What Renée Zellweger Did When She Overheard Three Strangers Mocking Her Face

There are few red carpet moments that have made such an impact as the one actress Renée Zellweger had in 2014.

Questions around the actress' face, or more specifically, what she had 'done' to it began to come in thick and fast as speculation of plastic surgery began to swirl.

The experience brought humiliation to Zellweger, now 50, on a global scale and she spoke openly about the experience later in the same year.

Yet Zellweger -- who retreated from public life in in 2010 only to return to unsolicited comments about her appearance in one of her first spotlight reentries -- has now discussed the moment she overheard complete strangers doing just that, making fun of her face.

The 2014 appearance that set off comments about Renée Zellweger's face. Image: Getty

The "painful" experience took place on the London subway during an exchange between a man and two women he was sitting with.

“They were talking about Hollywood and how Hollywood ladies are so silly, especially that Renée Zellweger,” Zellweger told SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle during a Town Hall session.

“How could she do that? Why would she go and have surgery on her face like we wouldn’t know? She doesn’t look like herself, and you can’t just do that where you go and don’t look like yourself, ‘cause we expect you to look like yourself,” Zellweger continued to explain.

And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting. Anyway, here’s my stop'. So I get up and I stand next to the door waiting for it to open and the man is still talking about how stupid I am. And he looked up and he said, ‘Oh God, you’re not — you are! Oh my God, but you look just like yourself!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s funny how that works, isn’t it?’

Reflecting on the experience, Zellweger said the verbal exchange did hurt her but she was able to move on from it.

“It’s only momentarily where you go, ‘Jeez, wow, that’s pretty painful.’ But I don’t live in that,” she said. “It just visits my life here and there and I’m not really privy on that stuff until someone sends it to me. I don’t seek it out.”

Zellweger with SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle during a Town Hall session. Image: Getty

“And I’m busy! You know, I have dogs and they have to have shots and they need pills twice a day. There’s a lot, you know. I have other things to do,” she joked.

Zellweger had previously made a very conscious decision to step out of the spotlight after an extended length of time being a prominent Hollywood fixture.

The actress recently discussed the experience with Vulture, adding that it was in part spurred on by some advice she received from fellow actress, Salma Hayek.

Zellweger in 2019. Image: Getty

“She shared this beautiful… metaphor? Analogy? ‘The rose doesn’t bloom all year … unless it’s plastic’,” Zellweger said.

“I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the last thing on my list of priorities,” she explained, adding it was around this period she began seeing a therapist for the first time.

He recognised that I spent 99 percent of my life as the public persona and just a microscopic crumb of a fraction in my real life. 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.

This lead her to reflect on her mental health and helped Zellweger to realise she was struggling with depression.

"One of the fears that maybe, as artists, we all share - because we have this public experience of being criticised not just for our work but as human beings - is when it gets to be too much, when you learn that your skin is not quite as thick as you need it to be, what is that gonna feel like? Well, now I know. I got the hardest kick. And it ain’t the end."

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Zellweger said following this realisation she "had a good five-year period when I was  joyful and in a new chapter that no one was even aware of."

It was after her acting hiatus that the commentary about her appearance and suggestions of plastic surgery began when she made an at the time, rare, red carpet appearance in 2014.

Featured image: Getty