Appearing on the cover of Variety‘s annual Academy Awards issue, the 73-year-old icon has given her brief opinion on Rupert Goold’s Judy Garland biopic, which sees Renée Zellweger portraying Minnelli’s mother one year before before Garland’s death from an accidental drug overdose at age 47.
When asked to comment on the film, the publication indicates Minnelli expressed no interest in seeing it despite Zellweger’s frontrunner status in the current Best Actress Oscar race. Still, she said: “I hope [Zellweger] had a good time making it.”
Goold’s film, which earned stellar reviews out of the fall festival circuit for Zellweger’s work, traces the Wizard of Oz star’s arrival in London to front a series of sold-out concerts at the Talk of the Town nightclub (now known as the Hippodrome) between 1968 and 1969, amid a personal and financial crisis that preceded her untimely death.
During an October 2019 interview on British talk show Lorraine, Zellweger previously responded to Garland’s daughters’ reluctance to see the film, including Minnelli’s prior statement that she does “not approve or sanction” the film “in any way.”
“I do know that representatives of the family and the estate have seen the film, so that makes me smile,” Zellweger said, before referencing Minnelli and her younger half-sister Lorna Luft‘s resistance to the project. “It’s an emotional thing, and probably a very complicated thing, but my hope is that, like you said, that it’ll be recognized as an expression of affection and adoration and sort of a proclamation of her importance.”
On the awards trail, Zellweger opened up about the balance of respecting Garland’s family while portraying the legendary actress.
“It’s a different sense of responsibility that you feel to represent things as accurately as you can by digging through the historical and public record of the legacy of Judy’s life,” Zellweger previously said of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “In reading those things and considering the source, I learned a little bit about the [difference] between the person’s true history and the public account, and tried to find the balance in between.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Minnelli also offered insights into her own career in the shadow of her mother, saying she “was absolutely concentrated on not doing” what Garland did, though she has gone to rehab — most recently in 2015, but is now four years sober.
“I knew, and I told my father [Vincente Minnelli]. He said, ‘Well, let’s see what can we do about it.’ I said, ‘Well, all these people talk about the Betty Ford Center,’ and he said, ‘Then you’ll go there.’ Just like that. So he took me there,” she said of her decision to seek treatment.
She added that she struggled to establish herself as an individual artist despite coming from Hollywood royalty.
“The hardest part was getting to be known as myself as opposed to somebody’s daughter. I remember Mama saying, ‘Now don’t get upset because of the way they may compare you to me because you’re an entertainer too,'” she said. “I said, ‘Oh, I won’t.’ And then she reads something where they compared me to her. She said, ‘How dare they? You’re your own woman. Dammit! Can’t they see?’ And she’d throw it down in the trash. She was wonderful and so overprotective. She tried saving us from any of the stuff that other people said, except the great stuff.”
Read Minnelli’s full Variety cover story here.