The real reason Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney divorced

Renée Zellweger has spent nearly three decades in Hollywood, garnering attention both on-screen and off. From her rumored engagement to comedian Jim Carrey to her seven-year relationship with musician Doyle Bramhall II, much of Zellweger's private life has been subject to public scrutiny. However, in the midst of her numerous high-profile relationships, many might've forgotten that, for a short while in 2005, Zellweger was married to country music star Kenny Chesney.

According to an unnamed source, Zellweger and Chesney met in January 2005 at NBC's "Concert of Hope" tsunami aid telethon. Zellweger's friends said the Oscar-winning actress had hoped to meet Chesney and planned to "pass him a note" during the event. Before she could, however, the actor and singer's publicists began talking about Zellweger's intentions. "When the broadcast wrapped, [Chesney] went over [to Zellweger] and said, 'I hear you are trying to pass me a note — don't let the principal find out,'" her friend explained.

Less than four months after their initial meeting, Zellweger and Chesney wed in an intimate — albeit unexpected — ceremony in the Virgin Islands. But what made their relationship go south so soon after returning to the north?

Zellweger cited 'fraud' as the reason for their annulment

After only four months of marriage, the Jerry Maguire actress filed to annul her marriage to Chesney, citing "fraud" as the reason for dissolving their brief union. Once the press got hold of this news, said accusations of fraud ignited rumors that the singer might be gay.

In response to this intense scrutiny, Zellweger inevitably released a statement to clarify her reasons, stating that "the term 'fraud' as listed in the documentation is simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character. I would personally be very grateful for your support in refraining from drawing derogatory, hurtful, sensationalized or untrue conclusions and greatly appreciate your understanding that we hope to experience this transition as privately as possible."

Zellweger and Chesney later released an additional joint statement, further emphasizing that "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."

Chesney opened up to Playboy and Oprah about the rumors

Obviously frustrated by the media's reports about the annulment, Chesney spoke to Playboy in 2009. "That is the most unbelievable thing in the world ... What guy who loves girls wouldn't be angry about that s**t? I didn't sign up for that. I think people need to live their lives the way they want to, but I'm pretty confident in the fact that I love girls," Chesney said, the reporter noting his laughter. "I've got a long line of girls who could testify that I am not gay."

He went on to explain, "In order for us to get an annulment, the legal papers could claim either physical abuse, which wasn't true, or three or four other things that also weren't true. The best thing we could put in there was fraud. So I said, 'All right, do it. Whatever.'"

In 2010, Chesney told Oprah Winfrey that, ultimately, he panicked. "I look at my life as a box," he explained. "So everything that I put in — learn how to play guitar, put that in the box. The friends I made. I put that in the box, and my career grew. That box I built grew into this wonderful house ... and you protect everything and all the relationships and all the people that helped you build that house."

But, when it came to his marriage, Chesney admitted "it was out of the box." He added, "[Renée's] a sweet soul, no doubt about it, but I just wasn't ready ... This is the first time I've actually talked about it, but that's what happened."

Zellweger continues to defend her ex-husband whenever the subject arises

In the years since their annulment, Zellweger has continued to defend Chesney whenever the subject come up. During an interview in 2016, while doing press for Bridget Jones's Baby, a reporter for the Advocate broached the topic, to which Zellweger replied, "I forgot about that. It's a pretty big thing to forget, isn't it? That made me sad."

She added, "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." Zellweger referred to herself as "an old-fashioned gal who doesn't feel it's appropriate to hang out your laundry on the lawn," going on to ask, "Once you've said your piece, shouldn't that be enough? And why is the ugliness that's perpetuated in the media so attractive to people?"