Renée Zellweger DWL Interview
The Single Gal on Womanizers, Cads and Sexual Innuendo in a Post-Doris Day World
What makes Renée Zellweger run? Certainly not her success, which is currently defined by an award-winning performance in Chicago. This Texas girl with the crinkly grin and self-deprecating style is a risk taker who's looking not at the summit she has just conquered but at the next peak.
So, now, in a very hip spin on '60s screen romances, Zellweger plays the author of a bestseller about how to swear off love, and Ewan McGregor costars as the journalist playboy who sets out to prove that all she needs is a man. Off-screen, Zellweger is still very much single, despite the prying eyes that try to discover who keeps her company--besides her beloved pet, Dylan, a collie and golden retriever mix.
Though she took a serious turn with Nicole Kidman in the wrenching drama Cold Mountain, it's apparent when discussing Bridget Jones's Diary, Love and McGregor that Zellweger's clearly down with fun.
Down with Love's Catcher Block represents that womanizer we love to hate,
the guy who's out for himself and not above using the opposite sex. Have you
known any Catcher Blocks?
I was friends with all the Catcher Block-type boys growing up, when they were in junior high--the Catchers to be. I was on the soccer team with them. I was on the baseball team with them. I was on the playground tackle-football teams with them. We raced around the block. We built clubhouses together. We "found" good lumber at construction sites to use on our tree houses. But that's as far as it went. I knew what they were talking about in the locker room, and I didn't want to have my name tossed around.
you approach a man? Can you be manipulative, sexy?
Oh no, I can't do that. I'm very old-fashioned and shy. It takes me a while to get to know people, and I can't play the field. I'm a serial monogamist.
as we know, you're not sharing that monogamy with anyone--but you're not a
down-with-love girl, are you?
No, I'm not a down-with-love girl. But I am a hopeless sucker. I am such a romantic. No matter where the road leads, I always believe I can't help it. We'll see what happens. I'm not searching, and I've had no time. But things are starting to slow down just a little bit, so I'm reconnecting with my friends. I've had time to go and do things that mattered to me a lot.
film, your character gets left waiting a lot when Catcher cancels dates and
appointments. Have you ever been stood up?
It was when I was nine years old at Camp Allen. I was very happy playing soccer and being a tomboy girl. Then this boy Greg, who was quite a man at 10, asked me to go to the dance at the end of camp. I was really thrown for a loop, because I had never considered that kind of thing except maybe for the crushes I had on Scott Singletary in kindergarten and Gary Higginbotham in first grade. Anyway, Greg canceled out on me to take this older girl. I think she must have fully reached her womanhood at 12--she had big, big fantastic hair and big other things. So, I got dumped for the first time. And I showed up to that dance by myself.
and Ewan really connected in the film. Where did that chemistry come from?
I like Ewan. We've been friends for a long time, and I've been his fan for even longer. We were like kids playing a really intense game of T-ball on the team together. You know, just concentrating to get the hits, to get the run. And then when it happens, jumping for joy--literally. We were like dumb little kids clapping our hands every day. It was ridiculous. We laughed so much. He comes up with funny things you just don't expect, and you've got to tighten your appearance the best you can not to crack up and ruin the scene. There were scenes where we were holding hands and I think I squeezed the blood out of his fingers trying not to laugh.
about kissing him?
Not a bad day at the office. Not hard to get up at four in the morning and get to work at all.
you watch every Doris Day movie?
No, but I watched quite a few. They're fun, with that heightened sense of reality and the play on words and the energy and the color. The innuendo was absolutely there, but that's what's so much fun about this film. We get to push the envelope a little bit more than was socially acceptable in Doris Day's time, because sex is not quite so taboo now.
this film is more about sexual tension than sex, isn't it?
It felt more flirtatious to me than anything. It was about that crush on the playground. The boy you go and chase, and when you catch him you're going to step on his foot. It's the banter. It's that energy. It's the classic boy-girl scenario. That's what I felt, and I loved it. When you look at it from the outside, you think, Oh, romantic comedy, chick flick, it's pink, it's girly. [But] it's so smart and highly stylized and unique. I think it's going to be a surprise to a lot of people.
talk about the costumes, or what's underneath. You've now experienced retro
The nylons--God--unfortunately, the nylons were a challenge. It helps, though, when you have the waist cinch on and when you've got that really, really extreme brassiere. You put them on and you are Barbara Novak. You sit like those ladies sat because you have to. When you're playing a woman who embraces her femininity on every level, those costumes help.
was the toughest part of filming?
I have this very unfortunate allergy to adhesive. And everyday we had to put fake eyelashes on, and sometimes it became a very lengthy process because they'd get them on, and then I'd cry them off and my eyeballs would swell up like pursed lips. That was definitely a challenge for me.
just completed filming Cold Mountain with Nicole Kidman. It's an entirely
different world from Down with Love or Chicago. Who did you play?
A kind of earthy farm woman who becomes Nicole's best friend. She is so different from most best-friend roles--complicated and unique, of the earth and so not in touch with the inside of herself, because her life depends on her hands and her ability to survive in a tough world. She's a wandering spirit. She is an everywoman, and she belongs nowhere. And yet she is so solid. She's one of the most interesting characters I've ever played.
now the big question: Will a Bridget Jones sequel happen?
It's so funny, because it has been an absolute for a couple of years, and they only approached me with it a month ago. It's still in the process of going from the book into something that works on the screen. So, they're still working on that. My good-faith commitment is that I'm going to be taking a little break, and I'm going to be ready to film it in the fall just in case it's ready to go.
been talking about moving to New York. Are you looking for a change?
I feel like I'm just reaching this period of change. I grew so much this year. I'm open to new experiences. I thought to shake things up a little bit, go to a place where the culture is so diverse, where there's every opportunity to experience different mediums of art and things. I just wanted to change things a little bit. And my dog is old. She can't ride in the car anymore. I'm tired of leaving her at home, so I have to be honest, that's a big part of it. Isn't that crazy? She's really getting old. Now, I'll be pulling her around in her little red wagon through the streets of Manhattan.
by Jeanne Wolf