Renée Zellweger Reveals The Sad Story Behind How She Came To Meet Boyfriend Ant Anstead

There is more to the story of Renée Zellweger and Ant Anstead’s meet-cute than we realized — and there’s a surprising amount of sadness in their love story!

When reports broke that the couple became an item over the summer of 2021, everyone was extremely surprised by the random romance between the Oscar winner and the reality star, who met on an episode of his show Celebrity IOU: Joyride. But for the Bridget Jones’s Diary star, the encounter felt almost like fate.

As she recalled in an interview for the April issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Zellweger was watching an episode of Celebrity IOU, in which celebrities work with the Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott to honor someone in their life by renovating the person’s home. She explained:

“It was around Judy. Late night, and I remember I watched the Property Brothers with Brad Pitt.”

It was the honoring of another person that drew her in. This is the really sad part…

At the time, the 52-year-old was still grieving the loss of her longtime friend and publicist Nanci Ryder, who passed away in June 2020 after battling ALS for nearly six years. Renée wanted to show her appreciation for the two nurses — twin brothers Jerome Cowan and Jerald Cowan — who took care of Ryder right before her death. After watching the HGTV show, Zellweger decided to sign up for the spinoff series Celebrity IOU: Joyride to honor the two healthcare workers – which ended up being hosted by Anstead.

Her tribute to her late friend brought her to a new chapter in her life! Amazing!

The rest, as they say, was history. The episode was filming in June 2021. The Cowan brothers received some stunning classic cars — a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass and vintage Bronco — and Renée got a new boyfriend! She and Ant started dating soon after spending some time together while filming the episode. And nearly a year later, the pair are seemingly still going strong, already having made their love Instagram official and attended their first event together.

When asked in the interview if Zellweger believes her pal Nanci might have had something to do with bringing them together, she revealed she absolutely thinks her friend is still helping her out, saying:

“Yeah, we do joke about that. She’s always doing her best. It made me smile. It made me smile to think on this, yeah, the serendipity of it all.”

It is certainly a sad, yet also beautiful story of how their relationship began.

Previously, the Wheeler Dealers alum opened up to People about their chance meeting, expressing gratitude for how the show brought them together:

“Everyone knows that Renee and I are dating. I’m really grateful to the show because these amazing things happen in your world and sometimes when things collide, they collide at the most obscure times when you least expect them. And that’s what happened in this case. I’m grateful for that.”

Now we know what the “when you least expect them” sentiment was all about!

Reactions, Perezcious readers? Do you think it was fate that Renée and Ant met how they did? Let us know! You can also read the entire profile from Harper’s Bazaar HERE.

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