Ashley Judd managed to successfully have her own career completely separate from her country music singing mother and sister, Naomi and Wynonna Judd of The Judds. Originally born Ashley Tyler Ciminella, the actress packed her bags for California after attending the University of Kentucky to try to make it in Hollywood and never looked back. She may not have the same musical gift others in her family had, but she has something special that lets her shine in front of the camera.
After nabbing roles in films like Ruby in Paradise and Natural Born Killers, Ashley Judd became a bonafide movie star, known for her regular appearances in dramatic thrillers topping the box office. Though she's starred in her own ABC TV show, we're partial to all of Judd's diverse movie roles that have proved her an incredibly versatile actress.
Here are all of Judd's best films from her lengthy career in entertainment.
1. Where the Heart Is
Judd stars opposite Natalie Portman and Stockard Channing in this southern drama about a teen who gives birth in an Oklahoma Walmart and the people surrounding her and her child in the years that follow.
2. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Judd stars as the younger Vivi Abbott Walker in this film written by Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri. Based on Rebecca Wells' novel, the story follows the Ya-Ya Sisters, a group of best friends, from their days growing up in Lousiana in the 1930s to the present, specifically focusing on Vivi's relationship with her daughter Siddalee (Sandra Bullock).
3. Double Jeopardy
Libby Parsons (Judd) thinks she has a perfectly normal life with her husband and young son. But when she gets thrown in prison for her husband's murder and has her son taken away from her, she'll stop at nothing to figure out the truth. Tommy Lee Jones co-stars as Libby's parole officer, who is on her tail as she searches for her son and answers.
4. High Crimes
Judd stars opposite Jim Caviezel and Morgan Freeman in this military thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end. When Claire Kubik's husband gets charged with murdering civilians during a covert military raid in El Salvador, she hires a former military attorney (Freeman) to help her defend him in a military court. As a lawyer herself, does she have what it takes to defend her husband and clear his name?
5. Someone Like You
Jane Goodale (Judd) works as a production assistant on a talk show alongside a womanizing producer (Hugh Jackman). In this romantic comedy, Jane deals with her unlucky love life, her stress at work dealing with her ridiculous boss (Ellen Barkin), and ultimately finds love from an unexpected source. It really is a classic 90s rom-com that doesn't disappoint. Plus...Hugh Jackman.
6. Kiss the Girls
This thriller stars Judd opposite Morgan Freeman again in a film based on James Patterson's novel. Judd plays Dr. Kate McTiernan, a woman who manages to escape being abducted by a serial killer. Despite the trauma, she joins forces with Detective Alex Cross (Freeman) to help find the other abducted women she had to leave behind. This is one of the earlier thrillers credited to Judd's IMDB profile proving that as an actress, she really can do it all.
This musical biopic follows the life of renowned composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline), starting from his early relationship with his wife Linda Porter (Judd) until his death. The film received many Golden Globe nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Judd.
8. Dolphin Tale
Co-starring Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and Kris Kristofferson, Dolphin Tale follows the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who is rescued and rehabilitated at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida after losing her tail in a crab trap. Judd plays Lorraine Nelson, the mother of the 11-year-old boy who finds Winter and saves her from the trap. Winter isn't a pet like a dog, but Sawyer still develops a close bond with the dolphin as she learns to swim with her new prosthetic tail.
9. Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant
Based on the young adult trilogy written by Veronica Roth, Judd appears in the role of Natalie Prior, the mother of the story's lead character Tris (Shailene Woodley). As the story unfolds, Natalie might just have a lot more to offer her daughter than it originally seemed.
10. Norma Jean & Marilyn
In a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated role, Judd plays Norma Jean Dougherty, the "former self" of Marilyn Monroe (played by Mira Sorvino), who appears throughout the HBO film to taunt the new version of herself.
Judd stars opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Andy García as Jessica Shepard, an up-and-coming police officer in San Francisco who finds herself working on a high-profile serial killer case. Similar to some of Judd's other intense films like Crossing Over, Trafficked, and Bug, Twisted will definitely keep you guessing until the very end.
?12. Simon Birch
This dramatic film based on John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, stars Judd as Rebecca Wenteworth, the mother of Joe, who is childhood friends with Simon Birch. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be completely moved watching the story of young Simon becoming a local hero in his small town.
13. Olympus Has Fallen
Judd plays First Lady Margaret Asher in this dramatic film about a secret service agent who must go to extreme lengths to save the White House after its overtaken by terrorists.
If Pacino and De Niro are both in it, you know it's a good movie. This was only Judd's third film, but she makes an impression among a truly incredible cast. The story follows an LAPD detective (Pacino) who's hunting down a career thief (De Niro) and how the experience affects both of their personal lives. Val Kilmer co-stars as Chris Shiherlis, a member of the crew who is going to rob a bank. Judd plays his wife Charlene, who the LAPD tries to get to turn against her husband.
15. Come Early Morning
Ashley Judd shines in this 2006 film as construction contractor Lucy Fowler. She comfortably lives a life of one-night stands after enjoying a drink at the bar without having to get too close to anyone. But a handsome newcomer in town might change all that and help confront the demons she's been hiding from when her estranged father comes to town. She's a strong southern woman in this independent film that was shot in small-town Arkansas.
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