Renée Zellweger took home her second Oscar Sunday for her visceral portrayal of gay icon Judy Garland in Judy. In her speech, she called out to heroes and to inclusivity, a shout out to Garland’s embrace of LGBTQ people in her day.
“Though Judy Garland did not receive this honor in her time I’m certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy and is also representative of the fact of her legacy of unique exceptionalism, and inclusivity, and generosity of spirit,” Zellweger said in her speech.
She also gave a call out to heroes in general, invoking the names of labor activist Delores Huerta, athletes Serena and Venus Williams, and performer Selena, asserting that heroes are a unifying force.
“This past year, conversations celebrating Judy across generations and cultures have been a really cool reminder that our heroes unite us. When we look to our heroes, we agree, and that matters,” Zellweger said. “When we celebrate our heroes we are reminded of who we are as one people united.”
From director Rupert Goold, Judy stars Zellweger as the beloved Garland as she takes on the Talk of the Town concert series in London six months before she died at 47 in 1969. Judy depicts the singular Garland as not just the performer audiences knew her to be but as a mother desperate to be with her children, a friend, and an ally and a salve for LGBTQ people.
Based on Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow, Tom Edge wrote the screenplay that bookends the Talk of the Town series with a young Judy prepping to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The biopic also excoriates the people in Garland’s life from her mother to Louis B. Mayer to her husbands Sid Luft and Mickey Dean, who exploited her in various ways.
Zellweger won the Best Supporting Academy Award for Cold Mountain in 2004.