Stand by your man
Renee Zellweger turns in an emotional performance
as the wife of boxer James Braddock in Ron Howards Cinderella
By Chris Betros
Renee Zellweger says she lives a blessed
Im so spoiled in terms of the creative opportunities
I have been given that I feel like a glutton, remarks
the 36-year-old actress. She has had a topsy-turvy year that
included getting married to country singer Kenny Chesney (and
then splitting up after only four months) and a strong supporting
role in Ron Howards boxing film Cinderella Man, in which
she plays the wife of impoverished Depression-era boxer James
Braddock (Russell Crowe), who fights his way up the ranks
to face champ Max Baer.
There has already been talk of a best supporting actress Oscar
nomination for Zellweger, which would be a welcome addition
to her Oscar for Cold Mountain and her nomination for Chicago.
Its flattering when people talk about your work
like that, she said. I dont spend my time
thinking about an Oscar. I just hope that people will take
something inspirational away from seeing this film. The Braddock
family was pleased, so that made me very happy.
Born in Texas to a Swiss father and Norwegian mother, Zellweger
got interested in acting in high school while working in the
drama club. After graduating with a theater degree from the
University of Texas, she filmed some beef commercials and
landed bit parts in movies such as Reality Bites (1994) and
Empire Records (1995) before getting her big break opposite
Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1995). She has proven adept at
comedy and drama, working nonstop for the last few years in
films such as Nurse Betty (2000), White Oleander (2002), Down
With Love (2003), and the two Bridget Joness Diary films
(2001 and 2005).
Zellweger admitted that it takes her up to a year to shed
her characters. I get asked almost every day how I managed
to lose the weight I put on for Bridget Jones. It took a lot
of running, going to the gym, and laying off the pizza for
a while. But my British accent still slips out. I say loo
and bin occasionally, she says softly, often
staring down, lifting her head only at the end of a sentence.
She described the role of May Braddock as the quietest character
she has played to date. Its a very cerebral characterization.
There was so much to admire about this woman, how she stood
by her husband. I was moved by their story because it is simple
and yet it makes you renegotiate your life perspective. Its
rare for America to make a film like this without sensationalizing
Zellweger had nothing but praise for director Howard and costars
Crowe (whose trip to Japan was canceled because of a New York
court date) and Paul Giamatti. It was a focused set,
quiet and intense. Everyone had a shared passion which I find
very rewarding creatively. Ron is so smart and enthusiastic
and it was contagious, while Russell lived the life of a boxer
the whole time. Its very easy to go somewhere else to
another time and place with an actor of his caliber. Paul
is wonderful, too. Only recently have people started putting
the name with his face, and Im glad to see him getting
Tune into 76.1 InterFM Monday to THURSDAY
from 6-9Am and youll hear DJ Yasuhiko Akasaka, the Wolfman
Jack of Japan, on his show One on One. During his career,
Akasaka has been a rock singer, TV sports commentator, narrator
and this year he performed in a Japanese version of the Broadway
musical Never Gonna Dance.
Whats your show all about?
Playing good music and having fun. I remember something Wolfman
Jack told me in New York in 1995he said radio is a happy
What was Wolfman Jack like?
Hes the reason I became a DJ 20 years ago. He told me
that he hoped I would follow in his footsteps. After he passed
away, his wife told me that he had a picture of me in their
How are US and Japanese DJs different?
DJs get paid more in the US and are more opinionated. They
inject their personality into a show to stand out because
there are hundreds of radio stations. I used to be like that
when I was doing the midnight show.
What about now?
I dont express my views with words, but with songs.
On Aug 15, for example, which was the 60th anniversary of
the end of the war, I played the Beatles All You
Need Is Love and Satchmos (Louis Armstrong) What
a Wonderful World.
Who are some of the most memorable artists you have interviewed?
Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers and the Eagles. Once, after
interviewing The Temptations, I went to their concert and
they called me up on stage and asked me to perform My
Girl with them.
Is it tough doing the morning show?
My life has changed, thats for sure. I get up about
4am and eat way too much convenience store food. I dont
get much time to go out with friends anymore.
How many CDs and records do you own?
Thousands, and they are filling up four rooms at home.
If you were marooned on a desert island, which music would
you want with you?
Sam Cook, Satchmo and The Beatles.
Do you think there will be radio in 5-10 years?
As long as there are listeners, radio is eternal. CB
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