Skip to main content

13 Going on 30 might have flopped in the box office at the time of its release, but the film has since aged well. The movie ranks highly among many coming-of-age teen shows, and its cast ensemble held the show up in quality fashion.

Actors Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner had excellent chemistry onscreen and delivered outstanding performances with their characters, which is why it’s almost impossible to picture anybody else playing the leads. However, had things gone according to plan, Renée Zellweger would have played the lead role on 13 Going on 30.

Renée Zellweger was up for the role of Jenna in ’13 Going on 30,’ but lost it to Garner

Renée Zellweger
Renée Zellweger at Westwood Village Theatre. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Zellweger’s acting career began with small, low-budget films such as A Taste for Killing and Reality Bites. The star’s first prominent role was in the 1994 horror flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Although the film received mixed reviews, critics lauded Zellweger’s performance calling her a “formidable scream queen.”

She then appeared in several films, including Love and a .45 and Empire Records, before landing a part in the 1996 hit movie Jerry Maguire alongside Tom Cruise. Jerry Maguire was a box office hit and earned Zellweger international recognition and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.

In 2000, Zellweger’s career started looking up with her appearance in Me Myself & Irene alongside Jim Carrey. Later that year, she starred alongside Morgan Freeman in Nurse Betty. In 2001, the actor landed the titular role on Bridget Jones’ Diary alongside Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Her casting brought about some controversy, with many questioning the decision because Zellweger was neither British nor overweight.

Zellweger fully committed to the role by gaining 20 pounds, smoking herbal cigarettes, and learning to speak in an English accent. Her performance earned her critical acclaim, and the movie became a classic romantic comedy and a commercial success.

Given her success in films at the time, the producers of 13 Going on 30 considered Zellweger for the role of Jenna Rink. But as BuzzFeed reports, they decided against it, choosing Garner after seeing her Golden Globes acceptance speech for her role in Alias.

What did Zellweger do around that time?

13 Going on 30 was filmed in 2004. Around this time, Zellweger had her plate full with several projects. She lent her voice to Shark Tale, a DreamWorks animation film, and reprised her eponymous role in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. The following year, Zellweger appeared in Cinderella Man alongside Russell Crowe.

In 2006, Zellweger played celebrated author Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter, working again with her Down with Love costar Ewan McGregor. Her performance in the biographical comedy earned her a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress-Musical or Comedy.

In 2007, the star voiced a character in Bee Movie, earning a Women in Film Crystal award for the role. The following year, Zellweger suffered a career setback as she starred in several low-earning movies, including Leatherheads, Appaloosa, New In Town, and Case 39, which all flopped. After starring in My Own Love Song, the star decided to take a hiatus that lasted six years, saying, “I was fatigued and wasn’t taking the time I needed to recover between projects, and it caught up with me.”

She has since found success in screen acting

After taking some much-needed time off, Zellweger returned with another Bridget Jones movie highlighting the title character’s adult life. The movie Bridget Jones’ Baby was a commercial success and received critical acclaim.

The star’s first significant TV role was in Netflix’s What/If. She followed it up with the biographical drama piece Judy playing actor Judy Garland. Zellweger earned a Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Academy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of the legendary actor.