It was one of the most notable whirlwind romances in country music history. Known for her role in Bridget Jones’s Diary, actress Renée Zellweger met country star Kenny Chesney at a tsunami relief event in January 2005. They married four months later on May 9 in an intimate ceremony on the beach in the Virgin Islands.
But before the couple even got out of the “honeymoon phase,” they went their seperate ways. On September 15, only four months after they said “I do,” Chesney and Zellweger announced their plans to obtain an annulment, which was finalized a few months later.
Many speculated as to what could have occurred that caused Chesney and Zellweger to call it quits so soon. Once the media got their hands on the papers relating to the annulment, they caught the fact that Zellweger listed “fraud” as the reason for wanting to split from Chesney. After this news hit, the rumors started to fly as to what kind of “fraud” Chesney could have committed.
Some outlets jumped to conclusions when they saw “fraud” on the papers, and came to the assumption that Zellweger split from Chesney because he was secretly gay. Chesney has adamantly denied these rumors, particularly during an interview with 60 Minutes that took place two years after his split from Zellweger. “The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like…that I really understood what it was like to be married, and I really didn’t,” he said.
But for all these years, Zellweger has remained silent about the rumors, other than stating the term fraud was “simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny’s character.” Now, 11 years after they announced their plans to end their marriage, Zellweger has finally opened up about those rumors in hopes of setting the record straight once and for all.
During a tell-all interview with Advocate, Zellweger spoke about her romance with Chesney, and how hurt she was when she saw all of the rumors popping up about him.
“That made me sad,” she said. “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,” she said.
When asked why she never really opened up about the split before or why she never spoke in Chesney’s defense, Zellweger said she didn’t think it was appropriate for her to share such personal details of their lives with the public:
“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. 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?”
Chesney and Zellweger have both moved on with their lives since their whirlwind romance came to an end 11 years ago. Zellweger is currently promoting the latest installment in the Bridget Jones series, while Chesney spent the summer touring across the country on his Spread the Love Tour. He also just released a new duet with pop singer P!nk called “Setting the World On Fire,” which you can listen to below.
What do you think of what Zellweger had to say? Did any of her statements surprise you?