Oscar-winner actress Renée Zellweger does the seemingly impossible in the first trailer for the anticipated upcoming Judy Garland biopic Judy: she disappears into the role as the stage and screen icon who died in 1969 at age 47 of an accidental drug overdose.
The minute-long preview of theater director Rupert Goold’s adaptation of Peter Quiltter’s End of the Rainbow musical finds the Bridget Jones’ Baby star singing Garland’s iconic “Somwhere Over the Rainbow” in a quavery voice over a montage of images from the acclaimed star’s life. The trailer for the film, which opens on Sept. 27, features no dialogue, pushing Zellweger’s vocals to the forefront.
The biopic will focus on a brief period in Garland’s life during a five-week sold-out run at the Talk of the Town in London during 1968, during which she revealed her love affair with fifth husband Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock). “I made it clear to Renée that I wasn’t looking for an impersonation of Judy Garland’s inimitable voice, but what I wanted was for Renée to make the songs her own,” Goold said in a statement released along with trailer. “And this she did to thrilling effect.”
We see a young Garland on the set of The Wizard of Oz, exiting a car amid a flurry of flash bulbs, sitting alone in a backstage dressing room and skipping down the street with Deans, mixing images of joy and triumph with a heartwrenching “Rainbow” performance that can only amp up anticipiation for the film in the wake of the smash success of the Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody and the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman.
The film also stars Rufus Sewell as third husband Sid Luft, Michael Gambon as manager Bernard Delfont, Bella Ramsey as daughter Lorna Luft and Gemma-Leah Devereux as daughter Liza Minnelli. According to People magazine, Zellweger took music lessons, studied choreography and read up on the actress in her prep for the role, spending two hours a day to get fitted with prosthetics, contact lenses and custom wigs.
“It was such a joy learning about the magnificence of this person,” she told the magazine. “I always admired her. She was so quick and so funny. She could hit the ball back with the best of them.”
Check out the Judy trailer below.