Renée Zellweger once waited for 4 hours to meet Jimmy Carter

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Former President Jimmy Carter has quite the admirer in actress Renée Zellweger. She once stood in line for four hours at one of his book signings for the chance to shake his hand. The line at the Manhattan Barnes & Noble snaked through the store and around the block, but there was no way she was missing the chance to meet her hero.

Once it was finally her turn, the star of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and its successors, “Chicago,” “Coal Mountain” and of course “Jerry Maguire” couldn’t quite find the right words.

“He looked up and said, ‘hello.’ I said, ‘Hi!'” she said, still giddy from the encounter years later.

Zellweger is in Atlanta today attending “Carry the Torch,” a luncheon fundraiser that seeks to raise $1 million for area organizations that serve Atlanta’s homeless community and promotes the film adaptation of “Same Kind of Different as Me,” in theaters now. Here is a link to see local listings.

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The 2006 book by Ron Hall tells the true story of how Hall, who was a successful art dealer, and his wife Deborah, were changed forever through their friendship with a resident of the streets of Fort Worth. The ministry that sprung from their relationship outlived Deborah, who died of cancer.

Zellweger plays Deborah Hall, an experience she described as an honor and a humbling challenge. Greg Kinnear plays Ron Hall and Jon Voight plays his dad, Earl Hall.

Voight also traveled to Atlanta today. Both he and Zellweger said it’s been rewarding to work on the uplifting, faith-based film especially at a time when the headlines out of Hollywood have been dominated by allegations of harassment, assault and lewd behavior.

The event is happening downtown, at the Georgia World Congress Center – not far from the Carter Center.

“I was hoping we’d have an opportunity to drive by,” Zellweger said.

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