Interview: Renée Zellweger on playing Judy Garland and the Awards Season Buzz
When the first trailer for Judy appeared online back on May 10, 2019, there was this immediate chatter about Renée Zellweger and how she was going to be nominated for her performance in the film. When Judy premiered at the Telluride Film Festival at the end of August, those intial predictons were confirmed by almost every single person who saw the film at the festival. Even those who didn’t necessarily love the film have agreed that Renée deserves the nomination for such a capativing performance.
I have been a fan of Renée Zellweger ever since I saw Empire Records when I was thirteen years old so I was very lucky to get the opportunity to sit down with Renée earlier this week. We talked all about Judy and what it was like as an actress to be part of the conversation during awards season. You can read my full interview below:
Scott M: First and foremost, congratulations and such a lovely honor to meet you finally.
Renée Z: Well thanks, it’s an honor to meet you too.
Scott M: I’ve been a such a big fan dating all the way back to Empire Records.
Renée Z: You were three. (Laughs)
Scott M: (Laughs) Yeah. I was at the Telluride Film Festival where I got the honor of actually seeing this movie. And for you, what was it like to premiere the movie at Telluride and then go on to Toronto?
Renée Z: Oh boy. I mean what spoiled rotten experiences. These gorgeous places. And I mean to be on that mountainside with just a bunch of cinephiles who were all there for the love of movies and making movies, and to get to share conversations around our projects, and our passions. That was very exciting, really exciting. And then Toronto has always had a place in my heart. I’ve been going there since the early ’90s back when you were two (laughs). And it was nice to have that big premiere happen in that community where I have so much history and so many people that I love, so.
Scott M: Yeah. That’s awesome. As I said, you’re so phenomenal in this movie. I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing that already. It’s been probably going on for about what, three, four weeks at this point? You’re no stranger to awards season, you’ve been nominated so many times in the past, but as an actress, how does that feel when you keep hearing your name being mentioned over and over again?
Renée Z: It’s a little surreal and it’s embarrassing because to be congratulated for having been really, really lucky to get to do a project like this and to have been on this shared adventure, which by the way is a collaborative experience from beginning to end and feels familial, so it’s peculiar. I can’t look at it from that perspective. I can only remember it for what it was and what it was was one of my greatest life blessings. Is that an answer of some kind?
Scott M: No, that’s great. You’ve played so many memorable characters over the years with Bridget Jones being one of the biggest ones.
Renée Z: Thank you.
Scott M: What kind of reservations did you have playing an icon like Judy Garland?
Renée Z: Well, I was curious about why they had thought to call me because I don’t consider myself that kind of performer, but through conversations and understanding better what Rupert was trying to achieve with this, I was really glad that he called me. Because he wasn’t trying to tell a story about the superstar and the performer, but more about the private person and I have a little understanding about the vast gulf between what’s projected onto the public persona and the truth of a person’s life. And exploring that to me was such an honor.
Scott M: This movie has a lot to say. And one of the things that I think it has to say is this examination of the Hollywood system of building a star. How do you feel as an actress that Hollywood has treated you over the years?
Renée Z: I don’t know because, again, I can’t look at it from a different perspective than the truth of it, which was having lived these experiences. I feel spoiled rotten for the experiences that I’ve had and the collaborations I’ve had, and the people I’ve gotten to know, and the things I’ve had occasion to learn, which I wouldn’t have otherwise. And the rest of its none of my business really.
Scott M: That’s very honest. I appreciate that.
Renée Z: Well, I mean, the breadth of it is just conjecture, projection, presumption, and filling in the blanks. It’s a creation of people’s imaginations.
Scott M: That’s true. Well, thank you so very much.
Renée Z: No. Thank you.
Scott M: It was such an honor to meet you.
Renée Z: Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too.
Scott M: Thank you so much. I’ll be rooting for you during awards season.