Ruby in Paradise
"I was always told I was special and I was also assured that I had a gift and a purpose." Ashley Judd
Gifted actress Ashley Judd played the titular role in the Indy hit Ruby in Paradise (1993). Debuting with a bit part in Kuffs (1992), Judd later gained more recognition for starring in such hit films as Smoke (1995), Heat (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Kiss the Girls (1997), Double Jeopardy (1999), Eye of the Beholder (1999), Someone Like You (2001) and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002).
The daughter and half-sister of country singers Naomi and Wynonna Judd, Ashley Judd starred in the recent films Twisted, and De-Lovely, and will soon appear in the upcoming Come Early Morning, and Bug. She was also seen starring on Broadway as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (2004).
Green-eyed, brown/blond-haired Ashley stands at 5' 7" tall and has 34B-24-35 measurements. One of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People In The World" (1996, 2000 and 2002) and "25 Most Intriguing People" (1999), as well as one of FHM Magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002), Judd landed a lucrative deal with cosmetic giant Estee Lauder in mid 2004.
Her personal life has been linked to such names as actors Lyle Lovett (also singer; b. November 1, 1957), Matthew McConaughey (b. November 4, 1969) and Robert De Niro (b. August 17, 1943), pop singer Michael Bolton (b. February 26, 1954) and professional athlete Brady Anderson (played centerfield with the Baltimore Orioles). Ashley Judd is currently the wife of car-racer Dario Franchitti.
A self-proclaimed feminist and an etymologist, Ashley Judd is also a worldwide spokesperson for Youth Aids International.
Ash of The Judds
Childhood and Family:
"My mother's into frilly dresses, frilly eyelashes and hairstyles from the 70s. I'm more contemporary. We always seem to argue about that. She wants me to be her clone. But I have to be an individual." Ashley Judd
The daughter of country singer Naomi Judd (a.k.a. Diana Judd; former member of the Judds) and marketing specialist Michael Ciminella, Ashley Tyler Ciminella was born on April 19, 1968, in Los Angeles, California. After her parents' divorce in 1972, Ashley and her older sister Wynonna Judd (a.k.a. Christina Claire Judd; singer; born 1964) followed their mother to rural Kentucky where they lived in poverty, without running water, electricity, or a telephone. Ashley amused herself by reading books, while her mother and sister preferred to sing.
When Ashley was 15 years old, her mother and sister signed their first record deal with RCA as the country-singing duo the Judds.
During their tour, Ashley frequently stayed with her maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents, and sometimes lived with her father in Louisville. She also traveled with the Judds and earned $10 per day to clean their tour bus.
Ashley Judd, nicknamed Ash, was named after Ashland, Kentucky, and is an eighth-generation Kentuckian. She attended 12 schools in 13 years and eventually became a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Kentucky (1990, B.A in French), where she is also a fan of the school's basketball team. She also signed up with the Playhouse West School and Theater Company in Los Angeles, California.
"I enjoy being married. We feel very blessed and we're having a great time." Ashley Judd
In December of 1999, Ashley became engaged to professional car racer Dario Franchitti (born on May 10, 1973). The couple exchanged wedding vows on December 12, 2001, at Skibo Castle near Dornoch, in Sutherland, Scotland. A vegetarian since 1997, Judd is an enthusiast of the Cockapoo breed of dog and has a dog named Buttermilk and a tabby named Buttercup. She now lives on a 100-year-old farm in Tennessee, where she enjoys her hobbies: running, rock climbing, mountain hiking, yoga, gardening and cooking.
Someone Like You
"When I told my mom I wanted to act, her immediate response was, 'No, no, no, no.' When I asked her why she said, 'You love to read books. Become an anthropologist.' Then I said, 'Mom, I'm going to become an actress no matter what you say.' It's funny because now my mother tells interviewers that she knew I was going to become an actress since I was a little girl." Ashley Judd
Initially intending to join the Peace Corps, Ashley Judd turned her interest toward acting due to her sister's encouragement. After her first TV appearance in a variety special starring her mother and sister, "The Judds: Across the Heartland," in 1989, Ashley tried her luck in acting by moving in Los Angeles a year later. While studying acting at the esteemed Playhouse West School in L.A, she worked as a hostess at the local popular restaurant "Ivy."
After an appearance in the L.A. stage production of "Welcome Home, Soldier," Judd made her TV debut playing the reoccurring role of Ensign Robin Lefler, a Starfleet officer, in two 1991 episodes of the syndicated sci-fi series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." That same year, she won the regular role of Reed Halsey, Swoosie Kurtz's daughter, on the NBC drama series "Sisters" and stayed on the series for the next three seasons (1991-1994).
Bruce A. Evans' comedy action film Kuffs (1992, starring Christian Slater) was Judd's big screen debut performance. She initially was offered a bigger role, but after learning there was a nude scene, Judd took the smaller part of a wife of paint storeowner. She also made her TV movie debut in an adaptation of Vincent Bugliosi and Ken Hurwitz's book, NBC's Till Death Us Do Part.
Ruby Lee Gissing, a young woman who decides to take her fate in her own hands by touring the Florida coast, was Ashley Judd's breakthrough role. She played the title role in writer-director Victor Nunez's acclaimed independent drama Ruby in Paradise (1993) and won the 1994 Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress. Judd originally had a role in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994, starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), but her scene as the murder witness was deleted and only appeared in its video release in 1996. Meanwhile, Judd costarred with Brendan Fraser as his object of affection in Philip Ridley's direct-to-video semi-erotic thriller The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) and made her Broadway debut in a revival of William Inge's play "Picnic."
In 1995, Wayne Wang cast her to play Harvey Keitel and Stockard Channing's pregnant, drug-addicted daughter in his dramatic comedy Smoke. Judd also appeared in the music video of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," sang on the soundtrack by Jerry Garcia. That same year, director Michael Mann gave her the role of Val Kilmer's wife in his epic crime movie Heat (starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino).
An Emmy nomination arrived after Judd portrayed the title role of needy ingénue Norma Jean in HBO's biographical movie of legendary beauty Marilyn Monroe (played by Mira Sorvino), Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996). She subsequently played Matthew McConaughey's frustrated wife in Joel Schumacher's screen version of John Grisham's best-selling first novel, A Time to Kill (with Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey and Sandra Bullock) and costarred with Luke Perry, playing his self-destructive, live-wire wife, in John McNaughton's Normal Life (film sold to HBO).
Ashley Judd became Vince Vaughn's love admiration in John Patrick Kelley's The Locusts (alongside Kate Capshaw and Jeremy Davies) and teamed with Morgan Freeman as escaped kidnap victim, medical intern Dr. Kate McTiernan, in Gary Fleder's adaptation of James Patterson's novel, the thriller Kiss the Girls (both in 1997). The next year, she portrayed Rebecca Wenteworth in Mark Steven Johnson's film, inspired by John Irving's "A Prayer For Owen Meany," the well-received dramatic comedy Simon Birch (1998, played by Ian Michael Smith).
The rest of the 1990s saw Judd portraying a serial killer of men in Australian writer-director Stephan Elliott's film, based on the novel by Marc Behm, the voyeuristic thriller Eye of the Beholder, and starring as an ex-convict in Bruce Beresford's thriller Double Jeopardy (with Tommy Lee Jones). She also provided her voice for the animated video Our Friend, Martin.
The new millennium watched Ashley Judd costar as one of Natalie Portman's friends in Matt Williams' adaptation of Billie Letts' novel, the romantic drama Where the Heart Is and star as young, big-city journalist Fredericka Rose in the TV movie version of Arthur Miller's play, The Ryan Interview. Afterward, she starred as the pseudonymous sex columnist in Tony Goldwyn's romantic comedy, adopted from Laura Zigman's novel, Someone Like You (2001, opposite Greg Kinnear) and reunited with Morgan Freeman to play high powered lawyer Claire Kubik in Carl Franklin's adaptation of Joseph Finder's novel, High Crimes (2002).
Next came the blockbuster Southern dramatic comedy Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002, also starring Sandra Bullock and Ellen Burstyn ). Judd then nabbed an Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing famed Italian photographer Tina Modotti in Julie Taymor's version of Hayden Herrera's book, the true story of Mexican painter and 20th century icon Frida (2002, starring Salma Hayek).
More recent, Ashley Judd played the lead role of a police officer and daughter of a serial killer in Philip Kaufman's thriller Twisted (with Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia) and became the wife of legendary American composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) in Academy Award winning director Irwin Winkler's musical biopic De-Lovely. Soon, Judd will star in writer-director Joey Lauren Adams' upcoming romantic drama Come Early Morning and in William Friedkin's thriller, adopted from Tracy Letts' play, Bug (with Lynn Collins and Harry Connick Jr.).
"I can't think of anything I want and need that I don't already have. But at the same time, I'm not sated." Ashley Judd
- Lone Star Film & Television Awards: Best Supporting Actress, The Locusts, 1998
- Independent Spirit Awards: Best Female Lead, Ruby in Paradise, 1994
- Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Most Promising Actress, Ruby in Paradise, 1994