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'Bridget' Takes Over Renee's Life

Acting is a job that replaces your life, especially if you are playing a character like Bridget Jones, says Oscar winner Renee Zellweger.

"It's pretty much all encompassing in terms of where you go and how you live and where you're living," the actress tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

In 2002, Zellweger received the first of what would be three consecutive Oscar nominations playing self-doubting, calorie-counting Bridget Jones and this fall, she reprised the role in the sequel, "Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason."

The character is really "easy to relate to, because I think she's a representation of the struggle that we all face in trying to measure up to society's standards," Zellweger says.

"The media project all sorts of paradigms of what it is we're supposed to achieve and acquire and look like in order to consider yourself successful and beautiful. And Bridget Jones is not out of a magazine. And in spite of that, she manages to define happiness for herself."

The physicality involved in Bridget's pratfalls and failures is fun to do, Zellweger adds. "It is so much fun! I looked forward to it every time we were going to go and do some weird Bridget scenario like that."

Zellweger has a new, dark-haired look. It is for "The Cinderella Man," a movie directed by Ron Howard and co-starring fellow Oscar winner Russell Crowe. It's the story of Jim Braddock, a scrappy boxer who became a Depression-era folk hero.

After that movie, scheduled for release next year, Zellweger plans to take some time off "to do a little just Renee life, you know?

"And I'm very excited about all of the possibilities," she says. "I'm very excited. There is a lot -- a lot to learn and I'm looking forward to it."

Some Facts About Renee Zellweger

  • Renee Kathleen Zellweger was born in Houston, Texas, on April 25, 1969.
  • In 1993, Zellweger made her television debut as one of the victims in the ABC miniseries "Murder in the Heartland"; she made her feature acting debut in "Dazed and Confused."
  • After a small performance in 1994's "Reality Bites," Zellweger landed her first leading role as the trailer-trash gun moll Starlene in "Love and a .45."
  • In 1995, Zellweger impressed critics in "Empire Records."
  • In 1996, Zellweger beat out Winona Ryder, Bridget Fonda, Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei to land the coveted role of single mother Dorothy Boyd, the love interest to Tom Cruise's "Jerry Maguire" in Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy.
  • In 2000, the actress gained critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Fetsival in the movie, "Nurse Betty."
  • In 2001, Zellweger won the coveted role of Bridget Jones, a character who was seen as representative of a segment of British society, in the film adaptation of "Bridget Jones's Diary."
  • In 2002, Zellweger took the supporting role of a foster mother in the film adaptation of the bestseller "White Oleander."
  • In 2003, Zellweger tackled one her greatest challenges as an actress, which called for her to sing and dance in the film musical "Chicago"; Zellweger earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the role; Her next role was as a modern Doris Day opposite Ewan McGregor in the romantic comedy "Down With Love."
  • In 2004, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing a backwoods country-woman in "Cold Mountain."
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