Renée Zellweger has a decidedly fresh perspective on aging in Hollywood.
Featured on the cover of InStyle‘s December issue, the 50-year-old actress — who’s on the road to awards season glory with a lead turn as Judy Garland in this fall’s Judy — opens up about continuing to look forward while never taking life for granted.
“It doesn’t consume me because it’s inevitable; it’s a privilege,” Zellweger says. “I’d rather celebrate each phase of my life and be present in it than mourn something that’s passed. I don’t want to miss this moment to be something that I used to be.”
While she may have transitioned from one phase of her life to another, she has nothing but support for the young actors who are just venturing into their careers, especially because she knows firsthand how grueling of a grind it can be.
“That’s for someone else now,” she says. “And good luck to them, because you have to survive a lot to move forward to your next state. … I’d rather be a healthy, productive woman in each stage of my life than apologetic. I also don’t want to perpetuate the notion that somehow moving forward in your life is wrong.”
For the cover story’s accompanying photoshoot, Zellweger poses in setups inspired by her backlog of big-screen roles, including Bridget Jones’s Diary, Jerry Maguire and Chicago, among others. In one image, the Oscar winner stands in sneakers and a bralette under a flowing, see-through Dior dress as a nod to her Cold Mountain performance.
Reflecting on her progression as an actress and as a human being, Zellweger said she thought she had life figured out decades ago, but quickly realized she had more to discover and learn from.
“It’s not aging. It’s growing,” she says. “It’s acquisition of the most valuable things: experience and knowledge and grace and insight. … I think I felt like I had it together at 24. I look back and go, ‘Wow.’ I had to recognize that that was naïveté.”
Even now, at 50, Zellweger admits she doesn’t have everything figured out. One thing she is confident about is the strength of her friendships, something she worked on while taking a hiatus from Hollywood prior to signing on for Judy.
“It was nice to have authentic exchanges with people for a while,” she says of her time off. “When you’re not on the radar, people don’t clock who you are; you’re just a person at the coffee shop ordering a coffee. … I just knew that there were certain things I needed to prioritize and if I kept going, there would be just no way I could do it.”
If anything, the star is open to all the possibilities in the years to come.
She says, “I feel energized and full of wonder and excitement about what’s ahead.”
Judy is now in theaters.