Renee graduated from Katy High School in 1987. She was a cheerleader, gymnast, and participated in the drama club. After high school, she went off to the University of Texas at Austin to major in English. Though she took a drama class only because she needed a fine arts credit to complete her degree, it reminded her of how much she loved acting.
By the time she graduated from college, she knew that she wanted to pursue a carrer in acting. She immediately began auditioning for commercials and small films that were being shot in Texas.
Her role in 1993's Dazed and Confused was her first film role, and was followed by a role in The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While on the set of Chainsaw she heard about the film Love and a .45 which was in the midst of casting for actors. Renee auditioned and won the lead. Thus, a star was born.
Notable roles include those in Nurse Betty (for which she won a Golden Globe Award), Bridget Jones's Diary (Oscar nomination; Golden Globe Award nomination; BAFTA Award nomination), and Chicago (Oscar nomination; BAFTA Award nomination; won, Golden Globe Award).