Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Renee Zellweger: The Incredible Disappearing Woman

I never thought it would have happened to Miss "You Had Me At Hello": a bizarre miracle of transformation that has rendered her almost unrecognizable to her fans.

We all know what she looked like "before", though sometimes it was evident there was a little brow-lifting and Botox-ing going on. She wasn't a ravishing beauty, but then, she wasn't supposed to be! She was Bridget Jones! She was the chick in Jerry Maguire! She was Rene Zellweger, everybody's girl friend, with the pouty lips and the great cheekbones and the Icelandic heritage that lent her a tinge of exoticism.

Not any more. This is what she looks like now.

Uh, maybe like Candace Bergen's younger sister? There's still something Nordic going on, but - hey, who the hell IS this anyway? The weird black line drawn around her jaw and chin had me thinking, just for a minute, that the glue on her mask was still wet and it was being held on with a string.

Uh. . . Liv Ullman's younger sister, maybe?   One wonders who she was trying to model her face on. Not on herself, obviously.

What bugs me however is how she has lost her personality along with her old face. Renee was always sort of neurotic, sort of apologetic, sort of tearful. She fretted, she brooded, and sometimes she girlishly giggled and turned cartwheels of joy. It was just the kind of character she was good at playing. Now she's - 

. . . extremely thin. Gone are the extra 20 pounds of puppy fat she gained to play Bridget Jones. She's thin as a stick, so that it looks like she's somehow attained a new body, too. I guess it goes with the blandly Barbie-ish face.

I've written about plastic surgery before, and I'm tired and weary to be writing about it again. An actress shouldn't erase herself like this. Though she may believe she'll get more parts now because she looks so "great", so "young", so "beautiful," etc.,  no casting director in the world will want her now because she is not recognizably herself. If you want Renee Zellweger, you want Renee Zellweger, someone who has a huge fan base and has been familiar to audiences for 20 years. If she shows up looking like this, with Renee's slightly nasal, slightly squeaky voice coming out of Barbie's mouth (unless she has also somehow erased her voice too), people will be more than slightly confused.

I have to reluctantly admit that, given Hollywood's dread and hatred of the ageing process, most actresses feel compelled to have some repair work done as time grinds them down. Susan Sarandon doesn't seem to have fallen victim yet, Helen Mirren has the best bone structure in human history, and Judi Dench can play anyone from age 40 to age 80, rearranging her face at will. But the rest of them - perhaps it's forgiveable, though a couple of years ago I was pretty horrified to see Helen Hunt with a completely paralyzed forehead. Her eyebrows never moved, removing half the expression from her face and clashing most awfully with her more age-appropriate 40-year-old throat.

For Renee, however, I predict this won't be a good move. She'll have to change her name or something, start all over again. If Tom Cruise showed up on a set looking like - God, like who? Like Shia Lebeouf or whatever-his-name-is - ? The point is, if Tom Cruise suddenly looked like a male mannequin approximately 30 years of age, he might have problems being cast in anything. Nobody would know who he was.

This is the most eerie example I've ever seen of a human being erasing herself. It could not possibly have been done as an act of self-love. (Narcissism, perhaps, but that's self-obsession.) I remember writing a post about Renee's public drunkenness at the Oscars in 2013 (which everyone seems to have forgotten). Though excuses were quickly invented that she had taken a Valium to calm down, her slurring and inability to read three words off a card that night created a lot of buzz. 

I guess it's no stretch to say this isn't a happy woman, but what bothers me most of all is that she'll probably never work again. You can't start all over again and just be someone else (though in a sense, that's what the picture business is all about). In a very sad way, given Hollywood's obsession with appearance, Renee Zellweger no longer exists. There is no longer any brand recognition. She has erased it permanently. Her "old"  self has been shoved away in an attic somewhere, like the picture of Dorian Grey.

It's been good to know you, Renee. I'm sad we'll never see you again.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look