Renee Zellweger celebrates 'heroic' Judy Garland at rainy London premiere

Reuters London, London, Great Britain (UK) Oct 01, 2019, 01.42 PM(IST)

File image of Renee Zellweger Photograph:( Reuters )

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The film depicts the last six months of Garland's life, arriving in London in 1968 as part of a sold-out concert tour meant to refurbish her financial state.

Actress Renee Zellweger led her 'Judy' co-stars down on a rainy red carpet in London on Monday (September 30) evening for the Judy Garland biopic's UK premiere.

The film depicts the last six months of Garland's life, arriving in London in 1968 as part of a sold-out concert tour meant to refurbish her financial state.

Amidst a rocky custody battle with her fourth husband (played by Rufus Sewell) and accompanied on the tour by her fifth and final husband, Micky Dean (Finn Wittrock), Garland struggles with depression, anxiety and addiction.

The 'Wizard of Oz' star died at age 47 of an accidental drug overdose in London in June 1969.

Zellweger, best known for the 'Bridget Jones' series of comedy movies, donned prosthetics and wigs for the role. She took voice lessons for a year before filming started and worked with a choreographer to capture Garland's mannerisms in the final year of her life.

Sheltering under a rainbow-coloured umbrella, Zellweger said she hoped the film would help to better understand the circumstances Garland was grappling with "to appreciate how heroic she was" and "remind everybody of her importance. Not just in cinematic history or pop culture but in history in general".

The 50-year-old actress has won rave reviews for her heartbreaking portrayal of Garland and awards pundits are already predicting a fourth Oscar nomination. Zellweger won a supporting actress Oscar in 2004 for her role in the drama 'Cold Mountain.'

"I don't think about it. That's a conversation that happens in rooms that I'm not in. So, I just think about the experience, what a blessing it was and the friendships that I've made and you know what, that's plenty greedy in my opinion," she said of the Oscar buzz.

Garland's children - Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft - were not involved in the making of the film. Minnelli has distanced herself from the movie, saying she never met or spoke with Zellweger.

"I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way," Minnelli wrote in a Facebook posting in June 2018.

Director Rupert Goold said he had not tried to contact the family before making the movie.

"I hope they respect that it's, you know, an attempt to celebrate their mother's life. I mean, my mum's here a bit later, I'm not sure I'd want someone make a film about her, either, so... You know, obviously they are really important figures culturally, anyway, Lorna and Liza, Joey too in a way, so, you know, we hope they enjoy it," he said.

Also attending the premiere on Monday was Garland's London assistant Rosalyn Wilder, who in the movie is portrayed by Irish actress Jessie Buckley.

"She was a tired lady and very frail but make no mistake about it, when she went out on the stage she was still the greatest star there was. She was one of the great, great artists of the 20th century and she is a legend now and I hope she always will be," Wilder said of Garland.

'Judy,' which opened in the US on Friday (September 27), will be released in the United Kingdom on October 2.