Renée Zellweger won the leading actress Bafta for Judy at tonight’s EE British Academy Film Awards.
She won over fellow nominees Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell).
Recognising her fellow nominees, she said: "This is very humbling. Saoirse, Charlize, Scarlett, Jessie, it's an honour to share this evening with you. Jessie Buckley, you are a superstar. I'm so proud of you for this evening, you are such a special person, you elevate everything you do and I am so grateful for our friendship."
Zellweger plays screen icon Judy Garland in Judy, a melancholic look at the star’s final years. The film, directed by Rupert Goold is an adaptation of the West End and Broadway play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter.
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In her speech she added: "Miss Garland, London town, which you have always loved so much, still loves you back. This is for you."
Groomed for stardom from an early age (Judy claims she made her singing debut aged 2), Garland – born Frances Ethel Gumm – sacrificed her life for a Hollywood career. Speaking to Yahoo in 2019, Zellweger said the film shows her wrestling back control of her life after years of being told what to do, what to wear, what to eat, and who to date.
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“It’s one thing to be gifted and to be beautiful and to be able to have a wonderful life performing, being adored,” explained the 50-year-old star, “but it’s quite another thing to be sent down a path, having no agency over the direction of your professional trajectory with no-one having any understanding of the consequences for the choices that they make for you.”
“Looking at it from that perspective, you can see that she’s heroic not tragic.”