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Exclusive: 'Judy' director Rupert Goold on why Judy Garland remains such an enduring gay icon

"In a different era, she was unafraid to be associated with the gay community."

2019-10-02

More than 50 years may have passed since her untimely death in London in 1969, but there's no doubt that Judy Garland remains one of the world's most enduring gay icons.

The Wizard of Oz star overcame years of abuse at the hands of Hollywood executives to become one of the most beloved stars of the 20th century, cultivating a close and intensely personal relationship with gay colleagues and audiences in the process.

It's a relationship which is addressed in Renée Zellweger-fronted biopic Judy - out in the UK today (2 October) - and one which the film's director, Rupert Goold, believes underpinned Garland's sense of her place in the world.

Speaking to Attitude at Judy's European premiere in London this week, Goold discussed the reasons he believes both Garland and her story continue to resonate with gay men more than half a century after her death.

"She was persecuted by the studio for not being like Liz Taylor", he says. "She looked wrong; she acted wrong, and I feel like in that sense she self-identified as an outsider at some level. And yet she kept coming back.

"I think it's those two things: that she was successful but always a marked outsider; a bit of a rebel as well; a transgressor.

"You know, [1954's] A Star Is Born, [it's] one of the best performances in history, and she wasn't acknowledged for it because she was seen as a drunk."

Goold continues: "And also she acknowledged her gay fans - and of course she married some of them!

"In a different era, she was unafraid to be associated with the gay community."

Goold, who says it was the humour and singing ability of current Attitude cover star Zellweger that won her the role of Garland, adds that the current Oscar-buzz for his leading lady is fully-earned in the film.

Asked if a second Academy Award is on the cards for Zellweger comes awards season, he replies: "She derserves one, I reckon. But who knows..."

Read our exclusive interview with Renée Zellweger in Attitude's October issue, out now to download and to order globally.

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