15 Essential Judy Garland Performances – Vulture

15 Essential Judy Garland Performances - Vulture
Renée Zellweger reveals she had to be sewn into costumes for Judy role
Renée Zellweger has spoken about the drastic measures she took to play the late Judy Garland in the new biopic Judy.

The 50-year-old actor, best known for her title role in the Bridget Jones film franchise, said she had to be sewn into every costume she wore in order to mimic Garlands trademark hunched posture.

Stewart Clarke International Correspondent @varietystewart FOLLOW Stewart's Most Recent Stories ‘Judy’ Producer on Renee Zellweger’s Performance: ‘People Had Forgotten She Could Sing’ New Walking Dead Series Lands at Amazon, AMC in International Markets BBC Revamping iPlayer, Says It Will Be the Heart of Everything We Do View All Facebook Twitter Reddit Email Show more sharing options LinkedIn WhatsApp Print Pin It Tumblr CREDIT: Michelle Quance/Variety/Shutterstock “I knew she had the chops – she could do drama, had won an Oscar for drama, can do comedy, and had an Oscar nomination for ‘Chicago,’” says David Livingstone of Renee Zellweger’s turn in “Judy,” which he produced under his Calamity Films banner.

Judy slouched a little and the dresses were made so that I couldnt have stood any other way, Zellweger said during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show on Friday night.

Several TV projects are coming to fruition. While acknowledging that “the film business has become harder and more polarized, and I do think it will become harder still to get money,” Livingstone is also teeing up movies. Next up is “Last Christmas,” the rom-com starring Emilia Clarke, underpinned by George Michael hits. The movie, for Universal and co-written by Emma Thompson, will have a previously unreleased song from the late singer as its closing number. Also in the works is “The Two Mrs. McBrides,” from playwright Bryony Kimmings, about two women of different ages going on a road trip.

I was literally sewn into them, she said. It was a great reminder during the day if you got lazy because you had no option but to stand like her. The sequins were very strict!

The TV show was written by Danny Brocklehurst and “This Is England” star Joe Gilgun, who was in “Pride” alongside Dominic West. “Dominic said [to me], ‘You have to hear these stories that Joe Gilgun has got…You should make a TV series out of them,” Livingstone explained. “I said: ‘I will if you will be in it.’” West duly obliged and stars in the show, about a group of working class friends in northern England. It has been one of pay-TV platform Sky’s biggest comedy launches.

Zellweger previously told Variety magazine last month that mimicking Judys hunched posture saw her visiting a chiropractor a few times while shooting in London.

A onetime movie marketing exec in London and L.A., he had worked with the star in his previous capacity, traveling with her to Australia on “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Folks needed reminding of her talents as “Judy” came together. “People had forgotten she could sing,” he said. “I remember going to meetings and saying ‘Renee Zellweger,’ and they were like, ‘Can she sing?’ I reminded them she was Oscar-nominated and pretty good in ‘Chicago’!”

Garlands posture was said to have been caused by a slight curvature of the spine, according to her biographers, a condition otherwise known as scoliosis.

Princess Eugenie has spoken about suffering from scoliosis, and had her wedding dress cut low so she could reveal her childhood back surgery scars. Garlands daughter Liza Minnelli also suffers from the condition, mentioning in interviews that it affects how she moves on stage.

At one point, Livingstone had to sink his own money into “Judy” as Calamity put the movie and its financing together. It helped that Zellweger was committed before all of the pieces were in place. “Renee was hungry, she had a hunger for the information,” he said. “She was picking up everything and looking at it, like shells on a beach. Some she was keeping, some throwing away. She has her own way of doing things.”

Zellweger is far from being the first actor to be sewn into her costumes on set. Olivia Newton-John wore skin-tight leather trousers for her role as Sandy in Grease that were so close-fitting she had to be sewn into them.

As Calamity hits its stride, Livingstone is a fully fledged producer. But two decades in marketing at Polygram, Universal and Working Title leave a mark. Faced with a forecast for rain ahead of this week’s “Judy” premiere in London, the Calamity boss’ old instincts kicked in. “I said we’ve got to get rainbow umbrellas,” he said. “We went out and bought them all.”

It was the 70s [when Grease was filmed, and] those pants were from the 50s. They were old already and the zipper was gone, so they stitched me in, Newton-John told People. Of course, you can imagine: Id have to pee, [so] they had to unpick it and stitch me up again!

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Renee Zellweger has skyrocketed to the top of our Best Actress Oscar chart for a critically acclaimed performance in “Judy.” She is being hailed for her nuanced portrayal of the mercurial talent that was Judy Garland. If Zellweger prevails at the Oscars next February 9, she’ll be 11 weeks shy of her 51st birthday. In youth-obsessed Hollywood, that would make her the 10th oldest Best Actress winner in the 91-year history of the Academy Awards. Zellweger would bump Shirley Maclaine, who was just two weeks from turning 50 when she won in 1984 for “Terms of Endearment,” out of the Top 10. (By comparison, 20 of the Best Actor winners have been over 50.)

Only two women were in in their 50s when they collected Oscars for their leading roles. Both Shirley Booth (“Come Back, Little Sheba”) and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) were 54 when they won. Booth was the older of the two by 120 days when she added an Oscar in 1953 to go with the Tony she had taken home for creating this role.

Yet the film belongs to Zellweger in a heart-warming and heart-rending performance.  Aided by a superb hair and makeup job, the physical transformation into the 47-year-old Garland is spot on; but Zellweger’s biggest coup is capturing the humanity of the woman. She was funny, warm and caring, as most people who came into contact with her soon came to realise – which makes her life all the more tragic. 

Another Tony champ, Jessica Tandy, ranks as the oldest-ever winner of the Best Actress Oscars. She was 80 years and 292 days when she took home the Oscar in 1990 for “Driving Miss Daisy.” That eclipsed the mark set by Katharine Hepburn, who was 74 years and 321 days when she won her record fourth Best Actress Academy Award for “On Golden Pond” in 1982.

Hepburn racked up her third win at age 61 years and 337 days for “The Lion in Winter” in 1969 and her second the year before for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” (Conversely, she ranks as sixth youngest for her first win at age 26 years, 308 days for “Morning Glory” back in 1934).

She is constantly being bullied about her weight and forbidden to eat – and constantly being fed appetite suppressants and sleeping pills, marking the onset off the addictions that would haunt Judy’s life. It highlights the darkness of what she found over that rainbow; and is all the more poignant for the committed performance from newcomer Darci Shaw as the young Judy.

Marie Dressler was just a day over 63 when she won this award at the 4th Academy Awards way back in 1931 for “Min and Bill.”

Exhausted and surviving on a diet of pills and booze, Judy struggles to make good on her commitment, with the help of Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley), the woman assigned to be her assistant throughout her stay.  To make matters worse, Judy’s ex-husband Sidney Luft (a sympathetic Rufus Sewell) is fighting for custody of the children back in LA.  

Meryl Streep had to wait till she was 62 years (and 249 days) in 2012 to finally win her third Oscar (for “The Iron Lady”), having claimed her second (for “Sophie’s Choice”) in 1983.

Garland won the hearts of millions of fans around the world with her repertoire of stage and screen performances, channelling her wit, warmth and incredible vocal ability. Yet by 1969, Garland was a shadow of the child star she was in the 1930s.  A life of heavy drinking made her unreliable to work with, leading her into massive debt. 

Helen Mirren was 61 years and 214 days when she reigned over the 2007 Oscars for her performance in “The Queen.” That puts her in sixth place as she was 92 days older than Geraldine Page was when she won in 1986 for “The Trip to Bountiful.”

And Frances McDormand was 60 years and 254 days old when she won her second Best Actress award two years ago for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to join the one that she picked up for “Fargo” in 1997.


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