For a time, Ashley Judd was a star on the rise with nothing to stand in her way. She was exquisitely talented, young, and beautiful. Ashley Judd was everything Hollywood producers were looking for when they were casting. And then she ran into Harvey Weinstein.
ASHLEY JUDD’S HORRIFIC CHILDHOOD
Predators all around. That sadly seems to be the life Ashley Judd has lived. One would think that being the daughter and sister of one of the most famous Country Music duos in the history of music, The Judds, would be filled with more good than bad, but that wasn’t the case for Ashley Judd. From early on she lived a traumatic life, filled with abuse of all sorts, including sexual abuse. As she told the 10th Annual Women in the World Summit, “As everyone knows, and I’m very open about it, I’m a three-time rape survivor.”
Tragically, one of those incidents came when she was a child and the rapist was a family member. She has never revealed the name, but it was just the beginning of a troubled childhood that led to a troubled teenage life and eventually into adulthood. One of the rapes she suffered ended up getting her pregnant.
Her speech during the summit also covered her decision to obtain an abortion, explaining the logistics of the entire horrible ordeal. “I’m very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion,” Ashley Judd explained to her audience that her rapist lived in Kentucky and, at the time, her legal residence was in Tennessee. She further explained that if a child had been born, the rapist would have had paternity rights in both states, an unthinkable situation according to Judd. “I would have had to co-parent with a rapist.”
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Ashley Judd needed something different. Her sister and mother were Country rocking across the globe, but Ashley knew she had some talent of her own. Not really having the same singing chops as her mother and sister, Ashley tried her hand at acting.
Ashley Judd’s first acting gig was, believe it or not, on Star Trek: The Next Generation playing Ensign Robin Lefler in two episodes. She was also in the TV series Sisters, one that lasted Judd three seasons. The first time she opened eyes, though, was when she starred in Ruby in Paradise, pulling in rave reviews as the title character Ruby Lee Gissing.
Her star continued to rise when she was seen in The Passion of Darkly Noon then following that up with Heat in which she co-starred with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer.
ASHLEY JUDD’S NUDE SCENES
Given her past, it’s maybe hard for some to conceive that Ashley Judd hasn’t had any issue with nudity or sex scenes. Her most famous came in the Marilyn Monroe biopic Norma Jean & Marilyn. In it, Judd played Norma Jean Dougherty, who went on to become the world-famous but troubled actress Marilyn Monroe, whose role was taken over by Mira Sorvino.
As Norma Jean, Ashley Judd played her up until the Marilyn portion of her life took over. But what is notable about the film is that it was Ashley who recreated the famous nude pictorial Marilyn Monroe took for Playboy, posing fully nude for the movie. It wasn’t the first nor last time Judd would appear sans clothes in a movie.
ASHLEY JUDD VS HARVEY WEINSTEIN
Ashley Judd’s grotesque encounter with the sexual predator Harvey Weinstein was back in 1997 though she didn’t come forward until many years later. Almost 20 years.
She told Variety that she was making the movie Kiss the Girls and Weinstein wanted to meet with her – in his hotel. When she arrived at the front desk, she was told that Weinstein wasn’t downstairs but in his hotel room. Up she went.
She then went on to describe how things went “in these stages.” She said, “He physically lured me by saying, “Oh, help me pick out what I’m going to wear.” There was a lot that happened between the point of entry and the bargaining. There was this whole process of bargaining—“Come do this, come do this, come do this.” And I would say, “No, no, no.””
If all that wasn’t enough, he finally asked her, “Will you watch me take a shower?” Ashley Juddudd began to bargain just to get out of the room. “In that moment, I told him something like, “When I win an Academy Award in one of your movies.” He said, “No, when you get nominated.” I said, “No, no, when I win an Academy Award.” That was a small moment of power when I was able to contradict him and hold to my reality. And then I got out of there. And by the way, I’ve never been offered a movie by that studio. Ever.”
While her experience with Weinstein was horrible and tragic, Ashley says it wasn’t her first encounter with sexual harassment. One came on her very first audition. “[It] yielded a screen test and I was asked to take my shirt off.” Per Judd, she was in the running for a role with another actress, but she refused to remove her top even though she knew it’d probably cost her the job. “I said, that isn’t about our acting, that’s about evaluating a pair of breasts,” Ashley Judd explained via EW. “And the answer was not ‘no’ but ‘hell no.'”
We all know how the story with Weinstein ended. Guilty as charged. Now he’s in prison.
ASHLEY JUDD GETS HELP
It was a visit to see her sister Wynonna at the Shades of Hope Treatment Center in Buffalo Gap, Texas when Ashley Judd finally realized that her past had caught up to her. It was “family day” and Ashley was there to support her sister’s treatment for food addiction.
She recalls that she didn’t feel any different but that the counselors must have seen something in her that made them respond. “They said, ‘No one ever does an intervention on people like you. You look too good. You’re too smart and together,'” Ashley recalled via Glamour. “‘But you [and Wynonna] come from the same family, so you come from the same wound.’ No one had validated my pain before.”
47 days later after a stay at Shades of Hope, Ashley Judd reappeared a changed woman. One who felt she had more control of herself, her surroundings, and her life in general. “I used to isolate myself; I would go to L.A. and my friends wouldn’t even know I’d come through town. I used to blame others for how I was feeling. And I now know that no one can make you feel anything. One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
WHY SHE’S NO LONGER A MOVIE STAR
It’s not that Ashley Judd’s star has fallen, it’s just taken on a different shine. She’s not a movie star anymore but she continues to work in Hollywood. If she’s not on a movie star track anymore, it may not be her fault. Though through her representation during the Weinstein trial Judd says she has lost tons of work and pay because of him. But her work continues in front of the camera as well as her continued battle against sexual harassment.
Now 52-years-old Ashley Judd understands the cost she pays for being out front and vocal about it, she understands that it is her hill. “I have to know the hill on which I’m willing to die. And the hill on which I’m willing to die is equality, and if that means going to jail, being maligned, being defamed, having tremendous economic loss because I stood up to Harvey Weinstein — and it’s incalculable the amount of money I could have made that I didn’t — that’s the hill on which I’m willing to die, she said to EW.