Country music star Kenny Chesney and Academy Award-winning actress Renée Zellweger shocked fans when they married in May of 2005 on St. John in the Virgin Islands after a whirlwind romance. The East Tennessee-native singer and the Texas-raised actor made an adorable couple, but they had only been dating a matter of months when they tied the knot.
Chesney and Kellweger first met in January of 2005 at NBC's Concert of Hope, a tsunami relief event. Zellweger had recently split with rocker Jack White and, according to People, the Chicago and Judy star planned to pass the country singer a note at the telethon. But, as luck would have it, their publicists met backstage and the Hollywood superstar's interest in the No Shoes Nation's leader was made clear.
It turns out that Zellweger was also Chesney's celebrity crush. In 2002, he told The Tennesseean his "three sexiest people" were Charlize Theron, Janet Jackson and Zellweger.
"Here's a country girl who's still down to earth," the "All I Need to Know" and "Me and You" singer told the paper in reference to Zellweger. "You never see her coming", then--wham!--there she is. And that makes her really, really sexy. Plus she seems like the kind of girl who could fit in and be at home anywhere."
Zellweger also inspired Chesney's No. 1 1999 hit "You Had Me From Hello," which Chesney penned with Skip Ewing after watching the film Jerry Maguire. In the movie, Zellweger's character Dorothy Boyd tells Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), during a romantic speech, "You had me at hello."
The song was recorded for Chesney's 1999 album Everywhere We Go.
It was the first marriage for both and the pair seemed to have found their soulmates.
"I may well be the luckiest man alive," Chesney said in a statement. "To be so in love with someone who is so perfect for me--it's just hard to imagine that I'm not going to wake up."
However, just four months later, Chesney and Zellweger had the marriage annulled. In documents filed by Zellweger, "fraud" was listed as the reason.
Zellweger was clear that the term "fraud" wasn't a reflection on Chesney. The Bridget Jones's Diary star released a statement to "clarify that the term 'fraud' as listed in the documentation is simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character."
In a joint statement, Chesney and Zellweger said "the miscommunication of the objective of their marriage at the start is the only reason for this annulment. Renée and Kenny value and respect each other and are saddened that their different objectives prevent the success of this marriage."
Nevertheless, the annulment led some to speculate about Chesney's sexual orientation.
During an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, Chesney denied that he's gay.
"I didn't want to draw any more attention to it because I knew I wasn't. I didn't have to prove to anybody that I wasn't," Chesney said.
The country star said he simply wasn't ready to be married.
"The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like -- that I really understood what it was like to be married and I really didn't."
During an interview with The Advocate, Zellweger addressed the rumors.
"It made me sad that somehow people were using that as a way to be cruel and calling someone gay as a pejorative, which has fateful consequences. Of course, there's the bigger-picture problem of why anyone had to make up a story at all," the Oscar-winning actor said.
Since their divorce, Zellweger has been linked to Bradley Cooper and musician Doyle Bramhall II. Chesney is rumored to have dated Amy Colley, who was Miss Tennessee 2005, and ESPN broadcaster Jenn Brown. Though the country star keeps his personal life private, he's most recently been linked to longtime girlfriend Mary Nolan.
This story previously ran on Nov. 6, 2020.