Actress had audiences at 'hello'

“You had me at ‘hello,'” says Renee Zellweger to Tom Cruise in 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.” The line was penned by the film’s writer-director Cameron Crowe, but it was Zellweger’s delivery that cemented it in the lexicon of the most oft-repeated quotes from American movies.

It was a starmaking turn, for sure, and marked the transformation of a woman from origins both humble and exotic, raised in small-town Texas by a Swiss father and Norwegian mother, to a full-fledged A-list actress known for her spunk. (“When I told her, ‘You got the part,'” Crowe has claimed, “she said, ‘What makes you think I’ll take it?’ “)

In the decade since, she has divided her attentions between solemn mainstream fare like “Cinderella Man” to indie statements like Neil LaBute’s “Nurse Betty.” She has also shown a flair for comedy, both broad (the Farrelly brothers’ “Me, Myself and Irene”) and sophisticated (“Bridget Jones’s Diary” and its sequel).

Zellweger also helped revive the screen musical in “Chicago,” for which she received her second Oscar nomination, and finally won the best supporting actress statuette for “Cold Mountain.” She is currently filming “Leatherheads” opposite George Clooney, who also directs.

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