Renée Zellweger has finally opened up about why she took a nearly five-year-long break from acting. In a candid new interview with PEOPLE, the actress revealed she was suffering from exhaustion due to her then-hectic schedule.
“I think I was really tired. And what I hadn’t learned at that point and should have a long, long time ago – but for some of us takes a little bit longer – is how to take care of myself with respect to acknowledging limitations and boundaries,” she said.
Following her string of successes in films like Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Chicago (2002), and her Oscar-winning turn in Cold Mountain (2003), her career began to take a bit of a downturn — and so did her personal life. By 2005, she had annulled her highly publicized marriage to country music star Kenny Chesney after just four months. She then began dating Bradley Cooper in 2009; however, the couple split in early 2011.
“My personal life had taken a back seat to fulfilling my professional obligations. I felt a responsibility not to let people down. And so I just kept going,” she said. “And there wasn’t a reason not to. I didn’t have children or an established relationship that dictated I make different choices.”
As she struggled to find the same success she had earned in the early part of the decade, Renée told PEOPLE she began to lose motivation.
“Everything was about going from one professional obligation to the next. And that’s what I call them now, when they should have been exciting opportunities, creative opportunities or life adventures. Like laughing, driving to Sony, because Tom Cruise is there,” she said. “When you have nothing to go home to, no one to celebrate these things with, it’s time to maybe reassess and figure out what you’re not doing right.”
It was around this time that she decide to take a break from Hollywood — and the career she had once loved so much.
“I can’t remember if there was one defining moment. I don’t think so. I think I was just taking inventory of my life,” she said. “I had made so many promises to myself about things that I wanted to explore, things I wanted to try, and how I would like to grow as a person that I had made no time for. And I thought, ‘That’s enough. Because I don’t want to be this person 10 years from now. I want to become more of who I’m supposed to be.'”
As she began to take stock of her life, she started realize what truly made her happy. By 2012, she had begun dating her longtime friend from Texas, blues guitarist/singer Doyle Bramhall II. Of their relationship, she told Vogue UK, “There is a familiarity between us, that sense you have when you’re with someone and you know you are home.”
And after nearly six years away from the big screen, she’s now ready to come back into the spotlight by reprising her career-defining role as Bridget Jones in the third installment of the franchise, Bridget Jones’s Baby, which hits theaters tomorrow (September 16). ~Shelby Morton
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