of
my work has been questioned by a critic whose ideal physical representation of a fictional character
originated 16 years ago, over which he feels ownership, I no longer meet...I'm writing because to
be fair to myself, I must make some claims on the truths of my life and because witnessing the
transmutation of tabloid fodder from speculation to truth is deeply troubling." It's hard to say whether this marks a return to the
busy resumé she boasted during the height of her fame, but it's certain that she's making a push to
get back into the industry. Fans may never experience the Renee they got to know during the last decade, but in Hollywood you take what you