By Stephanie Nolasco
Published September 28, 2019
Renee Zellweger is starring in “Judy,” which explores how “The Wizard of Oz” icon arrived in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts as part of her legendary comeback. Garland passed away in 1969 at age 47 from a barbiturate overdose.
“You know, I’m really protective of my mom’s legacy and my mother’s legendary career,” Luft, 66, told “Good Morning Britain” hosts Ben Shepherd and Susanna Reed on Thursday. “And I feel that if you really want to know about my mom, go see her movies and go listen to her recordings and go watch her television shows.”
“By the time my mother was 37, she had made 39 movies, and she had done over 500 radio shows, 1,257 concerts,” continued the actress/singer. “So, it was an extraordinary career.”
When Luft was asked about her mother’s well-documented battle with addiction, she responded: “I sit here and I think to myself that I’m the luckiest person in the world to have had her as my mom. She passed away early but what an incredible legacy that she left.”
“I didn’t live in her shadow, I lived in her embrace,” Luft quoted Ross, 46. “And I thought, ‘How great, what a wonderful thing to say.’ And that’s how I feel.”
Earlier this month, Zellweger admitted to the Los Angeles Times that she was conflicted about whether or not to get in touch with Garland’s children for advice on playing the part.
“I wanted to reach out not to ask questions, except to maybe ask what they would like or hope to see,” said the 50-year-old. “I figured that whatever was for public consumption, they had already shared at this point. I could find that. I wouldn’t dream of calling and asking, ‘Hey, what else can you share here? Because that’d be so helpful.’ To me, what they haven’t shared is a treasure and that belongs to them and that’s where it should stay.”
She admitted that she did make an attempt to reach out to Garland’s oldest daughter, Liza Minnelli, through a mutual friend, to no avail. Meanwhile, Luft, was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly before filming on “Judy” began.
“That was a time for her and her family, not for work and professional questions and a stranger to approach her about things that ultimately don’t matter, right?” Zellweger explained.
Zellweger recently spoke to Fox News about playing Garland.
When asked how she managed to completely channel the legend, the Academy Award-winning actress paused to think about Garland’s life and talent, then explained that her goal was to present what hasn’t been shown about the iconic performer.
“I approached it really humbly with curiosity and lifelong admiration – awe, really,” said Zellweger. “And I just wanted to learn as much as I could and read between the lines because I think that a lot of what we sort of address in the film has gone unaddressed or not.”
The “Jerry McGuire” actress continued: “It's just what isn't in the article that was written about her. What'd they leave out? What are the extenuating circumstances that nobody wants to talk about? What's happening in the private moments? And so I just – I sat with all of the facts and all of the sort of linear history of this period in her life, and I tried to understand from my own personal experiences and everything else that I read and what was missing in the telling of this part of the story of this part of her life.”
“But again, just I wanted to be careful because I, like generations of people, I have loved her a lifetime. And so it's just a special experience it was thought to be able to live in that exploration for a couple of years.”
In June 2018, Minnelli made it clear on social media that she doesn’t approve of “Judy.”
“I have never met nor spoken to Renee Zellweger,” wrote the 73-year-old actress-singer on Facebook, linking to a post on Radar Online claiming the star had bonded with Zellweger. “I don’t know how these stories get started, but I do not approve nor sanction the upcoming film about Judy Garland in any way. Any reports to the contrary are 100% Fiction.”
In response to the movie’s upcoming release, a rep for Minnelli told Fox News she had no comment.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy and Julius Young contributed to this report.