How Renée Zellweger Transformed Into Judy Garland For Judy

Photo: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Regardless of what critics are already saying about the rest of the movie, the consensus is that Renée Zellweger's turn as the late, great Judy Garland in Judy is remarkable. (Like, three-minute standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival remarkable.) Zellweger's surprising vocal chops aren't the only reason the actress is drumming up Oscar buzz for the role: Her spitting-image resemblance to the multi-hyphenate star is an on-screen transformation for the ages.
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Predictably, becoming Judy Garland for the biopic required Zellweger to spend a significant amount of time in the makeup chair. The film's makeup and hair designer, Jeremy Woodhead, tells Refinery29 that the metamorphosis required everything from a prosthetic nose to fake teeth to get the look just right. Given that Judy focuses specifically on the latter end of Garland's career, Zellweger's role isn't that of the burgeoning star fresh off The Wizard of Oz. Instead, we see the version of Garland tabloids relished in, visibly aged by decades of drug and alcohol abuse.
Woodhead's goal: To find an amalgamation between Zellweger and Garland. "Although Renée and Judy are close in age, Judy's abuse of alcohol, smoking, and drugs had taken its toll," says Woodhead, noting that he not only painted small lines and dark circles around Zellweger's eyes, but also exaggerated her jawline and smile lines with clever contouring techniques to make her appear haggard and fatigued.
Photo: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
To play the dark-haired Garland, Zellweger's naturally fair features had to disappear. While a brunette wig (made by Natascha Ladek), brown contact lenses, and darker eyebrows were obvious necessities, Woodhead was careful not to bury Zellweger in prosthetics. Eventually, he landed on a "less is more" aesthetic. Adding a prosthetic piece to the tip of her nose was the subtle — but effective — detail that would ultimately bridge the gap between Zellweger and Garland.
Also essential: a set of prosthetic teeth that clipped onto Zellweger's own (because, if we've learned anything from Bohemian Rhapsody and Fosse/Verdon, it's that sometimes fake teeth are a must for getting into character). Her vocal coach, Eric Vetro, told the New York Post that it was a challenge at first for Zellweger to adjust to singing while wearing the teeth, but eventually she warmed up to them: Zellweger told Vanity Fair that the false teeth even served as a security blanket during some of her live performances, which triggered very real stage fright.
It turns out that the tiny detail was all but necessary in capturing the essence of Garland — further proving that this level of commitment is probably going to earn Zellweger her second Academy Award.
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