Renee Zellweger makes triumphant return to Hollywood after six-year hiatus in Netflix’s 'What/If'
Actress Renee Zellweger opens up about starring in the new Netflix original series 'What/If' and transforming into the iconic Judy Garland for the forthcoming biopic, 'Judy.'
LOS ANGELES – Renee Zellweger is making 2019 her year.
After taking a six-year hiatus from acting between 2010 and 2016, the “King of the Hill” voice actress is not only making a huge splash in the first installment of Netflix’s upcoming original series “What/If,” as an enigmatic angel investor who makes an indecent proposal to a newly-wed couple, but Zellweger also debuted an incredible transformation into the polarizing Hollywood icon Judy Garland for the biopic “Judy.”
Zellweger spoke to Fox News about her role in the “neo-noir social thriller” as well as the shocking transformation she made for “Judy” and discussed the approach she took coming back to film and television, picking up right where she left off in her first leading role since 2016’s “Bridget Jones’s Baby.”
“I want to play. I wanted to play. I love that this woman is so audacious and free and that she taps into her entitlement and her power and her sexuality to manipulate everybody and everything around her to get what she wants,” said Zellweger, 50, about her performance as Anne Montgomery in “What/If.” “That's not something I do every day. So it was fun.”
When asked how she managed to completely channel the late Garland in the Rupert Gold-directed adaptation of the Oliver-and-Tony Award-nominated stage show “End of the Rainbow,” the Academy Award-winning actress paused to think about Garland’s life and talent before explaining her goal in presenting what hasn’t been shown about the iconic performer.
“I approached it really humbly with curiosity and lifelong admiration – awe, really,” said Zellweger. “And I just wanted to learn as much as I could and read between the lines because I think that a lot of what we sort of address in the film has gone unaddressed or not.”
The “Jerry McGuire” actress continued: “It's just what isn't in the article that was written about her. What'd they leave out? What are the extenuating circumstances that nobody wants to talk about? What's happening in the private moments? And so I just – I sat with all of the facts and all of the sort of linear history of this period in her life, and I tried to understand from my own personal experiences and everything else that I read and what was missing in the telling of this part of the story of this part of her life.”
Renee Zellweger stars as late Hollywood icon in the biopic "Judy." (JUDY | Official Teaser Trailer | Roadside Attractions)
“But again, just I wanted to be careful because I, like generations of people, I have loved her a lifetime. And so it's just a special experience it was thought to be able to live in that exploration for a couple of years.”
“She was a great mother — incredibly loving, touchy-feeling and with a wicked sense of humor,” said the 66-year-old, per Closer Weekly.
Jane Levy, left, Renée Zellweger and Blake Jenner attend Netflix's 'WHAT / IF' Special Screening at The London West Hollywood on May 16, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)
“She understood about human frailties in other people and was very understanding,” continued Luft. “She hated discrimination and loved everyone. Both of my parents taught me kindness, understanding and not taking things for granted.”
The actress admitted that losing her mother so suddenly was incredibly difficult at such a young age.
“When she died, in the bathroom of her Chelsea mews house on June 22, 1969, the show and sense of loss were almost unbearable,” explained Luft. “Losing a parent at any age is devastating, but when you lose a parent who’s really, really famous, you have to share your grief with the rest of the world and that’s so strange. I just knew her as my mother, in the kitchen in a bathrobe, but to the world, she was an icon, a legend.”
“Judy” premieres Sept. 27.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.