Renee Zellweger is back and better than ever.

The "Bridget Jones's Baby" star recently sat down with American Way magazine for their September issue and offered a candid insight into her motivation for leaving Hollywood in 2010 and why she chose to return.

"I planned to take some time off after 'Chicago,' but there kept being once-in-a-lifetime experiences in front of me that I didn't want to miss out on," the 47-year-old actress explained of her career in Hollywood. "Then I learned you can't keep doing that forever, so I chose to see what would happen if I did let that once-in-a-lifetime experience that was ahead of me go and just be still and see what I could build."

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The actress revealed that she traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Liberia during her time off to work with a gender-equality charity she's passionate about, noting that being in non-touristy areas was the most eye-opening part of her trip.

"I think traveling off the beaten path is a good idea for anybody because it's essential for understanding not just the rest of the world but yourself," she explained.

Despite broadening her horizons, Zellweger says that Bridget Jones is never far away from her.

"I smile a lot on red carpets in the midst of those moments that hopefully people won't know about," she mused of her connection to the beloved character. "I smile through the Bridget Jones moments. There are a million of them, all day, every day. But, I'm hopelessly hopeful. I'm an optimist. I guess I just believe that you've gotta laugh, have some humor."

So why return to Hollywood?

"I craved the creative process again," she revealed. "When I stopped making films, it was because it became more depleting than rewarding. It was because of the way I was living my life, and I don't think you can be good in a creative medium if you aren't grateful for the opportunity to participate. I started to miss it and I felt ready."

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That feeling made reprising her iconic role for the third "Bridget Jones" film a "no-brainer."

"There's this great reunion waiting in London with this character I love and all my friends who I've adored for years," she said. "It was an excellent excuse to go back."

"Bridget Jones's Baby" hits theaters Sept. 16.