Hollywood actor Ashley Judd makes a TV comeback with Missing, looks back at first show and doing women-oriented roles.
You worked in television in the ’90s...
Yes, the show Sisters was my first job. I have regarded it as a great introduction to professional acting. While shooting my episodes, I was still in acting school, so I would attend classes, go to the set and then return to class and share what I learnt.
You’ve been missing in action for a while.
I semi-retired in 2006 when I made some valuable changes in my life. I also enjoyed committing myself full-time for several years to my human rights work (which included a trip to India). So I made very few films—only ones that appealed to me for special reasons—like Helen, of which I am very proud. I also fulfilled my dream of pursuing and completing a graduate degree. After that, I had the inclination to do some creative work again, and the people with Missing found me at the right time.
Was getting back to work after the sabbatical tough?
Filming is filming: it is grueling, rewarding and consuming. It is truly a full-time job. I have very little space in my brain for anything else. So, preparing to film is about preparing to let go of the outside world for a period of time, and making it fun every single day.
Why did you take up Missing?
The premise is unforgettable: I am not CIA, I am a mother looking for her son. Every single episode, while rich with intrigue, action, and set in gorgeous locations, is essentially about family. It has an incredibly emotional heart. It demands the most from my vulnerability and emotional core.
You’ve done a few woman-oriented films in the past. Is this conscious?
Yes, it is. It’s more interesting for me, and I think for the audiences! Women are powerful, competent and capable. They are smart, vulnerable, clever and caring too. I like characters that allow me to be all that a woman is.
What kind of preparation went in for the part?
I reconnected with the weapons training I had previously done on movies such as Heat. We had a member of the British Special Forces with whom I worked. I also worked, of course, with my own stunt trainer. It reminded me of how much fun it is to fight.
Where has the show been shot?
We shot in Italy, France, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic and Turkey! However, my personal favourite was the great Swiss Saxon National Park, where I spent long hours hiking alone with my dogs.
When did you last visit India?
I visited India a few years ago for work on behalf of the Youth AIDS, for which I have been a Global Ambassador.