The second time around is twice as nice for Ashley Judd. After having great success co-starring with Morgan Freeman in 1997's KISS THE GIRLS, Judd re-teams with the Academy Award-nominated actor for her new thriller HIGH CRIMES. Judd explains in a sentence why she is thrilled to work with Freeman again.
"We love each other in real life," says Judd, who plays an attorney whose husband (Jim Caviezel) has been framed - allegedly by the military - for murder. And on screen, Freeman is her knight in shining armor when she enlists the ex-military attorney to help free her husband.
It took five years to get the two back together on celluloid but for both it seems worth it. Freeman often raves about the 34-year-old Judd and well, Judd can't stop gushing about Freeman.
"We have a really good time working together," says Judd. "He is so experienced and seasoned and you add all of that to his talent and you get a very appealing, combustible package. I'm so interested in how he works and in awe of his natural endowment of talent."
What also appealed to Judd was the material. But at first she wasn't keen, surprisingly, on accepting the role. It took some coaxing from director Carl Franklin to convince her that she was right for the part.
"He basically talked me into doing it," reveals Judd. "It was two hours on the phone and I was like, 'OK, I submit.'"
Her reluctance came from avoiding a pigeonhole on the strong woman/ always-a-victim parts that have now become synonymous with her acting career. Ultimately it was, in fact, the script - which Judd calls "very sharp and clever with a very passionate voice behind it" - that cinched the deal.
In exploring an angle for her character, Judd visited with a high-profile attorney and got to know her world because she says, "I'm not really around people like that." So Judd knew in order to make her character Claire become a real person she needed to spend time with people that Claire would spend time with.
Also recalling great films from that genre's past helped, says Judd, who counts LEGAL EAGLES and THE VERDICT as a couple of her favorite courtroom dramas, admitting the appeal of playing a lawyer is the instant stature you suddenly acquire.
"You have the illusion of power which is kind of fun," laughs Judd.
The journey HIGH CRIMES takes is the powerful antidote to mediocre middle ground entertainment, says Judd. And the audience not knowing where the journey will end is even more exciting.
"A well-written scene is very exciting," says Judd. "I like things that are unpredictable and of course the dichotomy of acting is that you have this general outline the words and hopefully a good director also shouting at you with their certain dramatic underpinnings so that the film can unfold in an artistic and exciting fashion. How it ultimately all happens, I don't know. That's the kismet, the magic and the excitement."
Working with Franklin helped bring HIGH CRIMES's magic to life. Franklin was just the director for the job and Judd was pleased with what he brought to the film and what he brought out of her.
"I really want to work with directors who will push me and who don't settle," says Judd. "He definitely was helpful in that way. I felt like I got into some substantial work."
But Judd is the first to note that sometimes in the contemporary realm of this world, movies are not the most important thing in life. They are a bonus to our lives, not a necessity.
"Movies are completely insignificant in the overall scheme of things," says Judd. "If they can bring to people a moment of diversion and a moment of entertainment, that in and of itself is a valuable thing."
Check back soon for part two of our Ashley Judd profile.