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With a pair of Academy Awards, you might associate Renée Zellweger more with stretch limousines than clunkers. But the actress shows she can give a jalopy TLC in Discovery+'s "Celebrity IOU: Joyride" (now streaming).
The Texas native got her car smarts from her dad, she shares in the premiere episode of the automotive overhaul show hosted by Cristy Lee and Ant Anstead, Zellweger's new beau.
"It was really important that you keep the pantyhose in the glove compartment in case a belt breaks," says Zellweger, recalling her father's advice. "And you need to know how to change the tire, and you might as well know how to change the CV boots, because why wouldn't you?"
Zellweger is among the stars who gift deserving people in their lives refurbished vehicles in the six-part season (episodes streaming weekly on Mondays). Actors Octavia Spencer, James Marsden and Danny Trejo, Grammy winner Mary J. Blige and skateboarder Tony Hawk also appear in the series, a spin-off of HGTV's home-makeover "Celebrity IOU," hosted by Drew and Jonathan Scott.
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Zellweger and Anstead, who met on the set of "Joyride" earlier t enjoyed some one-on-one time while shooting. With an angle grinder in hand, the actress blasts away rust on a Ford Bronco, one of the cars refurbished for the twin caregivers of her former publicist Nanci Ryder, who died in June 2020 after a battle with ALS. Zellweger also helps replace a cracked panel.
"Oh, my God, you nailed it!" Anstead praises.
Though Zellweger is less impressed with her welding skills – joking she should be fired – Anstead has plenty of sweet words for his temporary assistant, who won Oscars for "Judy" and "Cold Mountain," during the episode.
"We've got a twice Oscar-winner not only crawling on her back underneath a Bronco, she got rust in her face," he marvels. "I'd give her a job."
Anstead also admires Zellweger's ability to keep her private life out of the spotlight, he tells USA TODAY.
"There's a ton of amazing things about Renée, and her private persona is actually really inspiring," he says. "For somebody so high profile, she is incredibly private. And I respect that, and ultimately, from my perspective, the irony of the show being called ‘IOU,’ it's like, ‘Thanks, Discovery.’ It's actually I that owe you. And I can recommend Discovery+ dating service to anybody."
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The star-studded lineup in "Joyride" impressed the hosts.
"Everybody gave their all," Lee says. "They were willing to work. They were willing to learn."
Hawk shocked Lee with his enthusiastic demolition of a Volkswagen bus. "He's a tall guy, so it's him and I inside this bus, just annihilating everything in there," she says. "So Tony really surprised with that, because he just got in there and went full send on it.
Marsden's mopping the garage floor is also a noteworthy moment. "We handed him the mop, jokingly, and he just took it," Lee recalls.
He "was literally mopping the floor, going, 'Oh my God, I'm basically a movie star. I'm here mopping the floor,'" Anstead says. "We're like, 'Get on with it!'"
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But not everyone was a tool turner. Blige "was more of a visionary," Lee says with a laugh. "Mary had a great vision, and we were able to execute that vision for her."
Anstead jokes about not getting along with the singer: "We just clashed a bit, and she didn't do any wrenching."
Like the vehicles on "Joyride," Anstead's personal life has also been renewed. In September 2020, "Flip or Flop" star Christina Haack revealed she and Anstead were separating, a year after the pair welcomed son Hudson London Anstead.
"Anyone who really knows me knows that I don’t like to share private matters publicly," Anstead shared on Instagram at the time of their split. "I have remained silent while holding on to hope. I never gave up on us. I pray Christina’s decision brings her happiness."
Today, he is "in a very, very good place."
"I'm always a person that leans into positivity, and I've got so many things to be positive about," Anstead says. "When you are in a place of purpose, and you're flowing, and things are great, it's really nice to sit back and allow these gifts to happen. And I'm really conscious that I take time to celebrate those moments, and I've had so many moments over the last few months where I sat on my own and thought, 'Wow, I'm really grateful. I am lucky. I'm incredibly lucky.' "
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ant Anstead praises Renée Zellweger's skills on Celebrity IOU: Joyride