Personal detailsName: Renee Zellweger
Born: 25 April 1969 (Age: 44)
Where: Houston, Texas, USA
Height: 5' 5"
Awards: Won 1 Oscar, 1 BAFTA and 3 Golden Globes
All about this star
All of a sudden, Renee Zellweger is a star. And not just a star - she's spoken of in informed circles as the newest version of America's Sweetheart, like Mary Pickford decades before. The film that broke her was Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire, where her sweet rasp and expressive features saw her as a perfect romantic foil for Tom Cruise's panicked and morally tested sports agent. Her simple reply to his final, long and impassioned plea for forgiveness - "You had me at Hello" - won over a massive audience, lifting her to the status of genuine top-of-the-bill material. Since then, she has not looked back, in 2003 entering the Top 10 of the biggest box-office stars in the world.
Renee Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25th, 1969, in Katy, a suburb of Houston, Texas. Her father Emil, is Swiss, his mother and father, Emil and Dorothy, first raising him in Au, in the canton of St Gallen, close to the Bodensee and the border with Austria. But, the family having remained in Switzerland to avoid WW2, he spent the latter part of his youth in Australia, at one point serving as a lifeguard on Sydney's Cronulla Beach. Renee's mother Kjelfrid, meanwhile, was born in the far north of Norway, when the country was under Nazi occupation. Renee has described them as "lazy Catholics and Episcopalians". How their near-40-year marriage began is a high romance in itself. Mum was a nurse in Norway, but always pined for warmer climes, eventually securing a job in Houston. Before departing she took a vacation with a girlfriend to neighbouring Denmark and, while onboard a boat en route to their holiday destination, she met Dad, also on a trip with his pals. He asked what she was doing next, she told him and he explained that he would be in Houston too (he'd by then become a US citizen), and would meet her there. She didn't really believe him but, as a nomadic engineer, constantly travelling to work on new refineries, he was there, and he did meet her.
Renee grew up in Katy, along with her older brother Andrew, known as Drew and now a marketing manager in the wine industry (Renee's own nickname is Zelly). She'd follow Drew everywhere, wanting to join in with everything, even baseball, and was something of a tomboy. She was very active, at Junior High joining in with the boys at soccer, basketball, baseball and even football. At age 8 she'd try tap and ballet lessons for a couple of weeks, but quickly packed it in and returned to the field sports she loved. At Katy High School she continued in this active vein, adding to her CV cheerleading (she still loves the Dallas Cowboys) and gymnastics - indeed, two of her early heroines were Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut.