NEW YORK – by Ashley Judd new film is his most personal to date.
The actress/activist plays a small but pivotal role as herself in the new drama “She Said” (in theaters November 18), which details the exhaustive work of journalists to help expose Harvey Weinstein, a former Hollywood mogul and convicted sex offender. Judd, 54, was one of a handful of women who ran for The New York Times in 2017 accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
Judd appears at the start of the film, as she tells reporter Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) that she was sexually harassed by Weinstein while filming “Kiss the Girls” in 1997. Later, she emotionally agrees to to be named in the NYT article, helping to spark a tidal wave of other survivors sharing their stories publicly.
Judd was greeted with a standing ovation at the world premiere of ‘She Said’ Thursday at the New York Film Festival, where she was joined by other Weinstein accusers, who stood and hugged after the projection.
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“First of all, I just want to say thank you to my sisters and thank them for their courage,” Judd said during a Q&A after the screening, her voice cracking as she paid tribute to his late mother, country singer Naomi Judd, who died in April. “I just remember when I was talking about it with my mom, she was like, ‘Oh, go get them, honey’. … She was just captivated by my audacity (to speak), as I heard it later from our friends.”
Judd recalled how New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof initially reached out to her to speak to Kantor, describing how “it was very easy for me to tell this story. … It was very empowering when someone wanted to finally listen and do something about And the Movie Was the Next Step.
“It’s so important to be in our truth and to have our righteousness in our story,” she said. “So it was a very simple thing for me to do and I was very grateful for the opportunity.”
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The actress was joined on stage by Kazan and Carey Mulligan, who said she was “terrified” to play journalist Megan Twohey. Together, Kantor and Twohey broke the story of Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse allegations, winning a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation. The film is adapted from their 2019 non-fiction book of the same name, which traces their process of locating and interviewing accusers such as Judd.
Judd and Kazan ended Thursday’s Q&A by praising the positive changes they’ve seen in Hollywood since the #MeToo movement started. These include intimacy coordinators on TV and movie sets, as well as sexual harassment hotlines where cast and crew members can report abuse.
On a more personal level, “I reframed the experiences I had to understand that it was actually bullying and assault, something I had previously downplayed,” Judd said. Kantor and Twohey’s reporting, coupled with the work of #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, “has empowered women’s consciousness to transform, set boundaries and reclaim their autonomy.”
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