TIFF 2019: Renée Zellweger receives Standing Ovation at Judy Canadian Premiere

Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger was at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday 10th September to introduce her new film Judy, based on the final years of queer icon Judy Garland. Ahead of the screening Zellweger described the film as “a huge celebration of beautiful Judy Garland and her legacy.”

When she returned to the stage following the film the star was visibly moved by the TIFF audience’s reaction who gave a passionate standing ovation, which only came to an end at Zellweger’s request, who was concerned her makeup would start running.

In addressing the sense of responsibility she felt in portraying Garland, Zellweger told the TIFF audience: “It’s a different sense of responsibility that you feel to represent things as accurately as you can, I started digging through the historical record and the public record of the legacy of Judy’s life and then first hand accounts and anecdotes and things that people would write in biographies or share, always being a bit judicious in reading those things and considering the source, knowing a little bit about the vast gulf between a person’s true history and the public account of that and then trying to find the balance between and fill in the blanks. It was a wonderful exploration that was driven by our admiration and affection for Judy. Every day it was a celebration of her. It was a wonderful experience.”

Judy Courtesy of TIFF

“I didn’t think that I was going to be an actress growing up so I don’t think that I was collecting any kind of information when I was watching her growing up. She was just someone that I loved She was part of my childhood, like I’m sure everybody here you got in front of the television once a year and watched The Wizard of Oz and with my parents she was always on the turntable, and we would watch reruns of her specials or any of the interview appearances she’d given or live performances when they came on television and so I just loved her and I’m sad to say that I took her for granted, like a lot of people that you love in your life you know she was just always thereand she was of course extraordinary and she of course deserved that place in history that she carved out for herself among the greats for all time. It wasn’t until we did this film that I properly came to appreciate how truly extraordinary she was by learning about the circumstances she was grappling with and in the third chapter of her life and I feel like it’s one thing to be born with this God given mix of talents that are one in a million years but it’s quite another thing to carry on and navigate your way through what seem to be insurmountable difficulties and I think in learning about that it’s what really sets her apart as not just iconic but heroic really , I was more deeply in love the more we learned about her.”

On where she learnt to sing for the role Zellweger said: “In a lot of rooms in a lot of countries with a lot of people over a lot of months. We started in Abbey Road which is reason enough to say yes to any project and I couldn’t sing those songs initially because I didn’t have the strength to do it but we just worked. I have a lot of people to thank for that and it was a fun shared experience.”

On her own fame she said: “It’s not that I think about, it’s not something that I’m exposed to and it’s very surprising to me because we live a really insular life in the work that we do and it’s sort of a shared collaboration and you kinda go underground and so you forget that the things that you do are going to become public and possibly something that someone else shares feelings for, you forget that part until nights like tonight which are unforgettable by the way, thank you.” In addressing the contrast between the public and public perception of her in her own life Zellwger said: “In certain circumstances when the public persona enters the room before you do and you never have an authentic exchange because people meet who they think you probably are based on projections it can be challenging in that way.”

Judy Official Poster


On her own fame she said: “It’s not that I think about, it’s not something that I’m exposed to and it’s very surprising to me because we live a really insular life in the work that we do and it’s sort of a shared collaboration and you kinda go underground and so you forget that the things that you do are going to become public and possibly something that someone else shares feelings for, you forget that part until nights like tonight which are unforgettable by the way, thank you.” In addressing the contrast between the public and public perception of her in her own life Zellwger said: “In certain circumstances when the public persona enters the room before you do and you never have an authentic exchange because people meet who they think you probably are based on projections it can be challenging in that way.”

Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment will release JUDY in US theaters on 27th September 2019.

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