As Judy Garland in Rupert Goold's upcoming biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger has taken on the role one of the world's most beloved gay icons, but it turns out the Oscar-winning star's own relationship with the LGBTQ community dates back to childhood - not that she'd ever look at it like that.
As sits down with Attitude for her first UK and LGBTQ press interview ahead of Judy's release next month, Zellweger is warm, open, and endearingly cautious of sounding condescending as she talks about the LGBTQ people who've touched her life.
"I never know how to answer [this] because I don’t really sub-divide my friends", the actress says in Attitude's October issue, available to download and to order globally now. "I don’t think: ‘Those are the gay ones’.
"When I talk about my parents’ best friends, Mark and Jerry... I don’t clarify they’re gay when I talk about them. They’re just Mark and Jerry."
Zellweger, whose performance in Judy received a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival this week and is already gaining Oscar buzz, continues: "I don’t remember a time where I didn’t have friendships [with LGBTQ people].
"It’s difficult to say because again, I’m separating them... in some way, it feels uncomfortable.
"I like originals, I like people who are authentically themselves."
The 50-year-old star, who retired from the glare of the Hollywood spotlight in 2010 before returning to films three years ago, remembers bearing witness to the effects of homophobia as she recalls a friend she had in the 12th grade whose father struggled to accept his son for who he was.
"He changed his name and everything, which I guess in the late Eighties was quite brave," Renée explains.
"To to watch my friends be kicked out of their homes or lose family members because they came out, or to be disenfranchised because of who they are, or to know people who think in some way that it’s blasphemy in the eyes of their religion, or somehow that it’s a choice or affliction that needs to be righted... I admire that courage [of LGBTQ people].
"To overcome that and choose to live authentically, despite the difficulty that you will face, even today when there are a million and-a-half people at Pride, you must be of extraordinary character."