Ashley Judd Is Just De-Lovely
from the 6/30/04 issue of Windy City Times
by Richard Knight, Jr.

Ashley Judd smiling for the paparazzi at Cannes where De-Lovely premiered, the movie poster

Pretty Ashley Judd sits curled in the window of the designated press junket suite, high atop the Four Seasons
Hotel, gazing out the window.  She is tanned and wears a sleeveless, scalloped purple blouse and looks like
she’d rather take a stroll in the park with Shug and Buttermilk, her two golden cockapoos who lie at her feet,
rather than do more press interviews for
De-Lovely, the bio-pic of gay Cole Porter and his accepting wife,
that co-stars Judd and Kevin Kline.  

De-Lovely is the kind of movie that is going to need good press and lots of positive word of mouth to make
it a hit.  As there are no car crashes or comic book characters swinging from building to building in the film,
word of mouth is probably not going to come from the teenage boys and girls that regularly stoke the “star
making machinery” to quote Joni Mitchell, one of Judd’s favorite songwriters.

Gay audiences, naturally, are going to love
De-Lovely but what about the rest of the movie going public?  “I
think it has appeal on several different levels, one obviously is the music,” Judd begins, “I think older people
are going to be overjoyed to hear music that’s really music.  The fact that the love story is unconventional, I
think, is pretty interesting, too.”

De-Lovely, in Judd’s assessment, is also not really a musical.  “I think that’s actually misleading.  It’s an
unconventional love story,” she reasserts, “Set to music.”  Judd suggests that the Cole Porter songs offer
commentary on his life with Linda.  “Whether it’s homosexual love or profound gratitude for his wife or a new
love affair that was making him feel ambivalent about his marriage or going to Hollywood and just wasting
time, everything is right there, power packed into his lyrics.  The lyrics of the songs help advance the

It’s a hot day but the air conditioning is turned off and it appears that Judd is suffering from a slight cold.  Or
perhaps it is jet lag – Judd has just returned from Cannes where she and co-star Kline gamely began the
publicity mill for
De-Lovely.  Reporters delighted at Judd’s flawless French accent and perfect pronunciation
but saved their Oo La La’s for Kline’s fractured attempts at the romance language.  “He got much more love
than I did,” Judd laughs, “I think that closing the festival was a really privileged spot.”  

Whether the word of mouth or critic raves follow and make the difference at the box office,
De-Lovely, offers
Judd one of her best roles to date and to quote Porter, she is “C’est Magnifique” in the film.

Judd found herself in
De-Lovely unexpectedly.  “The horse was already out of the barn when they came to
me.  They were already in pre-production, Armani had been signed to do the clothes, Kevin had been cast,”
Judd says, “There was just something that felt very organized and wonderful about it.”  She loved the Jay
Cocks script and the roaring twenties period and after meeting with director Irwin Winkler thought it would be
a “Really attractive way to spend a couple of months.”

To prepare for the shoot, Judd read all the Porter biographies and was fascinated by the glamorous Cole and
Linda.  “They were always at the epicenter of what was happening and what was about to happen,” she says,
“They sort of created the French Riviera; they were the first to go to Venice.  They were this sort of cultural
phenomenon.”  Judd read a lot of literature of the period as background preparation and studied up on Art
Deco and Egyptology, all topics of interest to the Porters.

Portraying a real life character like the elusive Linda Lee Porter (who was actually seven years older than
Cole) was a bit trickier.  Much of what is known about the couple’s intimate life is conjecture – and there’s not
much evidence that she had affairs on her own.  “I don’t know if she did,” Judd says, “It’s suggested in a few
of the biographies but interestingly, it’s suggested by people who didn’t like her.  She definitely could be
extremely snotty and haughty and I’ve read a few things that were disappointing.”

Nor does Judd give much credence to the oft-reported rumor that Linda Porter was also gay.  “They did have
lesbian friends who led openly female gay lives and it’s suggested that because they knew them and had
drinks with them in Venice that maybe Linda was gay, too,” Judd explains, “In reality, we’ll never know but
what we do know is that she was horribly, horribly abused in her first marriage by a guy who essentially
tortured her and sex ceased being important and I think, frankly, it was a relief to be with a man who loved
her so much and didn’t want sex off her.”

Playing the glamorous, dressed to the teeth character was a terrific about face from her “women in danger”
movies that have been the biggest box office hits for Judd.  “I enjoyed playing someone that’s sophisticated
because that really has been a part of my life for a lot of years now.  I spend a lot of time in France and in
spite of this mythology about our poverty, I spent my summers at a country club and that’s as much a part of
who I am as
Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Heat and Smoke and all these other films.”

Judd saves her highest raves for co-star Kevin Kline.  “He’s wonderful, a consummate artist.  He brought a lot
of detail to the script and to the performance.  When it was over it was amazing to me that I hadn’t seen Kevin
Kline for two and a half months.  I’d been living with Cole Porter.  When we were in Luxembourg and wrapped
everybody met down in the hotel bar to have a little celebration and he had just vanished into thin air.  I really
grieved him, I enjoyed being with Cole Porter for two and half months and all of a sudden this other guy, Kevin
Kline, turned back up.”

Kline and an assortment of pop stars from Robbie Williams to Sheryl Crow handle the bulk of the musical
numbers about which Judd comments, “It was certainly delightful to go to work every day and have some
wonderful new talent pop up on the call sheet to serenade us all day long.”  But Judd also had the chance to
sing a bit in the film – including a very touching duet on the atypical Porter tune “True Love” with child actress
Taylor Hamilton.  

The experience was interesting but she also honestly assesses her vocal abilities.  “I think I have an adequate
singing voice but I just don’t have any confidence,” Judd says, adding, “I certainly don’t compare myself to my
sister because I don’t think anything can be compared to her.  I think she’s in a class of her own.”

Still, after Judd’s success last season with the Broadway revival of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" a musical stage re-
teaming with this year’s musical actor Tony winner, Hugh Jackman, her co-star in
Someone Like You, isn’t out
of that question.  “That would be a lot of fun,” she enthuses, “It would have to be just absolutely the right
thing.  Honestly, I don’t know if I want to work that hard.”

A cheeseburger has arrived and now Shug and Buttermilk are fully at attention.  “Oh yeah, now you love me,”
she laughs, reaching down to pet them.  Before diving into her belated lunch, she offers a last thought about
De-Lovely, “It was really refreshing and I hope people respond to the movie and to the character.  
What I believe we’re all ultimately looking for is to be known.  To be authentically known, loved
unconditionally, to be understood and Linda and Cole had that.  People don’t stay married for 35 years by
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