Renée Zellweger


Interviewed by Stella Papamichael

Fresh from her Oscar-nominated performance in "Bridget Jones's Diary", Texan actress Renée Zellweger is all (Roxie) Hart in Rob Marshall's "Chicago"...

You've never sung or danced on film before. What gave you the confidence to try?

It all goes back to Rob [Marshall, the director]. He decided that it would be OK. He never questioned it and so I never really had to think about it.

When I got to the set it was more about what we had to work on that day and what we needed to accomplish. It became about the joy of discovering things. There wasn't really time for me to step back and say "Whoa, was that awful?"

Rob did my part, Richard's part, all the dancers' parts, and showed us how it was done. He put it inside of us and made a really safe environment for everybody. Before "Chicago", I wouldn't sing for anyone but my dog.

So you really put your faith in Rob?

I know this whole thing, from beginning to end, was in his head. He knew that the tap dancing sequence would have to be played a certain way so that it would cut into the realistic version of that scene.

Sometimes I knew from just trying to play a scene that something wasn't quite right. Then you try it again a few times and sometimes you say "That's it!". Rob knew that it would all come together seamlessly.

Did anyone advise you not to take the risk?

One of my closest friends, who's also my manager, has the same taste in material. I didn't understand the "Chicago" script and I have no background in musicals. But he called me and said, "You have to meet Rob Marshall. He's extraordinarily bright and he seems like a wonderful guy. Someone you'd have as a friend."

So I met with Rob and that was it. I didn't care if I couldn't sing a note, if I fell down on my face and broke my ankles. Even if I was going to be laughed at for the rest of my life, I was going to have the experience that Rob was about to create and make this guy my friend.

"Chicago" is now playing in London. It opens in the rest of the UK on Friday 17th January 2003.