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Five minutes with... Renee Zellweger Renee Zellweger, 50, takes on her first leading role in television thanks to new Netflix miniseries What/If, a social thriller that explores the ripple effects of what happens when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things. Gemma Dunn finds out more

Tell us about your character, Anne

‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s movies that they don’t make


anymore, that heightened reality. It felt like

I don’t think I’ve ever played anyone quite

we were making a film. We were joking that

like her. She’s a lady with a plan and it’s a

that’s how you get your movie made these

very meticulously calculated plan. She’s

days: you call it TV!

diabolical and I love her. She’s the product of her life experiences, as we all are, but

The show is set in silicon valley, involving

it hasn’t been an easy road. She’s taken

these tech giants. You’re not on social

what’s been challenging in her life and used

media, why?

it to her benefit. If you want to talk about

I don’t know a lot about it because I don’t

her as a survivor, she’s a survivor at any cost

really play, but I know it’s there, and I

and I find her sympathetic. She’s got great

know that it’s very important historically.

taste, great style and she’s so determined

I know that it has shifted societies and it’s

that she’s unflappable. Even when most

enabled so much advancement, especially

others might feel that they’re facing a moral

in medicine and things, but I don’t hop on

dilemma, she doesn’t recognise it as that.

there. I mean, I’ll never say never, because

She only sees the goal.

it might be interesting to explore some day Renee Zellweger attending the Vanity Fair Oscar

for something, but the things I might get

Is it more fun to play a figure that is

Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for

from it that I value, I get in other places. Like

nothing like yourself?

the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles,

I call my friends, or I get together with my

Usually. You know, the more different they

California, USA | ÊIan West/PA Images

friends and we take photographs and share

are, the more creatively satisfying it is,

them in a different way.

that’s for sure. And I think it’s probably easier to lose yourself in a role when she’s

energy and her self-loathing and her

Do you see it as a positive platform to

a departure from what you know. The show

disappointment and, instead of channelling

speak out?

is well written, the characters are unusual

it into alcoholism and affection for the

Anything that I might say, that is an opinion

and it’s a world that’s unusual. It pushes

boy down the street, what if she was to

about what’s happening politically or

the boundaries about morality. You want to

be proactive and build something like

socially or whatever, I want to talk about it at

know what’s going to happen when people

an empire so that she could manipulate

a dinner table. I would be afraid that I would

make outrageous choices. That’s how I felt

circumstances and the people in her life

trivialise something that deserved more

when the scripts came in. I just needed to

instead?’ I thought, ‘Yeah! Wardrobe!’.

reverence by just throwing up a tweet about

know where it was going and what was

something that is of personal importance. It also marks your first big TV role. How

I don’t want to cheapen it like that; I don’t

did you find it?

want to feel obligated to comment on

Did anyone in particular inspire your

Well, I guess we didn’t have all the words in

things that I don’t need to have an opinion

portrayal of Anne?

advance, so the preparation process was a

about, because it’s none of my business.

Oh sure. [Creator] Mike Kelley and I

little bit different. But other than that, it felt

discussed Anne Bancroft quite a bit. And

very cinematic in how Mike chose to shoot

Mrs Robinson and The Graduate. He said,

it. There are all these film noir references

‘Take that, all that power and that sexual

that you can see and a little wink to those

going to happen to everybody.



What/If launched on Netflix on May 24. Word by Gemma Dunn, Press Association

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House & Lifestyle | 205  

Your free monthly property and lifestyle magazine in available in hundreds of outlets throughout Dorset & Hampshire.