Renee Zellweger: ‘Judy Garland didn’t feel like a role’

Renee Zellweger didn’t feel like she was playing a role when she portrayed Judy Garland in the upcoming biopic Judy. In the movie, the Bridget Jones’s Diary star plays the iconic singer/actress during the final months of her life in the late 1960s, whe…

Renee Zellweger didn’t feel like she was playing a role when she portrayed Judy Garland in the upcoming biopic Judy.

In the movie, the Bridget Jones’s Diary star plays the iconic singer/actress during the final months of her life in the late 1960s, when she was hired to do a five-week run of performances at the Talk of the Town nightclub in London while battling alcohol and drug addiction.

At the film’s London premiere on Monday night, Renee told reporters that Garland didn’t feel like just another role to her because she immersed herself so completely in The Wizard of Oz star’s legacy.

“I didn’t feel like a role, it was just an exploration, you know,” she said. “(It was) an immersion into the legacy… that she left for all of us.”

Screenwriter Tom Edge, who adapted the musical stage production End of the Rainbow, studied archival footage of Garland to help write his screenplay and he believes Renee did a “remarkable job” capturing the icon. He also insisted that the 50-year-old deserves the Oscars buzz she’s receiving.

“The nicest thing about this whole process, has been watching the reviews come in for her,” he gushed to Cover Media. “She did so much work understanding her and working incredibly hard to learn Garland inside out and really get to know the heart and soul of her. But the performance she gives isn’t just an imitation of that. It feels to me something a lot deeper, with a lot more rawness to it. It’s kind of the meeting of a great actress with a great icon and I think the fact that she’s had so many plaudits for it is testament that she’s pulled off this little piece of alchemy.”

Judy, which also features Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, and Rufus Sewell, hits U.K. cinemas from 2 October.

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Renee Zellweger had to stand just like Judy Garland for costumes to fit

Renee Zellweger had to master Judy Garland’s posture for new biopic Judy because costume designer Jany Temime’s outfits wouldn’t fit if she stood up straight.Temime had worked with the actress on Bridget Jones’s Diary and kept in contact with her over …

Renee Zellweger had to master Judy Garland’s posture for new biopic Judy because costume designer Jany Temime’s outfits wouldn’t fit if she stood up straight.

Temime had worked with the actress on Bridget Jones’s Diary and kept in contact with her over the years, so she was thrilled when she got the call to dress her for Judy.

And Zellweger was just as excited to reteam with an old pal she knew could help her nail her portrayal of the big-screen icon.

“These costumes were on another level, and to be able to pull out one after the next and with such immaculate construction was amazing,” the 50-year-old shared in the film’s production notes. “Jany also fitted and built the dresses around Judy’s posture, which is a little bit different to mine, the way she carried herself, and so if I stand like I stand, the dresses don’t fit.”

Temime went on to explain that she also dressed Zellweger in outfits she felt the real Garland might have grabbed from film sets.

“I thought to dress her as if with leftovers from the films she did, because I think lots of actresses were taking home what they wore in the films,” the designer commented. “And I added my mum’s Chanel bag and Hermes scarf! Even in normal life, Judy Garland looked ready for any paparazzi.”

But Temime insisted the clothing only did part of the job – the rest was all Zellweger.

“She is such an incredible actress and she does Judy incredibly well. The first shot we had of her singing in her screen test, I was almost crying,” she gushed.

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Judy director Rupert Goold understands Liza Minnelli’s criticism of biopic

Judy director Rupert Goold understands why Liza Minnelli has criticised his movie about her mother Judy Garland.The biopic focuses on the Hollywood icon, played by Renee Zellweger, as she arrives in London in 1968 for a series of sell-out concerts.Last…

Judy director Rupert Goold understands why Liza Minnelli has criticised his movie about her mother Judy Garland.

The biopic focuses on the Hollywood icon, played by Renee Zellweger, as she arrives in London in 1968 for a series of sell-out concerts.

Last year, Minnelli made it clear that she was not on board with the project, which is an adaptation of the Olivier and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play End of the Rainbow.

The 73-year-old said she did “not approve nor sanction” the movie “in any way,” and hoped Hollywood doesn’t do “what they always do”.

As critics heap praise on Zellweger, who has been tipped as the favourite to land an Oscar for her portrayal of the troubled legend, director Goold defended Minnelli’s criticisms, and claimed he understood her concerns.

“I mean, if somebody made a movie about my mum, I would go, ‘That’s not the story I’d tell!’ It’s an invasion of privacy at some level, I suppose. And that’s the complexity of being a child of a star, is it’s somebody you want to own in an intimate personal way, yet is sort of in a gaudy way, like, public property,” he told Entertainment Tonight.

The British filmmaker hopes that once Garland’s eldest daughter sees his movie, her opinion will soften.

“I’ve got a friend, he’s a dancer and backing singer who had worked with Liza, and he said, ‘The thing about Liza is she’s incredibly passionate and emotional but also will really change her view.’ Not that Liza has been hostile to the movie, particularly, but I have every faith that she’ll see it and find it celebratory,” Goold shared.

Judy is now showing in U.S. cinemas.

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Renee Zellweger carefully researched Judy Garland to master biopic role

Renee Zellweger spent a year studying Judy Garland before playing the legendary singer and actress in a new film.The Cold Mountain star is receiving early Oscar buzz for her portrayal of the late star in Judy, and Renee has now insisted her committed r…

Renee Zellweger spent a year studying Judy Garland before playing the legendary singer and actress in a new film.

The Cold Mountain star is receiving early Oscar buzz for her portrayal of the late star in Judy, and Renee has now insisted her committed research had a lot to do with her nailing the role.

“I wanted to look at those in-between moments that seem to get left out when you’re telling the story of a person you think you know,” the actress told WENN. “I had many moments in the car when, for that whole year, Judy was riding shotgun. I listened to her music and her speaking, I researched the stories – the whole thing.

“It was such a process, getting as close as we could to creating a believable likeness without stepping over into something that felt like it was inauthentic.”

She also took regular singing lessons to strengthen her voice, so she could hit Garland’s notes during performance scenes in the film.

“I’ve never been asked to sing several belters in a row, let alone do a live performance anywhere,” the 50-year-old added. “I just figured we’d start a year before and work regularly to see if there was any truth to the saying that you really can strengthen your vocal cords like any other muscle.

“The big thing to remember was that I wasn’t doing an impersonation or trying to emulate this great icon. I started with a voice coach, Eric Vetro, in Los Angeles; he’s an old pal and I love him, so any excuse to stand next to his piano and hang out with his poodle, Belle, is a good one!

“Then I came over to London and I worked with Eric on Facetime and with Mark Meylan at his studio. Mark actually came to set quite a few times to make sure that I didn’t damage myself, because if you could do it to your voice, I did it during this process! There was laryngitis, vocal strain, inflammation, and plain old fatigue.

“Throughout, I continued training with Matt Dunkley, our genius maestro musical director. Those people I worked with took all the fear out of it. I didn’t have time to think about being judged; I just had to hush the critics in my head.”

Meanwhile, Dunkley has credited Zellweger with mastering a completely different vocal style for the role: “She trained with a speaking voice coach to get the sound of Judy’s voice and her pronunciation and she worked with a choreographer to get her mannerisms, but Renee naturally has a higher voice – what we call a head voice – whereas Judy, at this stage of her life, had a very low voice, down in the chest, so we worked with Renee to get her singing in that way. She’s done a remarkable job.”

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Renee Zellweger had to build singing muscles for Judy role

Renee Zellweger had to build up her vocal muscles to be able to play Judy Garland in a new biopic. The Bridget Jones’s Diary star is no stranger to musical roles, having earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of chorus girl Roxie Hart in 2002 mo…

Renee Zellweger had to build up her vocal muscles to be able to play Judy Garland in a new biopic.

The Bridget Jones’s Diary star is no stranger to musical roles, having earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of chorus girl Roxie Hart in 2002 movie Chicago.

However, she could not fall back on her old singing skills when starring in Judy, as she had to work on her vocals to mimic the Wizard of Oz actress’s voice in later life.

“There are identifiable, signature qualities to her (Judy’s) style,” Zellweger told Deadline.com. “So, it was becoming familiar with that. Where (Chicago’s) Roxie (Hart) was kind of bright and light, and singing from the heart, and I guess it was learning the songs and going from there, this was a bit more about building the muscle, which I didn’t think was possible.

“But I’ve since learned that that is a real thing, so I spent a lot of time building the muscle, and we worked on the songs extensively, about the narrative that wanted to be clear, in terms of how the song reflected what she was grappling with in her life, at that period in time. So, it was just a little bit more, I guess, process-intense.”

Judy, which is due for release later this month, tells the story of Garland’s life but centres on her troubled five-week residency at London’s Talk of the Town nightclub, which she completed shortly before her death, aged 47, in 1969.

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Renee Zellweger stayed in character for duration of Judy shoot

Finn Wittrock never met the real Renee Zellweger on the set of Judy because she remained in character for the whole shoot.In Judy, the Bridget Jones’s Diary star plays legendary actress Judy Garland as she arrives in London to perform a sold-out run …

Finn Wittrock never met the real Renee Zellweger on the set of Judy because she remained in character for the whole shoot.

In Judy, the Bridget Jones’s Diary star plays legendary actress Judy Garland as she arrives in London to perform a sold-out run of shows at a nightclub in 1968.

American Horror Story actor Wittrock, who plays Garland’s fifth and last husband Mickey Deans, admitted in an interview with New York magazine that he didn’t meet the real Zellweger until production wrapped.

“We didn’t call her Judy on set or anything, but she was pretty much transformed from the time we were called till we wrapped, so I rarely saw her step out,” Wittrock said. “But it was, like, all the great sides of Judy and none of the diva because she was kind of a social butterfly. The AD (assistant director) would come (to) get her to take her to set, and she would stop five times because she was asking the grip how his dog was. That kind of person.

“She was always in the wig and had a bit of a prosthetic nose and dark contacts. It wasn’t till the wrap party that she came out and she was blonde and wearing a stunning dress, and I was like, ‘Oh, right. That’s the movie star.’”

Meanwhile, director Rupert Goold admitted that the Chicago actress wasn’t the “slam-dunk obvious” choice for the role in terms of appearance but he was taken by how sharp and bright she was in a meeting in London in 2017.

“Yes, she needs to be able to sing, but that wit, that spiky intelligence, is number two. When you watch that old Garland footage from talk-show interviews — she’s brilliant. Just when you think she’s maybe spiralling away, she snaps back — really crisp,” he said.

Judy begins hitting cinemas later this month.

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Renee Zellweger’s prosthetic nose fell off during Judy kissing scenes

Renee Zellweger was left horrified when her prosthetic nose broke off as she kissed co-star Finn Wittrock in the upcoming Judy Garland biopic.The 50-year-old actress relied on prosthetics to make her look as much like the late singer/actress as possibl…

Renee Zellweger was left horrified when her prosthetic nose broke off as she kissed co-star Finn Wittrock in the upcoming Judy Garland biopic.

The 50-year-old actress relied on prosthetics to make her look as much like the late singer/actress as possible for the film, simply titled Judy. But using such special effects had its downside – as Renee found out while shooting a passionate scene alongside Finn, who plays Judy’s fifth husband Mickey Deans.

“I had no idea!” she told Entertainment Tonight, adding that some part of the fake nose’s material or adhesive oozed a milk-like substance when the pair pushed their faces together for the kiss. “I did not know until this kissing scene and I look at him with horror and I realise, ‘Am I more upset that I got that on his face – and we haven’t cut so I can’t be touching his face in a way to try and get it of – or that it’s attached to my head and there’s so much more where that came from?’

“The glue and the thing and the chemicals or something, I don’t know, and some of it would just sneak out the crevice (on the side),” Renee laughed, adding sarcastically: “(Very) glamorous.”

The Oscar-winning actress received a standing ovation from the audience after the film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday night. The Chicago star eventually told the crowd to finish their applause, saying, “OK quit it – you’re messing up my make-up!”

The actress is being tipped for an Oscar nomination for her performance in Judy, which hits cinemas later this month.

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Finn Wittrock and Jessie Buckley join Renee Zellweger in Judy Garland biopic

American Horror Story star Finn Wittrock and Taboo actress Jessie Buckley have been added to the Judy Garland biopic, Judy.It was announced in October that Renee Zellweger would be taking on the role of Wizard of Oz legend Judy in the forthcoming film,…

American Horror Story star Finn Wittrock and Taboo actress Jessie Buckley have been added to the Judy Garland biopic, Judy.

It was announced in October that Renee Zellweger would be taking on the role of Wizard of Oz legend Judy in the forthcoming film, with British stage director and Tony nominee Rupert Goold directing.

Finn, who’s made a name for himself in films like Unbroken and The Big Short, will play Judy’s fifth husband Mickey Deans, to whom the screen and stage star was married when she tragically passed away in 1969 at the age of 47. It was Deans that found her unresponsive in the bathroom of their London home, after Judy, a longtime pill popper, died from an accidental overdose of barbiturates.

Jessie will take on the role of production assistant Rosalyn Wilder.

The film centres on Judy’s run of sell-out shows at London’s The Talk of the Town, now restored to its original Hippodrome name, in 1968.

“Set in winter 1968, the story takes place 30 years after Garland played the iconic role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz,” Deadline reports of the movie’s premise. “When she arrives in Swinging London to prepare for a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town, she battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans. Even her dreams of romance seem undimmed as she embarks on a courtship with Deans. And yet Garland is fragile. After working for 45 of her 47 years, she is exhausted; haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood and gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids.”

The film will feature some of Judy’s most famous songs. Renee previously showed off her own vocal talents in the big screen adaptation of hit Broadway show Chicago, which earned her her second Best Actress Oscars nod in 2003.

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