Renee Zellweger has recalled the “painful” moment she overheard strangers talking about her changing appearance.

The Hollywood actress, 50, who stars as Judy Garland in a new film, sparked widespread speculation about her looks in 2014.

Zellweger told US radio station SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle she “was on the subway in London” when she overheard other passengers talking about her.

“They were talking about… how Hollywood ladies are so silly, and especially that Renee Zellweger,” the Oscar-winner said.

“And, ‘How could she do that? Why would she go and have surgery on her face like we wouldn’t know?’

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting’. Anyway, here’s my stop.”

Zellweger said the man was “still talking about how stupid I am” when she got up just before her stop and he looked up and recognised her.

“He said, ‘Oh God, you’re not, you are! But you look just like yourself!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s funny how that works, isn’t it?'”

Renee Zellweger in character as Judy Garland in a new biopic
Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in a new biopic (Pathe UK/PA)

The former Bridget Jones actress said experiences such as this one were “momentarily… pretty painful”.

She has previously said she had not altered her face or had surgery, “not that it’s anyone’s business”.

The star took the unusual step of issuing a statement about her changing looks in 2014, saying she was “living a different, happy, more fulfilling life”.