NICE JUDDS; ASHLEY JUDD ON LIFE IN THE FAST LANE AND HER LATEST FILM. I learned about stardom at an early age. It taught me how to handle my own celebrity.
She has described herself as an "intellectual pin-up", but it is a surprise to learn that Kentucky actress Ashley Judd - a feminist and a French graduate to boot - is also a fan of Celtic football club. The reason, however, is simple - her Scottish-born racing car driver husband Dario Franchitti.
Ashley, whose new film Twisted is out today, married the 31-year-old multi-millionaire, who drives in America's Indy Racing League, three years ago. Since then, she has made regular appearances at Celtic's Parkhead ground. But home for the couple is many miles from Glasgow on a 100-year-old farm near Nashville, Tennessee.
It's an appropriate location because Ashley's life is the stuff of country and western legend. Her childhood was spent touring America with her mother, country singer Naomi, in a decrepit station wagon.
But it all changed in 1983 when her mother and sister Wynonna secured a record deal as The Judds. They then became the most successful country duo of all time with 14 No 1s in the next five years. While her sister was a star, Ashley earned pocket money by cleaning the tour bus.
After university, Ashley took her first steps into acting with appearances in the Star Trek TV series.
"I learned about stardom and hard work at an early age,'' Ashley, 36, says. "It taught me how to handle my own celebrity. I try to inoculate myself against the disease of self-importance."
After hits with Heat (1995), A Time To Kill (1996) and Kiss The Girls (1997), Ashley dated a string of high-profile stars including Robert De Niro and Michael Bolton before she met her future husband at a wedding reception in 1999.
But although she attends races, she has no plans to join Dario's pit crew. "I can't change a tyre," she laughs, "but I can keep the others entertained while they do the changing.''
Ashley is much more at home in the film world and Twisted, in which she co-stars with Andy Garcia and Samuel L Jackson, is a tense thriller. She plays Jessica Shepard, a female police officer whose father was a serial killer. While investigating a murder, she finds herself at the centre of her own investigation when her former lovers start dying around her at a furious pace. Judd says she was drawn to the project because of the dark plot-line.
"I liked the hook of this movie where I am an inspector and she's her own best suspect," Ashley says. "I keep blacking out and I might be doing stuff behind my own back, so I thought that was a really clever twist.
"To get into the role I shadowed a great inspector in San Francisco. She told me she felt like she had two personalities. She did her mothering at home, but when she put her uniform on at the police department, that was her putting on another persona."
Ashley enjoys stretching her wings. She is currently enjoying rave reviews in a new Broadway production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, even though her co-star Ned Beatty criticised her performance in an interview. The experience has dragged Ashley from her idyllic life in Tennessee to New Jersey, but she enjoys the relaxing nature of one performance a day.
"Films are chaos," she says. "They're so unpredictable, so draining of your time where your average day is 12 hours. Whereas with a play, I get to tell the whole story every single day and it takes three hours.
"I've had time to get tons of rest and go for walks in the woods and I've had 57 house guests since I've been here with more coming the weekend after next. It's been such a beautiful experience."
l Twisted is out today.
FOOTBALL MAD: Ashley is a Celtic fan; Picture: MARK CHILVERS; HOME AND AWAY: With husband Dario (top) and in Twisted with Andy Garcia; STAR TRIO: Ashley, Naomi and Wynonna