Renée Zellweger is the queen of reinvention. Throughout her 30-year acting career, the iconic actress has morphed her look for every character she’s played.
We first met a baby-faced Zellweger in the cult classic film Empire Records with her ’90s bangs and brown lipstick, and later fell in love after her performance in the wonderful Bridget Jones — a role for which the actress famously gained about 33 pounds.
Now we’re about to see the 50-year-old reinvent herself again, making her TV series debut in the juicy new Netflix thriller What/If, which explores “the ripple effects of what happens when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things.” We know very little about this mysterious show so far, but the teaser trailer shows a stunningly svelte Zellweger rocking a beautiful blond bob, striding seductively through a crowded room decked out in heels and a gorgeous gown.
All Netflix will say about What/If so far is that it explores a mysterious woman’s lucrative but dubious offer to a cash-strapped pair of San Francisco newlyweds. “What if I made you an offer too extraordinary to refuse?” Zellweger’s character Anne purrs in a seductive voiceover, hinting at the alluring offer.
In the one promotional image we’ve seen, Zellweger’s gorgeous toned figure is poured into a slim white dress, her blonde locks blow-dried into a perfect bob and her incredible skin is glowing.
When Zellweger stepped out on the red carpet at the Women in Hollywood event in 2014, both social media and mainstream news outlets lit up with commentary about the then 47-year-old’s very different look.
“I’m glad folks think I look different” Zellweger told PEOPLE when asked about the commentary shortly after the internet commentary went into overdrive, “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she added, referencing the six-year acting hiatus she took to focus more on her health and well-being.
“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy. For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself,” she said.
“Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things. People don’t know me in my 40s,” Zellweger added. “People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.”
Then in 2016, Zellweger penned a brutally honest open letter in The Huffington Post discussing the intense media speculation about her new look.
“Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes. This fact is of no true import to anyone at all,” she wrote. “It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,” she continued.
“Although we have evolved to acknowledge the importance of female participation in determining the success of society, and take for granted that women are standard bearers in all realms of high profile position and influence, the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snark entertainment.”
“Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly, or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh; headline material which emphasizes the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth, and serve as parameters around a very narrow suggested margin within which every one of us must exist in order to be considered socially acceptable and professionally valuable, and to avoid painful ridicule.”
“The resulting message is problematic for younger generations and impressionable minds, and undoubtably triggers myriad subsequent issues regarding conformity, prejudice, equality, self-acceptance, bullying, and health.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.