Ashley Judd, from Star Trek to Tooth Fairy

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd is set to star in tv search drama Missing

Ashley Judd was born April 19, 1968 in Granada Hills, California. Her first important role was on television as Ensign Robin Lefler, a Starfleet officer, in two 1991 episodes of Star Trek. Her best movie, Ruby in Paradise (1993), was one of her first. But she has starred in many excellent movies since then, including Smoke (1995), Heat (1995), Frida (2002), and Come Early Morning (2006).

Judd has starred in a few clunkers, including Eye Of The Beholder (1999), Twisted (2004), Crossing Over (2009), and the truly awful Tooth Fairy (2010), with Dwight The Rock Johnson in a pink tutu -- so hilarious ... not.

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd. Hollywood greats

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd, cover girl. More screen stars

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd. See Eva Mendes

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd. Hollywood greats

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd. Hollywood greats

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd. Hollywood greats

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin at loggerheads with Ashley Judd

Film critic Roger Ebert writes of her, Most of Ashley Judd's biggest hits have been thrillers, but most of her very best work has been in closeup character studies. That was true of her first film, Ruby In Paradise (1993), and it's true ... of Come Early Morning (2006).

Ruby In Paradise, written and directed by Victor Nunez, is set in Panama City Beach on Florida's redneck Riviera.

It tells the story of Ruby, who moves from rural Tennessee to escape her fundamentalist Christian home and build a life without guilt and shame.

She finds work in a souvenir store which, simple though it is, fulfills her needs. By the end of the film, she is proud of who she is and what she does.

Come Early Morning, a small independent movie that made little money, is Judd's best work in recent years -- good enough that we can forgive her for the woeful Tooth Fairy (2010).

It's about a small-town Arkansas woman, Lucille, whose life comprises getting drunk, sleeping with guys she picks up in a bar, then making a quick getaway the next morning.

Her life changes when she meets decent guy Cal, played by Jeffrey Donovan. He is hurt when she tries to sneak away in the morning. When was the last time you kissed someone sober? he asks her.

This marks the start of Lucille's recovery, and their one-night stand is the start of a journey of transformation.

Judd - Palin wars

Judd is known for her 2009 spat with Sarah Palin over Alaska's wolf management program, which allowed culling of wolves from aircraft.

Appearing in a video for the Washington-based Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, Judd said that Palin was championing the slaughter of wildlife.

She repeated the accusation on CNN's Larry King Live, calling the wolf management program incredibly savage ... it's not right, it's not appropriate, it makes no sense on any level.

Annoyed by criticism from a Hollywood liberal, Palin hit back, saying: The ad campaign by this extreme fringe group [Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund], as Alaskans have witnessed over the last several years, distorts the facts about Alaska's wildlife management programs.

She added: These audacious fundraising attempts misrepresent what goes on in Alaska, and I encourage people to learn the facts about Alaska's positive record of managing wildlife for abundance. Shame on the Defenders of Wildlife for twisting the truth in an effort to raise funds from innocent and hard-pressed Americans struggling with these rough economic times.

Clinical depression

Palin is an easy target. It took a lot more courage for Judd to go public with news she had long been battling depression, a problem she attributes to her chaotic and dysfunctional childhood. She's the younger daughter of country singer Naomi Judd. She went to 13 schools in 12 years and shifted from living with her mother, her father and her grandparents.

Back in 2005, she underwent a 47-day treatment program at the Shades of Hope clinic in Buffalo Gap, west of Dallas, Texas. I needed help. I was in so much pain, she says.

She slept to combat depression and was a compulsive cleaner. After overcoming her compulsive disorder, Judd says: Now I try to remind myself that if I engage in perfectionism, I am abusing myself.

Personal experience of depression helped Judd in the movie Helen (2008) about a music professor suffering from clinical depression.

Shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Helen was written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck and is based on the suicide of one of Nettlebeck's childhood friends.

Judd embraces the title role of Helen, keeping the tone sad and quietly desperate without ever making it making it showy and theatrical.

She took her own close memories of depression into the movie: I remember what it was like ... when I was living in a perpetual state of anxiety, looking incredibly composed and every inch a movie star. It feels like you can't breathe properly. Every thought you have brings more stress, and for me, the most frustrating part was that I felt powerless to change it.

Judd's successful battle with depression led to spiritual renewal in her life: I came to a point in my life where I gave it up to a force greater than myself. For a long time, I'd cut God out of my life because I was strong-minded and self-willed. I was very good at hurting my own feelings

In opening myself to a god force, I gave myself the chance to do things differently and live by spiritual principles. I read and studied the work of Eckhart Tolle, and learned to accept certain mysterious forces. Now I believe in a truly holistic approach to healing, she says.

Buy Ashley Judd's hottest movies: Ruby in Paradise, Come Early Morning : Widescreen Edition, Helen, Smoke.

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By Athina Simonidou