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Ashley JuddAshley Judd | Judd One of Those Things
an emily blunt interview

 

 

 

Ashley Judd's got one of those Walter Mitty lives - her dreams seem to come true…I mean she's positively stunning, remarkably talented, has a great male accessory (speed-racer Dario Franchitti), and her family (Wynonna and Naomi Judd) are still strong and loving and equally successful.

Today Ashley strolls into the room dressed in a lime-green sweajacket, no make-up and frankly, a bit tired. She's been promoting the bejezus out of De-Lovely, her latest film in which she plays Linda Porter, the legend Cole Porter's wife and "beard."

She giggles as she says, " You seem very happy and upbeat! Do you mind if I suck the life out of you?" She's jesting, yet kind of serious. She explains she's sorry to be snippy - she's just over the whole press circus. It's day eleven for her and her castmates.

In fact the hotel-o-press is in a buzz-bashing-tizzy because we've all been left waiting...Ashley was a coupla minutes late because, she admitted, "I was having Calgon take me a way quickly." Ashley giggles and says it was really for all of our benefit. I know exactly what she means...and I mentally remind myself I really must snag the hotel suite's spread of Aveda toiletries before I go - I'm glad she reminded me for my own bubbling "escape" later...

Her two cocka-poos join us. They've asked if I'm a dog person …Duh. So after about fifteen minutes of doggie intros and hound bonding we get down to the chat. She's relaxed, more herself now, and much friendlier.

EMILY: Were you able to speak to anyone who actually knew Linda?

ASHLEY: I wish, I really wish. We even contacted the Cole Porter estate
to see if there were any moving picture documentation if there was something from a premiere, and according to the Cole Porter estate there wasn't. I'm still hoping to do a little more research, particularly with the Kentucky historical society, because through the social clubs and what-not. There's probably some information. All I know is that she was born into a very well regarded family of considerable social standing, but they didn't have a lot of money. She and he sister swapped dresses at debutant season, between them apparently. And everything that I know from her days with Cole--there were lots of photos and by important photographers, really pretty pictures, very artful.

EMILY: Linda was a socialite. The costumes in De-Lovely are simply stunning!

ASHLEY: We tried to do it justice, and we were certainly aided and abetted by Armani and, and Cartier, etc. but there was literally an expression of the day, very "Linda Porterish" and that was to describe someone who like Linda is beautifully turned out, impeccably cut clothes, really simple, highest quality, and a lot of jewelry, a lot of jewelry.

EMILY: This is quite a love story!

ASHLEY: Oh absolutely, absolutely. Unconventional, but devastatingly a
love story, absolutely.

EMILY: I know we've both read a bit about Cole - and there's different "opinions" about his adoration for Linda. Have you any thoughts?

ASHLEY: I think - that based on what I've read - Cole always
revered his mother and she was always a strong person in his life, to the
point that I think the father figure receded significantly, and Linda was
seven years older than Cole and without a doubt he looked to her for
approval, I mean he never considered a song finished until Linda approved of it. And as she predicted once they amputated his legs he never wrote another song and this from a man who wrote over 800 filled trunks and at one point wrote "You're the Top" from the time it took him to ride from the ground floor to his apartment at the Waldorf Astoria. He couldn't help but being prolific, but he never wrote again, after that.

EMILY: What is about Cole Porter - do you think - makes him so immortal?

ASHLEY: Well, I'm not sure I can say anything that's totally original,
but it's certainly that's sincere. He's a genius, definitely a genius. I
think that biography is really gripping and as we see in our kind of
unfortunate contemporary pop culture, people are really fascinated by
people's stories and Cole's lyrics were so explicit. They were incredibly
witty, extremely intelligent, they at times were of the highest order of
poetry, but all the while they were extremely personal, and really are on
the razor's edge of what he was experiencing of life at that given moment,
whether it was something with Linda or falling in love with Boris, or Boris
leaving, or you know, onto the next. They described both internally and
externally what was happening in their lives and that's part of why I think
they were so wonderful.
I think melody is also a key aspect to his endurance. There was abiography I read that was more about the music and music theory, and it talked about the sort of Eastern European Jewish folk song that arises in "Night and Day." And how he really wove global presence into his songs.

EMILY: Okay so you sang in this! That must have been particularly hard? Yes - no?

ASHLEY: I wasn't smart enough to have an apprehension about it at
first. [laughter] I had a healthy enough ego to think that I could have done a very reasonable if not good job and on the day it ended up being a real crisis of confidence for me. My knees were knocking. I should have gone to my sister. The movie was really well underway by the time I was cast, the sets were chosen, and they were doing pre-production. I kind of showed up and it was time to go and I didn't spend a lot of time at home preparing maybe in the way I should have, I only had Bing Crosby's version of the song until I got to London. And I did work on it with a friend, a really talented young friend who's a producer, and when I was singing scales with him to warm up he was going like this (laughter as she moves her hands down an octave on a faux piano) I have such a low voice and I was most comfortable in Bing Crosby's key, but did a higher register for the film. At the last minute Kevin wanted to sing it live and I went for that because I am nothing if not supportive of the creative people in my life, and he was the Alpha and he wanted to do it live and by golly I wanted to do it live for him. But that was going to be harder on me.

EMILY: Yeah - but the work is so real- so your pain was worth it!

Ashley: Thanks.

Emily: What do you think Linda saw in Cole- why was she willing to have a "sexless" marriage; I mean she seems to have really really loved him. What - if this is even fair - what did Linda see in him?

ASHLEY: She was a lot richer than he was too! Don't forget that! [laughter] I don't know, I think it's what he saw in her, because he loved her authentically for who she was, and as important as sex is, it doesn't have to be the cornerstone of every enduring human relationship.

EMILY: In one of the books they suggest that Linda may be bisexual as well.

ASHLEY: Don't you think that it's suggested by people who didn't like
her? I found that to be consistent in all the biographies. She might have
been, and conveniently enough, although it wasn't intentional, my line
"Let's just say you like men more than I do" it can work both ways. So when
we die and get to Linda and Cole Porter heaven, because I'm sure that they
have something to do with how great it all is, you know, we'll find out. But
they were friends Lady Mendez and other people who were gay, and so by
association it was insinuated that Linda was gay, and she could by all
accounts be really haughty and terrible, very aloof and very distant and a
lot of people who didn't like her were just like, " oh, she's queer."

EMILY: How true. Strong women seem to be targeted - godfabid a gal is independent and blunt...ahem... they can't handle it or something - so stupid. So…what was it like working with Kevin Yummitini Kline?

ASHLEY: [laughter] It was great! Of course. You know how funny Kevin is! I would look all pretty, and he'd go [ as she stiffens up and does a Kevin as Cole impersonation impromtu] , "I'm gay....I'm GAY!". [laughter] He was just a delight to be around. He's meticulous in his craft, a worrywart for all the right reasons, for all the good noble reasons. He works his tail off.

EMILY: Bravo on your marriage- he's quite swell!

ASHLEY: Thanks! H's a cutie.

EMILY: Were you a racing fan before you married?

ASHLEY: I thought it was really silly. I literally as a child I'd be
waiting for the basketball teams to get on. And now look!
END

Ashley's hounds had had enough - they insisted they go and seek a spot to do their business...so we meandered outside. Ashley isn't big on continuing her day - more press folks are waiting in every alcove. But, she smiles, bids a farewell hands the pooches off to her agent and sallies forth.

I am left alone and decide to collect my spoils of war; in the press-suite I snag the toiletries (Aveda's coveted Rosemary and Mint no-less. It's pauper journalist paydirt!). Followed by a quick pit-stop at the super-sized press-buffet table for a couple of slices of beef for my own waiting canines at home - they've come to expect a tidbit from the stars.

I head for the valet as Cole Porter's songs dance about in my head...De-Lovely is incredible. If you're a Cole Porter fan you'll appreciate what they've done with his tale, if your not, this would be a good time to get an education.

 

 


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