Cinderella Man Does Go To The Ball

Renée Zellweger attends the premiere in London

by empire |
Published on

There was not an ugly stepsister in sight this evening as Cinderella Man swept into town tonight, with Ren Zellweger stepping into the glass slippers (Manolos, actually) to dance with the handsome prince (stand beside Ron Howard, actually) and generally charm the cream of the crop (the assembled press, actually). So what was all the fuss about? A boxing movie? Well, so we thought. "No, it's not about boxing," said La Zellweger. "It's about these two people whose life journey came to inspire millions to hope." The inspirational pair were Jim and Mae Braddock, played in the film by Russell Crowe and Zellweger, who became national figures in the US when he became one of the greatest sporting heroes to emerge from the Depression years. "When you read something about this man that just wouldn't quit, despite all the adversity, it makes you think," she adds. "These people lived that life. You don't have to sensationalise that story to make it interesting." So how did she get involved? "Initially it was about the script. I read it in 1997, and I thought it was so beautiful and the story just resonated with me. It was moving – I just thought it was wonderful that somebody wanted to make an old-fashioned movie like this, a human story about a married couple who love each other. Pretty simple, you know?" In fact, Zellweger had expressed her interest even before director Ron Howard came aboard. "Russell brought me the script, and I knew that he wanted to play Braddock," says Howard. "I read it, and thought he'd be incredible. And then I heard that Renée Zellweger wanted to play Mae, and I thought that the combination of those two would be so powerful onscreen, and they'd be so powerful together, that as a director who loves working with great actors, it was easy." Producer Brian Grazer was equally enthused – so much so that his hair was standing on end – hang on, sorry, that's his trademark look. "When he realised that we had such a good working relationship, which was about the middle of the shoot of A Beautiful Mind, he brought it up to Ron and myself, and we fell in love with it. To me, it's just the human dimension, the idea of being able to summon resources inside yourself that you'd think don't exist, and find a way to make them material." And was Russell as prickly as tabloid reports would have it? "I would say that he's a committed man, and I would say that he's uncompromising with his art. But it's a focus, a shared passion that he had with Ron and everyone else on set.I found it inspiring – it takes things to another level. Everyone's quietly excited and ultimately, I think it shows onscreen. I just loved going to work every day. I felt spoilt rotten. I'd look around, and there's Russell, and there's Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. I'd have to pinch myself." Sounds like it was fun all round. But then it was time for Zellweger, who incidentally outed herself as a Chelsea fan at the premiere ("Who's my favourite player? Oh, I can't say! I'm a married woman!"), to head inside along with Howard and Grazer, and introduce the film to the UK. Pictures to follow in the morning.

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