Renée Zellweger is reflecting on the whirlwind romance she once had with Kenny Chesney.
In a recent interview with The Advocate, the 47-year-old actress opened up about her ex-husband, and the “sad” rumors that swirled around the country star following their split.
Back in 2005, Zellweger cited “fraud” as the reason for their separation, four months after their intimate beachside wedding in the Virgin Islands. Due to the wording in Zellweger’s annulment filing, many speculated that the “Drink It Up” singer may be gay.
“I forgot about that,” Zellweger admitted. “It’s a pretty big thing to forget, isn’t it? That made me sad. It made me sad that somehow people were using that as a way to be cruel and calling someone gay as a pejorative, which has fateful consequences. Of course, there’s the bigger-picture problem of why anyone had to make up a story at all.”
“I’d said all I needed to say on that subject,” she added. “I’m an old-fashioned gal who doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to hang out your laundry on the lawn. I feel you devalue yourself as a human being when you share very personal things with a bajillion strangers who are making fun of you. I just don’t see that there’s any dignity in that.”
“But sometimes it is difficult to just let something be what it is, especially when it’s unnecessary ugliness,” she continued. “Once you’ve said your piece, shouldn’t that be enough? And why is the ugliness that’s perpetuated in the media so attractive to people?”
Two years after their breakup, Chesney denied the rumors himself in an interview with 60 Minutes, telling Anderson Cooper, “It’s not true. Period.”
“Maybe I should have come out and said, ‘No, I’m not [gay],’ but I didn’t want to draw any more attention to it,” he said at the time. “I didn’t have to prove to anybody that I wasn’t [gay]. I didn’t feel like I really did.”
Now, more than a decade later, Zellweger is able to laugh about the situation, sharing a funny story with The Advocate about once getting snapped on the beach with one of her gay confidants.
“The majority of my closest friends are gay, and I have my pearl. I went to Miami for New Year’s Eve some years back with him and his boyfriend, and we got paparazzied on the beach,” she explained. “We had a very Bridget Jones moment – he had no desire to be photographed in his trunks, so he told me, 'You need to get out of here and go for a run right now!’ Some tabloid ran the photos and wrote, 'Has Renée finally found her pearl?’ I was like, 'Aww, he’s my pearl!’ He’s family to me. We dated for a minute, actually.”
The reporter then jokingly asked if she knew “he was gay,” in which she responded, “No, I knew he was gay – or had been gay. But he wasn’t gay that day!”
Zellweger also opened up about returning to the big screen to reprise her role as the beloved Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Baby, the franchise’s third installment, after a very much-needed hiatus.
“I really wanted to play Bridget again because I love her and it sounded fun,” she said. “It was very selfishly motivated. It had very little to do with anything else, like carrying on the legacy of a beautiful character that so many people relate to.”
The Texas native explained that the break was less of “a vacation,” and more of a “necessary reset.”
“I needed to step away for a second so that I could see what life looks like at this stage,” she dished. “I know it sounds like I was on a beach somewhere – and yeah, there was some of that – but I was mostly figuring out how I could fill my days, what I wanted to learn next and how to grow as a person.”
Last month, ET caught up with Zellweger, where she explained how she’s gearing up to play a first-time mother in Bridget Jones’s Baby, which hits theaters Sept. 16. Watch the video below to hear more.