Renée Zellweger: White Trash Fantasy

Renée Zellweger got her start in show biz by landing small roles in films such as Dazed and Confused and Reality Bites--films shot in her native Texas. Then she nabbed the lead in Love and a .45. No one saw .45, but casting directors were impressed with her turn as a white-trash, trailer park-dwelling sex kitten who joins her drug store-robbing boyfriend on the lam. Now she's starring in a big-budget film, Empire Records, playing yet another white-trash vixen. Although she keeps playing trash, in person Zellweger is polite, sweet and more fun than a barrel of cowboys.


HEIDI PARKER: How did you land Love and a .45?

RENEE ZELLWEGER: When I saw a copy of the script, I thought, Hello, I can do this! I made an audition tape in my dining room with my roommates. They hadn't made a tape before so when the script said, 'Car Driving,' they'd make sounds like vroom-vroom. It was so bad [laughs], but damn if I wasn't gonna get the part!

Q: You've said before that when no one was looking, you're the girl from Love and a .45. True?

A: Well, she's my fantasy character, like when I get together with my girlfriends and have a little wine, she comes out.

Q: Your mom's Norwegian, so's mine--can you speak the language?

A: I can count to 20. How do you say "sweaty balls"?

Q: I didn't learn how to say that. Sweaty balls?

A: That's what they say in Austin to describe something that sucks-- oh God, now sweaty balls will be in the interview!

Q: Have you thought about image-shaping?

A: I think that's really disgusting. I'm not talking to my manager about what I'm wearing to a party. I mean, I wear these shoes that my dog chewed on [holds up clog with large bite mark], but I'm not throwin' them away. I can't control how people see me and I don't give a shit either.

Q: What was it like picking up roles in films that were shot in Texas? Did you get friendly with Luke Perry when making 8 Seconds?

A: You don't really make friends because you're only on the set for a day or two so you kinda feel like an outsider. Luke became a cowboy after that film--he got hooked on country music and cowboy hats.

Q: Were bucks flying around Empire Records, your first big-budget film?

A: I've never been in a situation before where someone says, "We need a blah-blah car"and the producer says, "Well, get one then!" On an indie they'll rationalize not needing it and say, "We really don't need this car because if you think about the psychological aspects, it doesn't really need to be there, right?"

Q: How's your first year of living in L.A. going?

A: What's that maze with a Minotaur in it? That's what L.A, is like. High walls with no way out, full of nasty, evil people who want to mug you. I miss normal folk.