Renée Zellweger is uncanny as Judy Garland in first look at biopic Judy

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Judy Garland pictured in 1963, and the first look at Renée Zellweger as the Wizard of Oz star in Judy. (United Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

The first image of Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland has been released from new biopic Judy, and we’re already asking: could this be the role that marks the start of a Renéessaince?

Pathé and BBC Films released the picture of the Bridget Jones’ Diary star in character as the Hollywood icon to announce the first day of principal photography on the upcoming historical drama that focusses on the final years of Garland’s life.

Zellweger won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2004 for Cold Mountain, but she recently took a break from acting, returning to the big screen in Bridget Jones’ Baby after a 6-year screen hiatus.

Playing the iconic musical star in the twilight of her career sounds like the role of a lifetime for the 48-year-old Texan, who is now roughly the same age as Garland was when she died in 1969.

(BBC Pictures, Pathe)

Could she follow in her Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation co-star Matthew McConaughey’s footsteps and pull off a mid-career comeback? It’s a bit early to tell, but it certainly seems possible.

Here’s the official synopsis: Winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform in a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in THE WIZARD OF OZ, but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown.

As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians, and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of romance seem undimmed as she embarks on a courtship with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband.

And yet Judy is fragile. After working for 45 of her 47 years, she is exhausted; haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood; gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids. Will she have the strength to go on?

FILE – In this July 31, 1967 file photo, actress-singer Judy Garland poses backstage at the Palace Theater in New York. (AP Photo, File)

Featuring some of her best-known songs, including the timeless classic ‘Over the Rainbow’, JUDY celebrates the voice, the capacity for love and the sheer pizzazz of “the world’s greatest entertainer”.

Renée Zellweger, Academy Award winner and three times Academy Award nominee (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Cold Mountain and Chicago), plays Judy Garland. Cast members joining Zellweger include Jessie Buckley (War and Peace), Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story) and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter).

JUDY is directed by Tony nominee and two times Olivier winner Rupert Goold (King Charles III). The film is based on a script written by Tom Edge (The Crown) and is produced by BAFTA winner David Livingstone (Pride) for Calamity Films.

Goold’s creative team includes Director of Photography Ole Bratt Birkeland (The Crown), Musical Director Matt Dunkley (Black Swan), Editor Melanie Oliver (Les Miserables), Costume Designer Jany Temime (Harry Potter), Make Up and Hair Designer Jeremy Woodhead (Doctor Strange) and Production Designer Kave Quinn (Far from the Madding Crowd).

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