Renée Zellweger is among the most critically revered actresses of her generation. The Jerry Maguire star proudly owns two Academy Awards and is a millionaire many times over. For all her success, her very first acting role was not a terribly memorable one. Let’s look back on it.
A Classic Film
The daughter of an engineer and a nurse, Zellweger didn’t take up acting until she attended the University of Texas at Austin. While pursuing a degree in English, she took a drama class. The seeds were planted, and she soon snapped up bit roles. A Coors Light commercial got her a Screen Actors Guild card.
With a degree in hand, 1993 saw Zellweger’s first theatrical performances. At 24 years old, she had a speaking role in the horror-comedy My Boyfriend’s Back. Sadly for her, the scenes were cut. This means her very first official acting role came in a bona fide classic: Dazed and Confused.
Blink And You’ll Miss It
Off the success of stoner comedy Slacker, Richard Linklater’s 1993 film gave numerous actors their first tiny slice of mainstream success. The ensemble film is loaded with cameos from future mainstream names. Chasing Amy stars Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams are in it, as are Milla Jovich and Parker Posey to name a few.
The film proved to be a star-making vehicle for Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey says “alright, alright alright” for the first time. Another of his iconic lines from the film is a grimy ode to high school girls: “that’s what I love about high school girls. I get older, they stay the same age.” Everyone knows this line, but do you know who he was looking at seconds before saying it?
That’s right: Zellweger. She earned a few other seconds of screentime in the film, but no lines.
Those few seconds of screentime helped launch Zellweger… well not really. But it is a fun easter egg in film history.
On To Better Things
The following year, Zellweger really got started in earnest. She and McConaughey co-starred in the oft-maligned Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, and she worked with Ben Stiller on Reality Bites. By the end of the decade, she had established herself as a proper movie star.
She’s currently taking her talents to television. Zellweger stars as Pam Hupp in NBC’s true crime series The Thing About Pam. She also scored an executive producer credit. Good for her! And to think it all started with about 16 seconds of screentime nearly thirty years ago.
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