How Renee Zellweger Defended Ex-Husband Kenny Chesney Amid Their Marriage Annulment

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Many Renée Zellweger fans may have forgotten that the Bridget Jones star got married for a hot minute.


In the case of Zellweger, the expression “hot minute” translates to 255 days. That’s how long her 2005 marriage to country singer Kenny Chesney lasted before she filed for annulment, citing “fraud” as the reason.

To some, the “fraud” sounded like code for Chesney being gay. Speculation about Chesney’s sexuality began when news broke, prompting the Oscar-winning actress to stand up for her ex and the LGBTQ+ community.

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Renée Zellweger has filed for annulment of her marriage to Kenny Chesney

The couple remained together as husband and wife for less than a year before Zellweger filed for annulment.

After the cancellation became public, Zellweger felt the need to issue a statement explaining what exactly “fraud” meant in order to stop people gossiping about Chesney.

In her statement, the actress wanted to “clarify that the term ‘fraud’ as listed in the documentation is merely legal language and not a reflection of Kenny’s character.”

She added: “I would personally greatly appreciate your support in refraining from drawing derogatory, hurtful, sensationalist or false conclusions and would greatly appreciate your understanding that we hope to experience this transition as privately as possible.”

Related: The Real Reason Renee Zellweger Was Missing for Six Years

The couple also released a joint statement through their reps to shed some light on the annulment, writing, “Miscommunication of the purpose of their marriage at the outset is the sole reason for this annulment. Renée and Kenny loves and respects each other and is saddened that their different goals are preventing this marriage from succeeding.”

What Renée Zellweger said about Chesney’s sexuality

Years later, Zellweger revisited the issue in an interview with The Advocate at a time when she was promoting her movie Judy, playing actress, singer, and LGBTQ+ icon Judy Garland.

Asked how she felt when people thought Chesney was gay when she asked for the marriage to be annulled, she replied, “It made me sad.”

“It made me sad that somehow people are using this as a way to be cruel and to call someone gay as a pejorative, which has fatal consequences. Of course, there’s the bigger issue of why someone had to make up a story.”

She declined to dwell on this private incident from years prior, saying, “Well, I had said everything I had to say on this subject.”

“I’m an old-school girl who doesn’t think it’s appropriate to hang your laundry out on the lawn. I feel like you devalue yourself as a human being when you share very personal things with a million strangers laughing at you I just don’t see any dignity in that.

Related: Before She Won an Oscar, Renee Zellweger Was an Extra in This Classic Film

“But sometimes it’s hard to let something be what it is, especially when it’s unnecessary ugliness. Once you’ve said your article, shouldn’t that be enough? And why the ugliness that is perpetuates in the media so appealing to people?”

Kenny Chesney has finally explained what happened in his marriage to Renée Zellweger

For his part, Chesney got defensive when addressing the rumor in an interview with Playboy.

“I think people need to live their lives the way they want, but I’m pretty confident that I like girls. I have a long line of girls who could testify that i’m not gay“, he said in 2009.

“For us to get an annulment, the legal documents could either claim physical abuse, which wasn’t true, or three or four other things that weren’t true either. The best thing we could put there -in it was fraud. So I said, “Okay, do it. Never mind,'” he added, explaining why the former couple opted for “fraud” as their reason to call off their union.

The following year, the musician opened up to Oprah Winfrey about the real reason the marriage didn’t last very long and why Zellweger ultimately filed for annulment.

“I think of my life as a box. … So everything I put in there – learn to play the guitar, put that in the box. The friends I made. I put that in the box, and my career has grown. This box has built has grown into this wonderful house… And you protect everything and all the relationships and all the people who helped you build this house,” he began, adding that the marriage wasn’t exactly part of the plan for him.

It was out of the box“, he said, adding: “[Renée’s] a sweet soul, no doubt, but I just wasn’t ready…. It’s the first time I’ve spoken about it, but that’s what happened.”

How did Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney meet?

The relationship between the actress and the singer took almost everyone by surprise. They met in January 2005 during NBC’s “Concert of Hope” tsunami relief telethon. Zellweger had hoped to meet him and have a word with him at the event. With a little help from their respective publicists, Renee’s intentions were made clear.

“When the show ended, [Chesney] exceeded [to Zellweger] and said, ‘I heard you were trying to get a word to me – don’t let the principal find out,'” a friend of the actress told People.

Apparently, the crush was mutual as Chesney named Zellweger one of the three sexiest people alive in 2002.

“Here’s a country girl who’s always down to earth. You never see her coming, so—wham!—there she is. And that makes her really, really hot,” he said in an interview with The Tennessean. “Plus, she seems like the kind of girl who could fit in and be at home anywhere.”

Although they went there with the best and sweetest intentions, it just wasn’t meant to be for them.

Related: Inside Jim Carrey’s Relationship With ‘Last Great Love’ Renee Zellweger

After her relationship with Chesney, Zellweger dated Bradley Cooper and musician Doyle Bramhall II. She is currently in a relationship with British presenter Ant Anstead. As for Chesney, the country singer has been in a relationship with Mary Nolan since 2012.

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