Renee Zellweger

Cold Mountain

Renee Zellweger’s passport has collected more ink than dust in the past year and a half.

The Texas native spent the latter part of 2002 trekking back and forth between the States and the Alps of Transylvania, site of the arduous “Cold Mountain” shoot.

“It was constant planes, trains and automobiles,” Zellweger says, after admitting she ventured down from the mountain more than once just to get home to her dog and cat.

Fast-forward to winter, 2003; the twice Oscar-nominated thesp (“Chicago,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary”) is on the move again.

She has been dividing time between London and Thailand, lensing “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” while working Miramax’s “Cold” publicity train, which has made stops in cities including London, Los Angeles and Gotham.

She will, however, take advantage of some downtime when “Bridget Jones” wraps this month before reporting to work this spring for Ron Howard’s “Cinderella Man.”

Zellweger’s relationship with “Cold Mountain” was a journey all in its own. Years ago she attempted to option the Charles Frazier novel. When she later learned the book had landed in Anthony Minghella’s lap, she was keen to play a part.

Pic concerns the journey of Inman (Jude Law), a wounded Confederate soldier, who in the final days of the Civil War walks home to his beloved, Ada (Nicole Kidman). Originally, Zellweger was orbiting the Ada role, but ultimately she landed alongside Kidman, portraying Ruby Thewes, an intrepid drifter who comes to help Ada salvage her farm.

It was perhaps the role she was destined for: Zellweger brings the dark war pic some much-needed comic relief.

“I was drawn to Ruby’s spirit,” she says. “She’s able, and had a tenacious will to just survive. Ruby never questioned if she could do something; she just did it. The comedic part of her stems from her determination and optimism about just getting through the day when the odds seemed insurmountable.”

Co-star Brendan Gleeson, who plays her father, describes Zellweger as “one big bundle of energy: She breezed on the set the same way she breezes into the movie.” As an actress, he says, “She is committed, instinctual, and has the unique ability to emote without sentimentalizing.”

“I don’t have a daughter of my own,” he adds. “She’ll do just fine.”

Coming attractions: “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” “Cinderella Man”

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