Run don’t walk to read this profile of Renee Zellweger. In an age where no one seems to still be playing the celebrity profile game, this is a masterpiece.
Renee Zellweger didn’t get the most sh*t in Hollywood, but she definitely had enough fame fast enough that her sense of privacy and boundaries was completely eroded. She dated questionable and varied men, had dramatic swings in weight, appeared to have dramatic plastic surgery, and all of this became common property for the world to dissect and opine on.
In this piece she talks about why she left. What that whirlwind was like and what had to happen for her to step out of the FOMO of “sure I’m burned out, but this next project is so great!”
She is returning to the spotlight to play Judy Garland in a new biopic. There is so much great stuff here, but the best part of the interview is deeeeeep: “We sally forth onto a new topic, something I’ve been wanting to not just bring up with her all day but understand for half my life: Why do certain women become gay icons? Judy Garland is the Ur-example of this bizarrely predictable routine, the mother of all troubled stars, both fragile and steely — catnip for the gays. And aren’t all gay men just a little mortified when they realize they actually really do love Judy Garland? And Barbra Streisand? Ugh. And yet we relate to them on some ineffably cosmic level: the suffering, the need to put on a big show for everyone. Turns out, in the Venn diagram of Judy-Renée, you can add gay icon to the shaded-in area. From my unscientific polling, I have learned that most gay men love Renée Zellweger and are rooting for her … because: Roxie Hart, Bridget Jones, you had me at hello. Given that Zellweger is playing Judy Garland, this comes up.”
This whole bit is amazing… especially this: “Zellweger really wants to dig deep with me about growing up gay — she is relentless in her pursuit, like the journalist she thought she was going to be before she fell into acting….She asks: ‘If you were to list the characteristics of the gay men that you know, and obviously we’re talking in a broad-spectrum way. But in the experience of coming up as a closeted gay person, how does it manifest in character? Are there common denominators?’There’s a lot of rage, I say. It surfaces in different ways. And there’s a lot of stunted growth in the gay men that I know. Those are the negatives.
‘My experience of it as an observer is the opposite from that,’ she says. ‘I see that they’re sort of an earlier maturation. And I see that there is that determination that you’re talking about, but it’s not without thoughtfulness. What I witness is a more evolved level of empathy — having been on the receiving end of such unexpected and damaging unkindness.’”
This not only resonated with me as a reader who’d fallen so far in love with Zellweger as she comes across in this piece, but as the mother of a queer child and the very close sibling of a gay brother. A friend had just told me that morning of Eli, “He has been through real life sh*t that most kids his age haven’t.” The pain of being different. The fear of being rejected for being you. The juxtaposition of something feeling right and the world telling you it’s wrong. Yes, it’s better in California in 2019. Yes, he still has white male privilege. But it’s still there, and in impacts your development at a young age. In some bad ways, but also in some good ways.
Everyone reading this newsletter has probably lived the pain of being the “only” or the “other.” But there can be a great gift in it too.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- No guilt! Brag about your latest “me time”
- How did you get into your current role? And how did you get into your career? Was it linear?