Renée Zellweger

Zellweger in 2008, Featureflash /

Birth Name: Renée Kathleen Zellweger

Place of Birth: Katy, Harris, Texas, U.S.

Date of Birth: April 25, 1969

*father – Swiss
*mother – Norwegian, as well as Finnish/Kven, Swedish, Tornedalian, remote Danish, German, and Scottish

Renée Zellweger is an American actress and producer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain (2003), and the Academy Award for Best Actress for Judy (2019). Her roles also include Chicago, Jerry Maguire, One True Thing, Nurse Betty, Bridget Jones’s Diary and its sequels, Cinderella Man, Appaloosa, What/If, Miss Potter, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

Renée’s father, Emil Erich Zellweger, was born in Au, a town in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and has Swiss-German ancestry. He is said to descend from an Appenzell noble family. Renée’s mother, Kjellfrid Irene (Andreassen), was born in Norway, of Norwegian, as well as Finnish/Kven, Swedish, Tornedalian, and remote Danish, German, and Scottish, ancestry. She grew up in Ekkerøy near Vadsø, and in Kirkenes, and came to the U.S. to work for a Norwegian family.

Some of Renée’s mother’s ancestors were from Sodankylä in northern Finland. During the 19th century, many Finns emigrated to Finnmark, in northern Norway; they are known as Kven, and both of Renée’s maternal grandparents were of part Kven descent.

Several internet sources state that Renée has Sami ancestry. It is not clear if this ancestry has been verified/documented. None of Renée’s recent or relatively recent ancestors are listed as Sami on Norwegian census records. Sami are Indigenous people who inhabit Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

Renée’s paternal grandfather may have been named Emil Zellweger.

Renée’s paternal grandmother may have been named Dorothy.

Renée’s maternal grandfather was Ove Magnar Ingolf Andreassen (the son of Johan Edvard/Edvart Charles Andreassen and Emma Ovidia/Ovidie Hansen). Ove was born in Ekkerøy, Finnmark, Norway. Johan was the son of Oluf Martin/Marthin/Moll-oluf Andreassen and Fredrikke Mathilde Strand. Emma was the daughter of Oluf Bernhof/Bernhoft Hansen/Hanssen and Ingeborg Marta/Marthe Eriksdatter Jørstad.

Renée’s maternal grandmother was Bjørga Johanna/Johanne Hildonen (the daughter of Isak Wilhelm Johansen Hildonen and Kathrine Jensdatter Hedlund). Bjørga was born in Tana, Norway. Isak was the son of Johan Daniel/Danielpoika/Danielsen/Danielinpoika Hiltuen/Hiltunen/Hildonen, who was born in Kairala, Pelkosenniemi, Finland, and of Johanne Kathrine Johannestyttär/Johansdatter Kylmänen/Kullmann, who was born in Kvalsund, Finnmark, Norway, and had Finnish and Tornedalian ancestry. Renée’s great-grandmother Kathrine was born in Vefsn, Norway, the daughter of Swedish parents, Jens Paulsen Hedlund, from Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Brita Isaksdatter Bergstrøm, from Åre, Jämtland.

Sources: Genealogy of Renée Zellweger –

Genealogy of Renée Zellweger (focusing on her mother’s side) –

Genealogy of Renée’s maternal grandfather, Ove Magnar Ingolf Andreassen –

Renée’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Oluf Martin/Marthin/Moll-oluf Andreassen and Fredrikke Mathilde Strand, on the 1891 Norway Census –

Renée’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Oluf Bernhof/Bernhoft Hansen/Hanssen and Ingeborg Marta/Marthe Eriksdatter Jørstad, on the 1891 Norway Census –

Renée’s maternal great-grandfather, Isak Wilhelm Johansen Hildonen, on the 1900 Norway Census –

Renée’s maternal great-grandmother, Kathrine Jensdatter Hedlund, on the 1891 Norway Census –


Curious about ethnicity

43 Responses

  1. jonasbttencourt says:

    She was so cute when she was young, great actress, very carismatic. She surely looks like a typical scandinavian person with sami admixture, by the way. But of course, this does not mean she’s any less european or white lol the sami peoples are pretty much an indigenous european population.

  2. madman says:

    I’ve looked through Norwegian census records to see if anyone was listed as Sami.

    Her maternal grandfather’s grandparents are all listed as Norwegian:

    Her maternal grandmother’s father and his parents, Finnish:

    *Johanne’s father was from Finland and her mother was from Sweden and was Tornedalien (ethnic minority in Sweden closely related to Finnish people) since she and all her ancestors lived along the Torne River and all had Finnish surnames.

    Her maternal grandmother (no ethnicity listed because Swedish wasn’t an option):

    If Renée has Sami ancestry, it’s at least not at all recent.

    • Oaken05 says:

      Tornedalians aren’t just related to Finns, they are literally descendants of Finns who live in the Torne Valley.

      • madman says:

        Their language, Meänkieli, is considered its own language in Sweden and is recognized as one of five minority languages. I don’t know why you didn’t think it made sense to write “related to” when they are recognized as a distinct ethnicity.

    • madman says:

      Now it says that Renée’s great-grandmother Kathrine Hedlund’s parents were Tornedalian, which isn’t true; they were Swedish. I thought I made it clear that it was Renée’s great-great-grandmother Johanne’s mother who was Tornedalian.

  3. Oaken05 says:

    I am embarrassed that I’m just now learning tonight from her speech and then coming here that her parents were immigrants.

  4. andrew says:

    her paternal grandmother was named Dorothy “Minnie” Preisig.

  5. andrew says:

    She does not have German ancestry (from Germany) whatsoever

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