While focusing primarily on the late "fading star" phase of Judy Garland's career, as the hard-up-for-cash showbiz legend reluctantly takes an extended gig in London, the new biopic Judy intermittently flashes back to formative moments in her life that shaped a successful yet still deeply tragic life and career.
In those scenes, we witness the young ingénue Garland (Darci Shaw) behind the scenes of her star-making film and future classic The Wiazard of Oz (1939), where the powers that be at the movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) carefully monitored her weight, set up a fake date with Mickey Rooney and fed her drugs (stimulants to stay awake, sleeping pills to rest) to remain on a rigorous shooting schedule. Garland's ensuing barbiturates and amphetamines addictions would plague her for the rest of her life.
"I think it was a different time when Judy entered the system," Renée Zellweger, who's earning Oscar buzz for playing middle-aged Garland in the film, tells Yahoo Entertainment when asked what the film says about the perils and pratfalls of a life in the entertainment business (watch above). "And it was a system, where they sort of create your persona, turn you into a star."
Still, certain moments from the film echo the all-too-recent past, like one suggestive sequence in which MGM's head honcho Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) scolds Young Judy and then places his hand just above her bosom — a scene that gives off Weinsteinian chills.
"I think everything that we went with it, which we have a better understanding of now, which would be to a young person's detriment, they understand better today," Zellweger continues. "Certain things about the pressures, and the self-imposed pressures and all of that, are probably similar to some degree.
"Unfortunately, I didn’t think there was ever an understanding about how dangerous some of the things that were introduced to her [were]."
Her co-star Finn Wittrock, who plays Garland's fifth and final husband Mickey Deans, agrees.
"I think it's a portrayal of the studio system, which we don't have anymore, technically," he says. "But I think it's also talking about the dangers of using our children as entertainment. She was an incredible performer from birth, but she was also kind of part of the studio machine and was given a very unhealthy lifestyle.
"She was taken out of school and was given classes to sing and dance, then was given uppers and downers to keep her going. I think it's [about] how we treat our kids, at heart."
Watch Renée Zellwger talk about capturing the essence of Judy Garland:
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:
The It List: Kanye West (possibly) drops 'Jesus Is King' album, Demi Moore releases bombshell memoir, Ryan Murphy's first Netflix show premieres and the best in pop culture the week of September 23, 2019