LOS ANGELES - Renee Zellweger hit back at the online furore triggered by her new-look face, saying she was simply older and happier.  The 45-year-old Oscar-winner, whose first film in five years is out next year, told People magazine she had not been ‘taking care of myself’ and was exhausted, but is now back to health. ‘I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,’ Zellweger said, calling the storm about her appearance ‘silly.

‘It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door,’ the ‘Bridget Jones’ star told People as she explained her decision to speak out.  Zellweger sparked a global firestorm of online comment after she appeared at a Hollywood women’s awards show Monday. Her face appeared radically different, fueling talk that she had had plastic surgery.  The star, who shot to fame in 2001’s ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ and 2004 sequel ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,’ won a best supporting actress Oscar for 2003’s ‘Cold Mountain’ and has three Golden Globes to her name.

 But she has not appeared in a new film since 2010’s ‘My Own Love Song.’ Her latest movie, ‘The Whole Truth,’ is due out next year. Zellweger told People: ‘My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy.’

‘For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself, she said. ‘Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.’