Renée Zellweger just revealed that she took a hiatus from acting to manage her depression. The Oscar-winning star spoke with New York Magazine in the lead up to her new role as Judy Garland in the upcoming film Judy. She shed some light on her choice to step away from the wild world of acting in 2010 for six years, after garnering great success in blockbusters such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago. She said she hit pause on her career as a time for self care in the face of depression.
“I wasn’t healthy,” Zellweger told New York Magazine. “I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the last thing on my list of priorities.” When she got clarity that this was an issue, the 50-year-old actress says she went to therapy for the first time ever. This helped her come to terms with her emotions.
“[My therapist] recognized that I spent 99 percent of my life as the public persona and just a microscopic crumb of a fraction in my real life,” she said. “I needed to not have something to do all the time, to not know what I’m going to be doing for the next two years in advance. I wanted to allow for some accidents. There had to be some quiet for the ideas to slip in.”
Another groundbreaking moment for her mental health happened when she ran into her friend and the actress Salma Hayek who gave her this advice: ‘The rose doesn’t bloom all year… unless it’s plastic.”
She told New York Magazine, this quote really woke her up. “What does that mean?” she said. “It means that you have to fake that you’re okay to go and do this next thing. And you probably need to stop right now, but this creative opportunity is so exciting and it’s once-in-a-lifetime and you will regret not doing it. But actually, no, you should collect yourself and, you know … rest.”
So, rest she did. She didn’t star in another movie until 2016's Bridget Jones’s Baby. But that didn’t mean she didn’t make the occasional appearance. For example, in 2014, Zellweger attended the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards, after which she received tons of online attention for what many described as a “new look,” which some people claimed was unrecognizable, insinuating plastic surgery. (Yes, the Internet is a trash-fire place.) She gracefully responded in an essay for HuffPost called "We Can Do Better"
“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she told told People magazine at the time. Refelcting on the incident, she New York Magazine: “Nothing like international humiliation to set your perspective right! It clarifies what’s important to you. And it shakes off any sort of clingy superficiality … that you didn’t have time for anyway.”
All told, Zellweger said her "rough patch" with depression only lasted about a year during her acting break. “I had a good five-year period when I was joyful and in a new chapter that no one was even aware of," she said.
Now, with her Garland biopic about to be released at the end of September, Zellweger has a much better outlook on things and says she's ready to take on Hollywood as a director next.