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The film, released in 2000, was a commercial success, in which she played a Kansas waitress who suffers a nervous breakdown after witnessing her husband's murder, and starts obsessively pursuing her favorite soap actor.Renée garnered unanimously positive comments from film reviewers.In 2001, Zellweger gained the prized lead role of Bridget Jones, opposite Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, in the British romantic comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Helen Fielding.The choice came amid much controversy since she was neither British nor overweight.However, Janet Maslin of The New York Times, praised her and co-star Mc Conaughey, remarking that both "do show signs of what would soon make them famous. Zellweger, sweet and sprightly and a natural-born ditz, may be the only actress who could point a gun bravely at a killer, then simply shriek and drop it and scamper away".Her next film was Love and a .45 (1994), in which she played the role of Starlene Cheatham, a woman who plans a robbery with her boyfriend.Empire magazine felt Zellweger did a "good work" in her "tricky supporting role", and David Ansen wrote for Newsweek that the actress "has an uncanny ability to make us swallow even the most movie-ish moments".She played the title role in the biopic drama Miss Potter, co-starring Emily Watson and Ewan Mc Gregor.
Her performance as Bridget received praise from critics with Stephen Holden of The New York Times commenting, "Ms.She won the Academy Award, the BAFTA Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for the epic war drama Cold Mountain (2003).She later reprised her title role in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), starred in Cinderella Man (2005), and played author Beatrix Potter in the biopic Miss Potter (2006).She plays a woman who believes in this guy she loves, and reminds us that true love is about idealism." During an interview, Zellweger was reportedly asked the question of why an actress would "bother" working in a "small" film after the blockbuster success of Jerry Mc Guire, to which she responded that "she loved the idea of showing the public a more personal aspect of life" through roles like the one she played in the movie, according to entertainment website Pajiba.Also in 1998, Zellweger portrayed the character of Ellen in One True Thing opposite William Hurt and Meryl Streep.