E N T E R TA I N M E N T | R E N E E Z E L LW EG E R
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
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
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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