Surgical touch-ups have become as common as visits to tanning salons. This or that actor having had a little “work” done is certainly nothing to write home about. But a year and a half ago Renee Zellweger‘s appearance sparked unusual interest. The before-and-after photos indicated that the “work” had violated the general rule, which is to make sure the changes are difficult to spot or at least not glaringly noticable.
Three days ago a piece by Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman noted that in a trailer for the forthcoming Bridget Jones’ Baby (Universal/Miramax, 9.16.16), Zellweger’s features seemed markedly different compared to how she looked in Bridget Jones Diary (’01). I agree — Zellweger looks good today but somehow upgraded. She could be the slightly tonier twin sister of the woman she played in Jerry Maguire.
“Watching the trailer, I didn’t stare at the actress and think: She doesn’t look like Renée Zellweger,” Gleiberman wrote. “I thought: She doesn’t look like Bridget Jones! Oddly, that made it matter more. Celebrities have the right to look however they want, but the characters they play become part of us. I suddenly felt like something had been taken away.”
Soon after Gleiberman’s piece was accused of being sexist by Rose McGowan, Christina Applegate and other online voices. I’m still trying to figure out what the beef is. The McGowan-Applegate rule seems to be that (a) if someone has had work done, you can’t mention it, and (b) if you do you’re a sexist asshole. But Owen’s point wasn’t that Zellweger had gone under the knife, but that she’d apparently tried to change herself. She was a somewhat idiosyncratic-looking person in the ’90s and early aughts, but then she went to a surgeon and said “I want to look less idiosyncratic, and more like a fashion model.”
My view is that Owen was saying that the work wasn’t subtle enough. I think that’s a reasonable thing to observe. You can have all the work done that you want, but you can’t allow it to become a topic of conversation.
Imagine if Harrison Ford decided to recreate himself along the lines of what Michael Cimino had done in the ’90s. Playing Indiana Jones again would be difficult under this circumstance. If Gleiberman had taken note of Ford’s appearance and asked “hold on, what’s happened to good old Indiana?”, would McGowan-Applegate be screaming about how unfair Owen was being? I somehow doubt it.