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Judy singing

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic movies in American film history, one that is consistently passed down across the generations and able to entrance all ages. It's perhaps the most iconic role for the great Judy Garland, who was just 16 years old when she played Dorothy Gale. Garland was a public figure for the rest of her life and beyond, and the end of her life has been explored with Rupert Goold's new biopic Judy. Renee Zellweger stars as the title character, and recently explained why the fictional characters Stan and Dan were added to the Oscar hopeful film.

In Judy, Stan and Dan are a gay couple who are massive fans of Judy Garland, going to see multiple performances during her sold-out run in London. She also shares a dinner with the two men, in one of the movie's most powerful scenes. I had the chance to speak with Renee Zellweger about Judy at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she explained the meaning behind those characters.

You can see my conversation with Renee Zellweger below, specifically related to the inclusion of Garland's gay fans in Judy.

Judy is a movie that tries to look at its title character honestly, balancing both her faults and greatest strengths during the film's 118 minute runtime. But director Rupert Goold did take some creative liberties, including adding the characters of Dan and Stan to represent what Judy Garland meant to her fans at the time.

Stan and Dan are supporting characters introduced in Judy's second act. As she struggles to find begin her sold-out run of concerts, she's buoyed by the joy she brings to her fans. Chief among them are Stan and Dan, who attend multiple showings, and are the only two ticket holders at the stage door during one particular performance. Judy asks them for a late dinner (very late), ultimately landing in their flat for a night of friendship, laughs, and tears.

Aside from being fans of Judy Garland's talents, the couple represents how much the late singer meant to her LGBTQ+ fans. Judy acknowledged her gay fans when so few would, with Stan and Dan explaining Britain's former anti-gay laws. And while Judy is largely focused on its subject, the character's dinner with these fictitious characters presents one of the films most heartbreaking scenes. And it's surprisingly not a scene about the struggles in her life, but that of the queer community in the 1960's.

Renee Zellweger clearly knows the history behind her character all too well, and understood the importance of those new characters in Judy's story. Zellweger gives the credit to director Rupert Goold for making that sequence pack such an emotional punch. Judy's legacy is still upheld by her LGBTQ+ fans, who have continued to pass down the traditions to future generations.

Indeed, Judy Garland's influence and affect on her queer built into the language of LGBT people, and has been present years after her untimely death in 1969. The term "Friend of Dorothy" was an underground way for queer people to identify themselves when it was still illegal to be openly gay. It's been reported that Garland's death was an underlying reason behind the Stonewall Riots, as her fans were grieving when the police raid happened at the New York City bar, leading the patrons to fight back.

Judy has been getting some great reviews, especially praising Renee Zellweger's performance as Garland. There's even some early Oscar buzz, so it should be fascinating to see how it stacks up as we get closer to Awards Season.

Rupert Goold's Judy is in theaters now. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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