Ashley Judd for “High Crimes”

Beautiful and elegant, Ashley Judd is sporting a large diamond ring, symbol of her recent marriage to racing car driver Dario Franchitti in a fairy tale ceremony in Scotland at Skibo Castle in Edinburgh, the same castle that hosted Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie a year earlier.

Judd is cautious about revealing more about the affair and reticent to discuss her private life. “Both my husband and I give a lot of ourselves in what we do because that is our public lives; but in my private life, I have an intrinsic right to be left alone,” Judd insists with a light smile.Judd further adds that she is still trying to discover where the line goes between public and private. “It’s hard but I try to do it,” she said. “The right question is, do I get irritated while I try to retain my privacy? I have a picture from the film festival at Deauville, where ‘Kiss the Girls’ was premiering in Europe, and there’s this phalanx of photographers in a circle and I’m standing there, and I wrote, ‘abandon all ye who have hope who enter here.’ I have a responsibility to nurture and shepherd my talent and when I’m living the parts of my life not related to that I feel I have the right to be left alone.

Her sister Wynonna disagrees with her. “She said that lack of privacy comes with the whole kit and caboodle and it’s not open to negotiation.” To further exemplify her point, Judd recalls an incident which turned her right off the whole celebrity thing. “If I’m in the toilet in an airport bathroom I don’t think it’s appropriate to slide a pad and pencil under the stall. If I’m in Spago and having a hysterical time with girlfriends, and if I’m with Gloria Steinem, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a script pitched to me – to be told if I don’t do this my whole career will be wasted. There is a boundary between public and private.”

However, Judd does reluctantly elaborate on some aspects of her wedding while denying other media accounts of the affair. “Dario wore a beautiful tartan to our wedding and Armani made my dress. Everything else I’ve read is inaccurate,” including the rumours of 300 celebrity guests that were apparently flown in from all over the world, and the $3-million cost, not to mention the last-minute change of venue from Quaint Croick Church. “We chose Skibo Castle because it’s a private club to which we belong and because Dario is Scottish.” She won’t elaborate on the carats of her stunning ring, except to say that it is “an antique stone in a specially designed setting. My husband organized everything. The setting is called a cushion and it makes the stone look bigger than it actually is,” she modestly adds.

Her private life is on track, as is her professional life, with a movie career that is humming along quite nicely, thank you very much. In her latest, High Crimes, Judd is in familiar territory, so it appears on the surface, in distress yet again, re-teaming with her ‘Kiss the Girls’ co-star Morgan Freeman. This time around, Judd plays high-powered San Francisco lawyer Claire Kubik who is married to a sweet woodworker (Jim Caviezel) and living in a dreamy home in the woods. However, life takes a nasty turn when her husband is arrested and tried – by the military – for alleged murders of women and children in a clandestine South American operation. Claire sets off to defend her husband as his civilian lawyer. To research the role, Judd sought the real-life equivalent of her character.

“I hooked up with a woman in the Bay Area [San Francisco] who was definitely on the fast track and had her firm by the tail,” she said. “It was important for me to know this type of woman exists; I’m not really around people like that. She was genuine and very earnest, which I like. Intensity smacks to me of something slightly off-kilter but her earnestness was very sweet.” One of the major criticisms of the film is regarding the likelihood of a civilian serving on a military court-martial, but Judd defends that facet of the film. “We had an impeccable adviser who was there; everything you see in the courtroom scenes is legit.”

The 34-year old star, whose earlier credits include the low-budget Ruby in Paradise and Smoke, has recently forged a career in which she has played a plethora of strong women in extraordinary circumstances. They include characters in such films as Bruce Beresford’s “Double Jeopardy,”, and “Kiss the Girls,” in which she is a serial killer’s object of desire. She also has played a possible serial killer in “Eye of the Beholder” with Ewan McGregor and starred opposite Hugh Jackman in the romantic comedy “Someone Like You.” Asked to discuss a possible correlation to the women she’s played, Ashley is rather dismissive of the notion. “It’s interesting. In Jodie Foster’s Premiere Magazine article, (she) knew the links between the various characters she has played, what links them thematically. People say that to me and I think what unites all my characters is that they are hurt; it’s most accurate to say I play characters that are hurt but are responding to their environment.”

Judd is having the time of her life and remains careful to balance her work and marriage. On the delicately asked question of children, Judd coyly remarks that “it’s for God to know and for us to find out. You also add to that the fact you can never take anything for granted.” As for whether or not she is likely to join her husband’s racing car crew any time soon, that’s not necessarily on her immediate horizon. “I can’t change a tire, but I can keep the crew entertained while THEY change the tires.”

What finally remains important at present is enjoying all that is right with her life. “It’s so wrong to yearn so much, that you miss the joy of what you’re living. That’s definitely something I’ve learned and am willing to share.” At the same time, the beautiful actress is not giving too much away.