Renée Zellweger to play Judy Garland in biopic: good choice or why not Judy Davis?

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Today in “WHAT?” news, Renée Zellweger has been cast as legendary singer and actress Judy Garland for an upcoming big screen biopic, entitled Judy. Set in 1968 London, a year before Judy passed away from an overdose of barbiturates, the film chronicles Judy’s five-week, sold out stint at London’s Talk of the Town “Theater Restaurant” (a/k/a dinner theater). By this time in her career, Judy had developed a reputation as being frequently absent or late, mostly due to her dependence on pills and alcohol. If you’ve got the time, this article about Judy at Talk of the Town is an interesting read. Here’s Deadline’s synopsis of the project:

“As Garland prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of romance seem undimmed as she embarks on a courtship with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband.

And yet Garland is fragile. After working for 45 of her 47 years, she is exhausted; haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood and gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids.”

[From Deadline]

The film will include musical performances of some of La Garland’s biggest hits, including “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz (of course) and “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis. Production on the film is scheduled to begin in February of 2018.

This news is so much “Huh?” Don’t get me wrong, I like Renée, and she can act and sing (we all saw her in Chicago), but I just don’t think she can fill Judy’s ruby slippers. They are the same age (48), although poor Judy ravaged her body with drugs and drink and Renée looked lovely (and not ravaged in the least) at last week’s premiere of her latest film, Same Kind of Different As Me. You should know that, with my affinity for drag queens and Cher, I also love Judy Garland. I think the producers are doing this icon a disservice with this casting. Why can’t we just bring Judy Davis back to reprise her amazing portrayal of Judy Garland from the 2001 TV movie Me and My Shadows? Watch this clip and tell me if Renée can pull this off nearly as well.

I fell into a YouTube rabbit hole doing research for this story, and dug up even more evidence of why Renée is an ill-advised casting choice. Check out this 1968 interview from The Tonight Show and check out the footage from Judy’s March 15, 1969 wedding to Mickey Deans. Judy had a unique style and I just don’t think anyone (besides Judy Davis, of course) could replicate that. Hell, let Liza play her mom. I’d pay money to see that.

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Actress Renee Zellweger attends the 'Bridget Jones Baby' Paris Premiere at Le Grand Rex

Renee Zellweger at Bridget Jones' Baby premiere at Kinepolis theater

Photos: Getty Images,, Pacific Coast News

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26 Responses to “Renée Zellweger to play Judy Garland in biopic: good choice or why not Judy Davis?”

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  1. Enough Already says:

    What?? Smh – looks wise maybe Anne Hathaway? She has the eyes and mouth but is too tall, slender and not sure she could nail the voice. The project sounds Lifetime-y anyway.

  2. neelyo says:

    Sure why not. Who cares anyway, chances are it will get stuck in Development Hell.

  3. Agent Fang says:

    Renee is a world class actor and I think she’ll knock it out of the park. I’m also intrigued by Garland’s battles with her personal demons so I’m totally up for this.

    • kibbles says:

      Well, back in 2000 people were saying Renee wasn’t a good choice for Bridget Jones, and we all know that she hit that out of the ballpark. She might be able to pull this off with a black wig and makeup to make her appear like a druggie and alcoholic.

  4. Lolo86lf says:

    Physically Rene looks more like Judy Garland and she will most likely do a pretty good job portraying Ms. Garland but this movie will not be a big hit though. Good luck to Ms. Zellweger on this project.

  5. magnoliarose says:

    It depends on the writers and director if it turns out to be worthwhile.
    I just don’t think she is right for it and she looks very unhealthy and flat. Something isn’t meshing right with her since she stepped back into the spotlight.

    It should be someone who looks closer in coloring and sparks. I don’t see that with Renee Z.

  6. Lexilla says:

    Sooooo tired of sequels, adaptations, bio-pics, remakes and the endless parade of actors doing impressions of other celebrities. Rich Little did it first and better.

    • Megan says:

      Me, too. Plus, do we really need to rehash Garland’s tragic demise? The woman suffered enough abuse in life, let her Rest In Peace.

  7. Green Is Good says:

    Haven’t there been enough Judy Garland bio pics? Enough already.

  8. Esmom says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Renee so I’m rooting for her. More dramatic transformations have occurred so I’m not worried that she won’t be able to embody her. I think she’s got this.

  9. Jb says:

    Renee has virtually no eye balls. Judys face was all eyes. Renee is a great actress but I feel like she tends to look like herself…wonder why not Judy Davis?

  10. lisa says:

    ive already seen judy davis kill this, i see no reason for this

  11. Jane2222 says:

    Judy Davis who is now 62? Not sure that’ll work. Hathaway is too young and fresh-faced. Renee is a good choice.

  12. Lizzie says:


  13. HK9 says:

    I think Renee can do this because she killed Chicago and will put the necessary work into it. She’s got the skill set.

  14. Eliza says:

    I don’t care for the casting. Id rather the other Chicago talent Catherine Zeta Jones who out sang and danced Renee, imho. Plus she has the more doe-like features and is still age appropriate. Liza would obviously be a natural, but imitating this low in her mother’s life probably would be terrible for her.

    Renee is a good actress, but always seems to bring this “awe-shucks” cute quality to her work. I can’t describe it. Judy was a mess at this period, and this role has to be juicy for any actress given the script. Maybe Renee can prove me wrong.

    • Charlie says:

      Speaking of CZJ- she was a presenter at last night’s Fifa awards and my first thought was that she looked to be wearing Renee’s face. Remember how almost unrecognizable Renee’s face was when she 1st came back on the red carpet circuit? So sad.

  15. Sassback says:

    Why do we have to give this to Anne Hathaway, can’t an actress in her late forties play a woman in her late forties? Also, Judy Davis is in her 60s now so may casting wanted someone more on the nose for the age.

  16. Va Va Kaboom says:

    I’ll say this for her, Renee does skittish/hyperactive insecurity well, it’s basically what’s she’s known for. Add to it her own experience as a forty-something ex-A-List actress who’s still working, but has no where near the influence she once held… it may not be a total WTF casting choice.

  17. Harryg says:

    No no – I like her but she just looks too different. Alyssa Milano would look more like Garland. I know they’d never even consider her though.

  18. Angel says:

    For the thousandth time…casting is a mix of who would be good in the role and who has the name recognition to put some butts in seats, that’s it. More people have heard of Renee than Judy Davis.

  19. Anilehcim says:

    Everyone should just watch the Judy Davis version anyway… it was great and Judy Davis was incredible in it. Judy Garland’s story is just eternally heartbreaking… the fact that they’re making yet ANOTHER biopic about her just seems exploitative. Why do it again when it’s been done before? Hollywood needs new writers if no one can come up with anything original anymore.

  20. Kelley Bentley says:

    I thought Ann Hathaway was already linked to a Judy Garland biopic? Based on the book over the rainbow?