"My environmental work at the moment is focused on being on the board of directors at Defenders of Wildlife, where we restore habitat and offset and mitigate the damage that's being done by global climate change. I'm really proud to be associated with that organization," says actress and activist Ashley Judd, whose ABC drama "Missing" premieres on March 15.
The series stars Judd as Becca Winstone, a former CIA operative who puts her experience to use in trying to find and rescue her kidnapped son, traveling all over Europe to do so. Location shooting everywhere from Paris to Prague, Istanbul and Dubrovnik meant expense in both cost and energy consumption, but the production tried to find ways to compensate. "We got all our scripts electronically, to eliminate using paper," notes Judd. As Becca, she's "faced with some really wrenching moral dilemmas about what I will and will not do to find my son, and how I have potentially set aside my previous values and integrity in order to accomplish what seems to be a more precious goal, which is to save my child."
Having been away from the camera for more than two years while getting her master's degree in public policy and writing her memoir, "All That is Bitter and Sweet," which published last April, Judd says she didn't miss acting but was lured back because she loved the premise of "Missing," the people involved, the fact that was just 10 episodes, "which does work well with the balance of my very abundant life, and each episode is event TV set in a glorious European capital. What's not to love?" The peripatetic shoot was "draining, obviously, but also extremely rewarding," says Judd, who prepared with yoga to do fight scenes and most of her own stunts, yet inevitably suffered a few cuts and bruises.
She was of two minds about shooting on location. "It was wonderful because I love to travel, but it was very difficult because I am, first and foremost, a homebody. I'm not a city person. So I made a real effort to get out to the countryside and walk and hike as much as I could," says Judd, who lives in rural Tennessee with her husband, racecar driver Dario Franchitti, and her two dogs and five cats when she's not working, though the dogs and two of the cats accompanied her on the shoot.
In addition to supporting wildlife conservation, Judd is a dedicated advocate for human rights, social justice and women, and gender violence issues in particular. She's writing another book, "about recovering from childhood grief," and she'd like to help "change the world" by using her celebrity for positive social transformation. "As long as individuals are taking responsibility for themselves and doing their best to be a part of the solution," she believes, "consciousness shift is inevitable."