“Wonder Woman 1984” is finally here after a long and winding road of delays. “The fact that we’re going to share it with everybody during the holidays is the best feeling,” Gal Gadot tells me as she awaits the film’s Christmas Day debut on HBO Max. “I’m so happy.”
And she’d be happy to do a third “WW,” even though she insists nothing official is in the works. “We have no idea,” Gadot says. “You never know. I would love to do another one if the story is great and with Patty [Jenkins] of course. But I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.” Gadot says a third film would be “nice closure.”
One thing we won’t have to wait for much longer is Zack Snyder’s cut of “Justice League,” which will be released as a four-part series in March on HBO Max followed by a version that will be released as a single film. “I’m very happy for him that he got the opportunity to show his own version of the movie,” Gadot says. “I’m super excited, and I can’t wait to watch it.” You can hear my full interview with Gadot on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.”
A couple of hours after chatting with Gadot, I caught up with Renée Zellweger. She can’t believe that she’s up for a Grammy for “Judy” for traditional pop vocal album. In fact, she had no idea she was even eligible. “It was not on the radar for me at all,” Zellweger says. “I thought we had moved on from that.” When the noms were being announced, she was texting with a friend about a brush fire she was able to see from her Los Angeles-area home. “I was watching the smoke grow up on the ridge, and it turned from white to like a charcoal to a really dark black,” Zellweger says. “And it started to expand. So I was trying to figure out what I was going to pack first after getting the dogs safely in the van.”
Then another friend texted her the Grammy news. “I laughed and I wasn’t sure if they were teasing me or something,” says Zellweger, who won her second Oscar for her portrayal of Garland in the months before the “Wizard of Oz” star died in 1969. “But upon further reading, they weren’t joking. And then the team that fights the fires from the helicopters got the thing out in a quick 10 minutes.”
When I mention that the nominees in her Grammy category also include Burt Bacharach and Daniel Tashian, Harry Connick Jr., James Taylor and Rufus Wainwright, Zellweger, 51, tries to stop me. “Can we not? Let’s not do that,” she says, laughing. “My brain doesn’t understand that. It’s short-circuiting. How do you end up on any list with those folks?”
Zellweger doesn’t remember a time when music wasn’t a part of her life. Her cousins from Norway introduced her to The Beatles and Abba. Her parents took her and her brother to see Elvis Presley and The Jackson 5 at the Astrodome. She also enjoyed disco. “Have you seen the new documentary about the Bee Gees on HBO?” she asks me. “It’s incredible.” Her childhood also included nights at roller rinks. “In junior high, it was the big Friday night hang,” Zellweger recalls. “You’d get dropped off by your mom, and then she’d come pick you up at the very, very, very wee hours. Like 10, 10:30 or 11 if you were really lucky. It was a cultural thing, wasn’t it in America? Freedom for kids because your folks could kind of trust that they knew where you were. They didn’t have to panic that you were going crazy anywhere, and you’d get to meet all your friends and essentially dance around the rink listening to music.”
Later, Zellweger discovered Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty. She says she’s “heartbroken” that she never saw Stevie Ray Vaughan in concert. “That’s not to say I didn’t hear his concerts,” Zellweger says. While living in Austin, her apartment wasn’t that far from Auditorium Shores. “You could hear him playing from Auditorium Shores reverberating off the buildings,” Zellweger recalls. “We’d sit on the balcony and listen and just marvel.”
Zellweger’s vocal chops were catapulted into the spotlight when she starred in Rob Marshall’s 2002 movie adaptation of “Chicago.” “I never understood why Rob had invited me to be part of that,” she says. “And so it was all about Rob for me, that process. Whatever he was asking and whatever he believed was necessary was good for me. I was fine with that. And I was going to try anything that he thought might be helpful. Whatever he thought was important was on the list of things that I was going to try really hard to achieve.”
At home, Zellweger plays piano and guitar, but she has no grand plans for a music career. “I play every day, but I’m not a learned player,” she says. “I memorize what I write, but I don’t know what the goal really is.”
She jokes about the possibility of releasing an album of original music one day. “If I ever get the courage to play to anybody but the dogs,” Zellweger says. “Based on their reactions, I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
Before we go off to celebrate the holidays (as best we can during this weird and painful year), I want to give a shout-out to three of my favorite charities. If you can give, please consider the Los Angeles LGBT Center, MusiCares or The Rona Barrett Foundation. Each of these organizations provides lifesaving support for some of the most vulnerable — aid and comfort that has never been more essential in these hard times.
With love and gratitude, happy new year, everybody.