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Renee Zellweger Says ‘Serendipity’ Led to Her Romance With Ant Anstead: ‘We Do Joke About That’

Renee Zellweger Says 'Serendipity' Led to Her Romance With Ant Anstead
Renee Zellweger and Ant Anstead. Earl Gibson III/Shutterstock; Can Nguyen/Shutterstock

A fateful encounter. Renée Zellweger opened up about how she met her boyfriend, Ant Anstead — and explained his connection to one of her friends.

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The Oscar winner, 52, was watching an episode of Celebrity IOU “around” the time her movie Judy debuted, she recalled to Harper’s Bazaar in an interview published on Thursday, March 24. In the HGTV series, brothers Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott help celebs surprise their loved ones with home renovations. The specific episode she watched featured Brad Pitt, who redid his friend’s garage.

After watching the show, the Texas native became interested in filming an episode of her own. Her friend and former publicist Nanci Ryder had died in June 2020, and Zellweger wanted to celebrate the nurses who had cared for Ryder in her final years. Instead of Celebrity IOU, however, she signed on to participate in a spinoff titled Celebrity IOU: Joyride and hosted by Anstead, 42.

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The Cold Mountain actress said the she and her beau now like to think Ryder had a hand in bringing them together. “We do joke about that,” she explained. “She’s always doing her best. It made me smile. It made me smile to think on this, yeah, the serendipity of it all.”

In the episode, which aired in August 2021, the former Wheeler Dealers host helped refurbish a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass for Jerald Cowan, while his twin brother, Jerome Cowan, got a vintage Ford Bronco. Zellweger, as fans now know, left the set with a new flame.

“He’s excited about life and excited in general,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly of Anstead in July 2021, shortly after the U.K. native met Zellweger. “Part of it can be because he’s dating Renée, but he definitely was excited about doing this project and he seems excited to do all the various projects he’s working on.”

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Since their meet-cute over classic cars, the couple have got more serious, spending New Year’s Eve together and hanging out with Anstead’s kids. The mechanic shares daughter Amelie, 18, and son Archie, 15, with Louise Anstead and son Hudson, 2, with ex-wife Christina Haack.

Earlier this year, the For the Love of Cars alum exclusively told Us that he introduced Zellweger to his older children over the phone before they met in person. “They’d had a chance to meet many, many times on FaceTime,” he explained in January. “So it wasn’t a case of, ‘Hey, here’s someone new.’ It was all very organic. … It was really nice. They came for three weeks. We just switched off and made sure we spent time together. It was amazing.”

Though the Bridget Jones’s Diary star and Anstead are enjoying their time together, the reality star added that they’re not yet considering marriage. “Absolutely not,” he told Us. “I mean … what’s the rush?”

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