Daughter of country singer Naomi Judd and half-sister of Wynona Judd, Ashley was born in California in 1968. Following the 1972 divorce of her parents, Naomi moved Ashley to Kentucky where the future actress spent her youth. During this time, Ashley bounced around 12 different schools; attending college at the University of Kentucky, she was set to graduate with a French degree in 1990, but an unsigned document kept her from receiving her diploma.
Unfazed, Ashley packed up and made the trip west to Hollywood. While living in a Malibu home bought by her sister, Ashley worked at chic Hollywood restaurant The Ivy. She earned steady work as a recurring character for 23 episodes on “Sisters,” the NBC prime time drama. It didn’t take long for her to start showing up in movies, either – she was the title character Ruby Lee Gissing in the 1993 indie “Ruby in Paradise,” which led to playing Val Kilmer’s wife in “Heat” in 1995. In the mid-90s, she was part of a couple film adaptations of popular novels, John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” and James Patterson’s “Kiss the Girls.” At the close of the decade and into the 2000s, Ashley then took it upon herself to become the reigning queen of thrillers, with such suspense pictures as “Eye of the Beholder,” “Double Jeopardy,” “High Crimes” and “Twisted.” In addition, there were romantic comedies like “Where the Heart Is” with Natalie Portman, “Someone Like You” with Greg Kinnear, and “Come Early Morning.”
Romantically linked throughout her career with numerous leading men like Matthew McConaughey and Robert De Niro, Ashley finally settled down in 2001 with racecar driver Dario Franchitti, five years her junior. Following the filming of “Bug,” Ashley entered a Texas treatment center to battle bouts of depression. She is the global ambassador for YouthAIDS and regularly attends Kentucky basketball games. In 2007, on the “Ellen” show, Ashley was presented her University of Kentucky diploma, which was obtained secretly by Ellen DeGeneres. While a fine actress, Ashley’s career has been somewhat panned for her choice of roles. But she has made a name for herself in so many different areas that to classify Ashley Judd as simply an actress or celebrity would be unfair.
Ashley on the Web
Ultimate resource site for Ashley and her work.
TV Guide: Ashley Judd
Recent photos, latest news and TV listings of Ashley.
Detailed biography of Ashley’s professional and personal paths.
Bio, a wealth of photos, filmography and links to other celebrities.
Ashley Judd on “The Daily Show”
2004 interview with Ashley on making “De-Lovely” with Kevin Kline.
Fansite with up-to-date news and comprehensive gallery section.
Ashley Judd Heaven
Late 90s website with four picture galleries.
Brief interview on the making of “Bug.”
Video interview with Ashley on “De-Lovely.”
Dark Horizons Interview
2002 interview on the experience of making “High Crimes.”
Ashley on the Screen
Her debut appearance is on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” for two episodes as Ensign Lefler. Her scenes were deleted from the theatrical release of Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” in 1994; she’s Norma Jean Dougherty in the pseudo-Marilyn Monroe biopic “Norma Jean & Marilyn,” Rebecca in “Simon Birch,” Natalie Portman’s best friend in “Where the Heart Is,” part of the stellar cast of “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” and Cole Porter’s wife in “De-Lovely.” She’s also the lead in the low budget “Bug,” directed by “The Exorcist” helmer William Friedkin.
In June 2008, Ashley will appear in “Crossing Over,” the “Crash”-like ensemble drama about immigration in Los Angeles. She’s part of the cast that includes Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta and Sean Penn. Later in 2008, Ashley has the lead in “Helen,” about a depressed professor.
On her talents:
“I was always told I was special. And I was also assured that I had a gift and a purpose.”
On her dream role:
“I have a lot of variety within me, and the dream role, I think, is actually a compilation of parts that express different aspects of my persona and personal interests.”
On Bluegrass girls:
“Us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin’. And if we have an opinion, you know you’re gonna hear it.”