Renée Zellweger Will Be the Sixth Actress to Portray the Tragically Talented Judy Garland
Today, the world got a first glimpse at Renée Zellweger in makeup and costume as Judy Garland (pictured above) for an upcoming biopic about the iconic actress and singer. While Zellweger is hardly the first actress ever to play Garland — in fact, five other actresses who played Judy Garland in TV films and miniseries have come before her — this one we’re particularly excited for.
The upcoming biopic, Judy, is underway in the UK now, produced by Pathé, BBC Films and Ingenious Media. It’s said to tell the story of the icon’s final concerts in London, set in the winter of 1968, three decades after she starred in The Wizard of Oz.
This won’t be the first time Zellweger sings on camera, as she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for portraying Roxy Hart in the 2002 film version of Chicago.
Here are five other actresses who played Judy Garland through the years:
Andrea McArdle in Rainbow (1978)
McArdle was barely 15 years old when she portrayed Garland in this made-for-TV movie based on the 1975 book Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland by Christopher Finch. The TV film covered Garland’s early years performing in vaudeville and her rise to stardom through the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Hollywood studio. McArdle was reportedly criticized for not looking or sounding like Garland, despite having helped originate the role of Annie during its original 1977 Broadway premiere.
Carly Alves, Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001)
Three actresses portrayed Garland in this two-part, four-hour biographical ABC television miniseries based on Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, written by Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft.
Carley Alves played Garland at age 2; Blanchard, who was 25 at the time, played Garland through her teenage and young adult years, including her iconic role as Dorthy in The Wizard of Oz; and Davis, who was then 46 years old, portrayed Garland in her older years as she struggled to make a career comeback amid five rocky marriages and a drug addiction that ultimately proved lethal.
Davis won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal, and the film also starred gay actor Victor Garber as Garland’s fourth husband, Sid Luft.
Sigrid Thornton in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door (2015)
This two-part Australian miniseries based on Stephen MacLean’s pop biography The Boy From Oz actually focuses on the gay husband of Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli, Peter Allen. It covered his rise from humble beginnings in a small Australian country town, his flamboyant music career and his marriage to American royalty. Despite this, the miniseries still touches upon “the rigors of diet, pills and overstrain” that bedeviled Garland. Melanie Parry provided Garland’s singing voice.
MacLean’s biography was later adapted into a stage musical called The Boy From Oz, which opened on Broadway in 2004 with hunky Aussie actor Hugh Jackman playing the lead role. He won a Tony for his performance.