Thursday, July 01, 2004

Interview with Ashley Judd about "De-Lovely"

NM: What drew you to the role of Linda Porter, the wife of songwriter Cole

AJ: I was attracted to playing someone really rich! And I thought the locations
would be nice [laughs]...No, that wasn't really it. What drew me to the
role was the project as a whole. I got all Hermes-ed up to go meet with
Irwin Winkler and I could see that he would create a safe and lovely environment
to work in. I also wanted to try taking a supporting role and see if it
would help my performance to have some breaks rather than being on screen
every day.

NM: How did you prepare to play the role of a real-life character?
AJ: I never bothered to watch the Cary Grant film ["Night and Day," the
highly fictionalized 1946 biopic with Alexis Smith as Linda Porter] just
like I never bother to read the junk about my family. But I did read the
biographies. Kevin [Kline, who plays Porter] did an immense amount of research
and it really shows in the film, as when he tells the performers that he
can't hear the consonants in the song. Porter really did that.

NM: You get to wear some magnificent clothes in the film. What was that

AJ: They were so comfortable! Except for the shoes. They were all Armani,
taken from recent archives with period touches, which really shows the timelessness
and versatility of his work. Simple, elegant, beautifully made, a lot of
jewelry. Someone once said that Linda Porter's favorite department store
was [jeweler] Van Cleef & Arpels!

NM: What was Irwin Winkler's style as a director?
AJ: "Do it in a take!" We had a low budget, and he wanted to get everything
done in one take. He works with a lot of poise and equanimity, a real old
school gentleman, with his family all around him, which I admire very much.

NM: Were you a Cole Porter fan before the movie?
AJ: I always loved him and knew he was gorgeous and chic, but did not know
how many of the wonderful old songs were his.

NM: Do you have a favorite?
AJ: The one from "Kiss Me Kate" called "So in Love." It kills me! If I
could hear my sister [country star Wynonna Judd] sing that, wouldn't it
be great? I heard that Cole Porter called Frank Sinatra about the way he
sang "Under My Skin" and said, "I hear you like my music. Why don't you
play it the way I wrote it?" Can you imagine saying that to Sinatra?

NM: What's the best advice you ever got about acting?
AJ: Don't do it for the money!

NM: The movie is really about the relationship between Cole Porter, a gay
man, and the woman who was his best friend and muse. How would you characterize
their connection?

AJ: They had in common an appetite for life and a sense of how to move through
this world. She was very protective of him and a world-class enabler. She
created a workspace for him that was a prototype minimalist room, all white
walls and smoked glass that let in light but did not let him see out to
get distracted -- except for one space left just to let him look out into
the courtyard at a tree.
They had a very nurturing and sustaining marrige for more than 30
years. He described their intimacy as stunning. People want to be known
and authentically accepted for who they are, and that can surpass sex.
He never considered a song finished until he had her approval.

NM: There is a touching scene in the movie where he presents her with a
rose named in her honor. Is there really a Linda Porter rose?

AJ: Yes, there is! I am a dedicated rosarian and have searched the internet
to find one, but haven't been able to yet. I'm hoping that the movie will
help me find someone who has it.

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