Following a six-year hiatus from acting, Renée Zellweger returned to the big screen in 2016 with films like The Whole Truth and Bridget Jones’s Baby. And while we’re pretty pumped for her upcoming Judy Garland biopic, we’re arguably even more excited for the just-announced next phase of her comeback: a TV series.
She has signed on to star in a new drama series from Netflix titled What/If. It will mark Zellweger’s first time on the small screen (other than voice work) since her one-episode stint on Rebel Highway in 1994 — so, essentially, the new gig will be her first major TV role.
In a press release, the streaming giant said that the social thriller “explores the ripple effects of what happens when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things.”
And, happily for Zellweger's fans, Netflix seems to have high hopes for the series. According to the release, each season of What/If — suggesting that there will be more than one — will focus on “a different morality tale inspired by culturally consequential source material, and the power of a single fateful decision to change the trajectory of an entire life.”
Zellweger will star as Anne. The anthology series will also follow broke newlyweds who “weigh a lucrative but ethically dicey offer from a powerful woman,” Vulture reported. It’s unclear at this point whether Zellweger’s Anne is a newlywed or the mysterious woman of power.
Sounds intriguing, no? And doesn’t it also sound a bit familiar? Although What/If will undoubtedly be unique, the new show sounds like a shoo-in for fans of Big Little Lies.
Consider the first season of the HBO series. Each of the series’ leading ladies — Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley) and Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) — deals with the ripple effect caused by acceptable people doing unacceptable things. And the season one series finale was a study in how a single fateful decision might change the trajectory of an entire life… or the trajectories of many lives.
With Academy Award winner Zellweger starring in What/If, it could easily turn into a runaway hit in the vein of Big Little Lies. We already know an audience for this type of drama exists — plus, like Lies' Witherspoon, Kidman and Streep, Zellweger will be bringing one of Hollywood's favorite film stars to the small screen.
Regardless, we know at least one person from Big Little Lies will be cheering for the success of the series: Zellweger’s real-life bestie, Witherspoon. In September 2016, when Zellweger made her big-screen return with Bridget Jones’s Baby, Witherspoon gushed about the film and her friend.
“Always [love] seeing my friend #ReneeZellweger and her return to one of my favorite characters! Bridget Jones’s Baby was so fun. Did y’all see it??” Witherspoon wrote.
But, in addition to having Witherspoon’s likely support, What/If has another ace in the hole with Mike Kelley as the writer/showrunner. The talented writer-producer-director created the cult favorites Revenge, Swingtown and Jericho and served as a writer on such popular series as The O.C. and One Tree Hill.
It’s official — we can’t wait to watch. It’s good to have you back, Zellweger.