Renée Zellweger made the news when she reappeared on the red carpet in 2014 after a six-year absence from Hollywood. Many people were taken aback by her new “look,” citing how her face looked different, or her eyes were bigger, or any number of other subjective observations.
The conclusion, reached by many an amateur observer, was that Zellweger had plastic surgery. The actress herself never admitted to any procedure, and shot down the critics by declaring, “Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older? Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.”
She went on to insist that her dramatic new look (at the time) was the result of “living a different, happy, more fulfilling life.”
With that, the unnecessary debate faded out of conversation. Until last Thursday, that is, when Variety‘s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote a bizarre column essentially dissecting Zellweger and her appearance.
This wasn’t out of the blue; Zellweger is set to reprise her role as the titular Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Baby in September. It’s the first time we’ve seen her leading a major motion picture since 2010’s My Own Love Song alongside Forest Whitaker.
Gleiberman claims that watching the trailer for the upcoming Bridget Jones sequel spurred his thoughts and inspired the article. He debates if she’s had plastic surgery (again, Zellweger never said she did), and wonders if her new “look” makes her a different actress, and thus somehow not as watchable.
“In the case of Renée Zellweger, it may look to a great many people like something more than an elaborate makeup job has taken place, but we can’t say for sure,” he wrote. “What we can say is that if that happened, it reflects something indescribably sad about our culture. For in addition to being a great actress, Zellweger, as much or more than any star of her era, has been a poster girl for the notion that each and every one of us is beautiful in just the way God made us. It wasn’t until Bridget Jones’s Diary, five years later, that she hit her stride by finding a role that jelled with her image as an extraordinary ordinary girl.”
“Watching the trailer, I didn’t stare at the actress and think: She doesn’t look like Renée Zellweger,” he continued. “I thought: She doesn’t look like Bridget Jones! Oddly, that made it matter more. Celebrities, like anyone else, have the right to look however they want, but the characters they play become part of us. I suddenly felt like something had been taken away,” he concluded.
Gleiberman even goes on to discuss Zellweger’s weight gain for the other Bridget Jones movies, and how she now resembles “a victim of Invasion of the Face Snatchers.”
Angry Twitter users, including actresses Christina Applegate and Rose McGowan, immediately leaped to Zellweger’s defence. (WARNING: Some foul language below!)
Gleiberman has not responded to any of the public criticism, and has not attempted to clarify the point he was trying to make in the article. You can read it in its entirety here.