Same Kind Of Different As Me

Renee Zellweger

It was the inspirational true story that started as a New York Times bestseller and was brought to the big screen last fall. Now Same Kind of Different As Me is available for you to watch right in your own home. Risen talked with Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger about what drew her to the role, her hiatus from acting, and how she shifted priorities to make sure to nurture her personal life.

Interviewed for Risen Magazine in Los Angeles, California

Risen Magazine: What made you interested in being part of this film?
Renee Zellweger: I got a call from the director and he said, “I heard that you loved the story and were inspired by these people’s lives and what they chose to commit themselves to doing. So let me tell you what we’re going to do. We are not going to borrow the town, build a set and then tear it down. We’re actually going to find a mission in Jackson, Mississippi that is unable to properly serve the homes in the community, and we’re going to refurbish it. So that they can take care of those folks in that town.” So that’s what these guys did and they threw film budget money at the place so now there’s a beautiful courtyard they can have gatherings, the outside has been beautified, and they redid the kitchen to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

RM: What character stuck with you most when you read the script?
RZ: Goodness, what to say about the qualities of each of these people. Their courage, their compassion, and their awareness with respect to the impact you can make. The power that you have to make a significant change in other people’s lives if you just make up your mind to do it. And what an honor to play a woman who looks at life this way, and has such a big heart that she’s capable of seeing the value in starting again and second chances.

RM: You took quite some time away from acting, would you share your reasoning behind the absence?
RZ: I just needed to take a moment because the process overlaps [film after film] and it doesn’t stop. And while there’s a lot of joy involved in that experience – especially in the privilege of getting to be a storyteller and do what you love for a living – there’s a lot that gets pushed by the wayside with respect to your personal life. If you’re committed to it, then there are other things you don’t get to engage in and nurture, and those are probably much more important than anything that you might be doing in your professional life. When you do one long enough, the other one tends to kind of disappear a little bit, and then you have no reason to get off the merry-go-round because there’s nothing that you’ve nurtured or built that’s more important than that, and that’s imbalance and it’s not healthy.

RM: So how did you spend your time on the break?
RZ: I needed to take a minute and watch my niece and nephew turn from babies to toddlers to children, and know them. Because they’re going to have the birthday party and understand that you can’t be there because your job won’t let you, because the urgency of filmmaking and the time that it consumes. They understand that you can’t be there, but they’re having the birthday party anyway and then it’s just your loss. And they’re having the barbecue anyway, and your friends get closer and they nurture their relationships and then it’s just your loss. I started to look around, and I didn’t like myself very much. I didn’t like sitting at home after the Golden Globes in the failure of my personal life, by myself. And for what? Why do you have these huge moments where you get to celebrate with nobody. So, I needed to work on that and I needed to learn something. I reached a place in my life where I wasn’t growing anymore. You can’t grow when you’re constantly pretending to be somebody else, as actors we are literally in somebody else’s shoes.

RM: We’re thrilled with your return, but what does that mean for how you approach your work now?
RZ: Oh, now I say no. Now Now I say, “You know what I’d love to do that, but guess what? There’s my mom’s birthday scheduled, and I’m going to have to be in Florida for that week. I’m sorry, but if we could do it another time…” I didn’t do that before.  that before. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to do that before, because it was so important this other thing. Now I know better. I know it is not more important, and I know that it can wait. And if it can’t wait, then I can’t do it. That’s different.

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