Beloved Hollywood icon Judy Garland has gotten the biopic treatment many times before, from “Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland,” an early made-for-TV movie that followed her initial forays into the industry, to the not entirely flattering miniseries “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” but Rupert Goold’s upcoming “Judy” promises to explore a different part of her storied life. Starring Renee Zellweger as the “Wizard of Oz” star, the awards season biopic will likely offer a sober, emotional look at a strange time in Garland’s life.
Per the film’s official synopsis, the film will pick up in “Winter 1968 [when] showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-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 love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband.”
Fans of Garland will, of course, note that her Talk of the Town run came just months before her accidental overdose in London, and Goold’s film will be tracking what became of the final days of the star’s life.
Earlier this week, Zellweger told People that she believes the film will help audiences see Garland in a new light. “When there’s a better understanding of what it takes for a person to continue under certain circumstances,” Zellweger told the outlet, “there is a level of empathy and respect that you can’t help but feel.”
Despite the apparent care that the actress has taken with the film, Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli has been outspoken about her feelings on the film. As Vanity Fair reminds, “I have never met nor spoken to Renée Zellweger,” Minnelli wrote on Facebook after a rumor spread that she had met with Zellweger to help her work on the part. “I don’t know how these stories get started, but I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way. Any reports to the contrary are 100% fiction.”
Still, the film will include “some of her best-known songs” and vows to “celebrate the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of ‘the world’s greatest entertainer.'”
Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment will release “Judy” in theaters on September 27. Check out the film’s first trailer below.