It’s been three years since actor Renée Zellweger starred in a film—the last being 2016’s Bridget Jones’s Baby, per Entertainment Weekly —though she’s had a handful of supporting roles since then. Which is not to say she hasn’t been hard at work. Later this year, she’ll sing her way through Judy Garland’s catalog in the forthcoming biopic Judy, the first trailer for which debuted on Friday. Judy picks up in 1968, 30 years after Garland’s rise to acclaim with The Wizard of Oz; that year, the actor and singer arrived in London to play a series of shows at the Talk of the Town club. (Garland died in London the following year, at 47, of an accidental drug overdose.) It was a period of her life, Zellweger recently told People, when “women didn’t necessarily feel that they had power over their own lives”—something Garland was well acquainted with in her interactions with studio executives and management.
The trailer opens with “Over the Rainbow,” covered by Zellweger, as scenes from Garland’s life flash by on the screen. (The film will also reportedly feature other such Garland classics as “Get Happy,” from Summer Stock.) There’s the yellow brick road, a dressing room filled with flowers, sold-out clubs; it looks to present a relatively rosy, nostalgic outlook on Garland’s career, toward the end, but there’s also a scene of a violent argument and Judy, profoundly alone, in her dressing room.
Though it’s a biopic (that’s bi-oh-pic, not bi-ah-pic, thank you very much), director Rupert Goold wasn’t looking for Renée Zellweger to imitate Garland’s probably inimitable voice as she makes her way through the late performer’s catalog. “What I wanted was for Renée to make the songs her own,” he said in a statement accompanying the trailer’s release. He was confident she could do so, of course, after her turn in 2002’s Chicago. It echoes another, much smaller recent project: Last year, director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s Nico biopic Nico, 1988, similarly picked up late in that performer’s life, just a year before her death, with singer Trine Dyrholm covering her music in her own way.
Beloved Game of Thrones teen Bella Ramsey will play Lorna, Garland’s daughter with her third husband, Sid Luft. Ryan Murphy company player Finn Wittrock will play Garland’s fifth husband, Mickey Deans. Meanwhile, Liza Minnelli, Garland’s daughter with her third husband, Vincente Minnelli, and played by Gemma-Leah Devereux, does not approve.