Renee Zellweger found Oscar gold Sunday evening for her loving portrayal of emotionally tortured screen icon Judy Garland in “Judy,” and she credited the team around her for helping her channel the legendary actress and singer.
Speaking to reporters backstage at the Dolby Theatre after winning the Oscar for best actress, Zellweger said she did a lot of independent studying of Garland’s life, but her team helped her channel the iconic movie star.
“Everyone was motivated by the same thing,” Zellweger said. “We all wanted to celebrate her (Garland), and every day we came to work and kept trying things.”
Zellweger said she was thrilled that everyone who worked on the film was unified in their ambition to convey Garland’s story as accurately as possible.
“You could feel the love for Ms. Garland,” Zellweger said.
“Judy” follows the life of Garland 30 years after she shot to stardom with “The Wizard of Oz.” Motivated primarily by the need to find a secure home for her children, she travels to London to perform a five-week, sold-out run of shows. But as Garland tries to perform, she fights with management, struggles with alcohol and medications and battles her ex-husband over custody of their kids. She also embarks on another ill-fated marriage.
“You can’t know how extraordinary a person is until you know what they struggle with and what they have to overcome,” Zellweger said.
The win was Zellweger’s second Oscar. Her first came in 2003 for her supporting role in “Cold Mountain.” She was nominated for her leading roles in “Chicago” in 2002 and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” in 2001.
Zellweger said she thinks she “wasn’t actually in the moment” when she won her first Oscar, because of the volume of work she was doing at the time.
“It’s a different perspective,” she said. “I’m a little more present now. I think that the time away and the time in between has helped me to appreciate it in a different way. … This is about wanting to tell that story and to celebrate Judy Garland and to shine a light on perhaps the nuances of the circumstances of her life that people dismissed as tragic, and, you know, the opportunity to tell a story that challenges that narrative.”