Renée Zellweger Opens Up About Burnout And Depression After Retreating From Hollywood

The Oscar-winning star of the upcoming movie Judy stopped acting for six years, realising she was experiencing burnout and depression.

After a string of career highs, followed by a valley of box-office and critical duds, actor Renée Zellweger made headlines for largely retreating from the Hollywood spotlight from 2010 until 2016, when she returned to the big screen to reprise one of her most famous roles in Bridget Jones’s Baby.

In a profile published on Tuesday in Vulture, the Oscar-winning star recounted that she had experienced burnout and depression because of her relentless career in the early 2000s.

Renée Zellweger
Renée Zellweger
Vivien Killilea via Getty Images

“I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the last thing on my list of priorities,” she said, describing that during her period away from acting, she began seeing a therapist for the first time.

“He recognised that I spent 99 percent of my life as the public persona and just a microscopic crumb of a fraction in my real life. I needed to not have something to do all the time, to not know what I’m going to be doing for the next two years in advance.

“I wanted to allow for some accidents. There had to be some quiet for the ideas to slip in.”

She also recalled not being able to recognise that she was burned out due to the relentless pace of her career, saying that she kept pretending that “you’re okay to go and do this next thing”.

“You probably need to stop right now, but this creative opportunity is so exciting and it’s once-in-a-lifetime and you will regret not doing it,” she said. “But actually, no, you should collect yourself and, you know … rest.

Renée in character as Judy Garland
Renée in character as Judy Garland
Pathe UK/PA

Renée said she also worries about younger actors, warning of the dangers of constantly working.

“You’re really unhealthy and unbalanced and, you know, about to die. And then you look back on it and wonder what happened,” she said. “And where are the relationships that you didn’t have a chance to nurture?”

The actor has also been candid about sexist scrutiny of women’s appearances, especially as they get older.

In a 2016 piece for HuffPost, she responded to the furore over a 2014 public appearance that drew speculation over whether she had gotten plastic surgery (which she denied), calling out tabloid journalism’s propensity to capitalise on women’s looks.

“It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,” she wrote. “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.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email:
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on

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