Ave Maria Mulligan, the town’s self-proclaimed spinster, has resigned herself to a quiet life of singlehood and being useful. She works in her family’s pharmacy, delivers the prescriptions herself, and directs the town’s annual outdoor drama—until one day she learns of a long-buried family secret that changes the course of her life forever.
ASHLEY JUDD is an eighth-generation Eastern Kentuckian. She first proved her acting abilities as Ruby Lee Gissing in director Victor Nunez’s internationally acclaimed Ruby in Paradise, her feature-film debut. A proven box-office draw and the recipient of major acting awards worldwide, Judd has demonstrated her talents across a range of genres and media.
Earlier in 2015 Judd was seen in Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent franchise based on Veronica Roth’s New York Times bestselling trilogy. Judd reprised her role as Natalie Prior, the mother of series lead Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley). Judd is currently filming the Will Wallace drama Trafficked, starring alongside Anne Archer and Brian Thompson.
Previously, Judd appeared alongside Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson in Dolphin Tale 2, the sequel to 2011’s hit family film Dolphin Tale, reprising her role as Lorraine Nelson. In 2012 she starred in the ABC miniseries “Missing” as an ex-CIA agent who discovers that her son has disappeared while studying abroad. Her performance earned Judd a Primetime Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
In 2011 Judd co-starred with Patrick Dempsey and Tim Blake Nelson in Rob Minkoff’s independent film Flypaper, portraying a bank teller caught in the middle of two simultaneous robberies. In 2010 she co-starred with Dwayne Johnson in the family film Tooth Fairy. The previous year Judd starred in the Sundance Film Festival premiere, Helen.
Judd starred in the feature film Come Early Morning in 2006, written and directed by actress Joey Lauren Adams. That same year she played a lonely, paranoid and traumatized recluse in the William Friedkin film Bug, written by Tracy Letts and based on his play of the same name. The film won the International Press Award at Cannes in 2006 and Judd’s performance generated considerable critical acclaim. In 2004 Judd delivered a heartfelt, emotional performance as socialite Linda Lee Porter in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, earning a Golden Globe Award® nomination. The same year, Judd starred in Twisted for director Philip Kaufman.
Other film credits include Julie Taymor’s biopic Frida, starring Salma Hayek; Callie Khouri’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, alongside Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Smith and James Garner; Carl Franklin’s High Crimes, with Morgan Freeman; Tony Goldwyn’s Someone Like You…, opposite Greg Kinnear and Hugh Jackman; Where the Heart Is, with Natalie Portman; Bruce Beresford’s box-office success Double Jeopardy, opposite Tommy Lee Jones; Eye of the Beholder, with Ewan McGregor; Simon Birch, based on the John Irving novel A Prayer for Owen Meany; Kiss the Girls, with Morgan Freeman; The Locusts, opposite Vince Vaughn and Kate Capshaw; Michael Mann’s Heat, alongside Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer; Joel Schumacher’s A Time to Kill, opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey; and John McNaughton’s Normal Life, with Luke Perry.
On the small screen, Judd appeared in HBO’s “Norma Jean & Marilyn,” earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal of Norma Jean Dougherty.
Judd’s stage credits include a six-month run in the leading role of Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” produced by Bill Kenwright and directed by Anthony Page. She made her debut theater performance in the Naked Angels production of “Busted,” directed by Timothy Hutton before going on to star on Broadway in William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Picnic,” at the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Judd is a member of the board of directors for PSI (Population Services International), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit operating in more than 65 countries. With programs in malaria, reproductive health, child survival and HIV, PSI promotes products, services and healthy behavior that enable low-income and vulnerable people to lead healthier lives.
Judd joined PSI as a board member in 2004 after serving as global ambassador for PSI’s HIV education and prevention program, YouthAIDS. She has visited PSI programs in Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Kenya, South Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, India, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In her work, she witnesses the lives of the exploited and poor to help educate the world about the reality of global poverty and bring solutions to the devastating problems of social injustice and gender inequality. Judd has visited legislators on Capitol Hill, addressed the General Assembly of the U.N. on human trafficking, spoken at the National Press Club, and testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the protection of vulnerable women from violence, sexual abuse and HIV. Most recently, she served as an expert panelist at the Clinton Global Initiative, where she discussed the issue of safe water and the empowerment of girls in the developing world.
Judd appeared as the focus of a National Geographic documentary featuring her travels to India, part of her ongoing commitment as global ambassador for YouthAIDS. The documentary aired on World AIDS Day. A similar documentary aired on The Learning Channel that featured Judd’s travels to Central America with friend, colleague, actor, feminist and human-rights activist Salma Hayek.
Judd is also a spokesperson for the organizations Defenders for Wildlife and the Sierra Club, providing her time and voice to advocate against practices of aerial wolf hunting and mountaintop-removal coal mining.
Judd was a Phi Beta Kappa nominee and honors student at the University of Kentucky with a major in French and four minors. She studied the Meisner technique for acting when she first went to Hollywood. In 2010 she received her mid-career master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Judd enjoys a quiet, rural life in Tennessee with her beloved pets.
Jack MacChesney, spends his days working in the coalmines and looking after his mama. To resident spinster Ave Maria Mulligan, he’s the Gary Cooper of Big Stone Gap—a strong, silent and sincere coal miner she’s known her whole life. A resigned bachelor himself, “Jack Mac” learns in the most unexpected ways that perhaps life and love haven’t passed him by quite yet.
PATRICK WILSON has proven his versatile talents with an impressive array of roles in films such as The Phantom of the Opera, Hard Candy, Little Children, Watchmen, Insidious, Morning Glory, Young Adult and The Conjuring.
Wilson began his career on the stage and has been twice nominated for the Tony Award® for “The Full Monty” (2001) and “Oklahoma” (2002). He has also starred on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”
On the small screen, Wilson was nominated for his work in HBO’s Emmy-winning miniseries “Angels in America” and drew acclaim for his pitch-perfect performance in an episode of HBO’s “Girls.”
Fleeta Mullins, is Ave Maria Mulligan’s right hand at Mutual’s Pharmacy—an unapologetic, no-nonsense, chain-smoking workingwoman who speaks the plain truth with laser wit. She’s a staple of the Big Stone Gap community and an indispensable friend to Ave Maria, especially when an unforeseen turn of events sends Ave’s life into a whirlwind.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG (Fleeta Mullins) has been a staple of morning television since 2007 as a co-host of ABC’s “The View” and remains one of Hollywood’s most prolific and best-loved icons. She is one of an elite group of artists who have won the Emmy, Grammy®, Oscar® and Tony. Goldberg won a Daytime Emmy as host of AMC’s “Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel” (2002) and another for “The View” (2009). Goldberg’s Grammy came for her comedy album “Whoopi Goldberg” (1985) and she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (1991). The Tony came in 2002, when she served as a producer on “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Since her Academy Award®-nominated debut performance in The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg’s film version of Alice Walker’s novel, Goldberg has built a thriving film career. She has appeared in such films as Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Clara’s Heart, The Long Walk Home, Soapdish, The Player, Sarafina!, Sister Act, Made in America, Corrina, Corrina, Boys on the Side, Eddie, The Associate, Ghosts of Mississippi, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Girl, Interrupted, Kingdom Come, Rat Race and A Little Bit of Heaven.
Theodore Tipton is the natural choice when it comes to orchestrating movie star Elizabeth Taylor’s historic visit to Big Stone Gap. Between that, starring in the Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama, and treading new romantic ground with his best friend, Ave Maria, Theodore’s life is an extravagant production of its own.
JOHN BENJAMIN HICKEY has been widely recognized for his work in television, earning an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Sean Tolkey in Showtime’s “The Big C.” He currently stars in “Manhattan” on WGN America.
Hickey’s film work includes roles in Flightplan, Flags of Our Fathers, Freedom Writers, Then She Found Me, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Pitch Perfect. Hickey will next be seen opposite Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford in Truth, James Vanderbilt’s directorial debut. He recently wrapped production on the indie Tallulah, with Ellen Page, Zachary Quinto and Allison Janney.
Hickey originated the role of Arthur in Terrence McNally’s Broadway play “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and played Clifford Bradshaw in the 1998 revival of “Cabaret,” which won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. In 2011, he earned a Tony for his work in the revival of “The Normal Heart.” He will next be seen this fall at the Lincoln Center starring in Peter Parnell’s new play “Dada Woof, Papa Hot,” directed by Scott Ellis.
Sweet Sue Tinsley, is the saber-toothed divorcée of Big Stone Gap and the prettiest girl in town since her high-school days. A mother of two, the arm candy of coalminer Jack MacChesney, and president of The Foxes, Sweet Sue’s got popularity down to a science.
JANE KRAKOWSKI is most often recognized for her role as Jenna Maroney on NBC’s Emmy-winning comedy “30 Rock.” Krakowski was honored with four Emmy nominations for her work on the show and shared in its 2009 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with additional nominations in that category in 2013 and 2014.
The actress was first introduced to the TV mainstream with her Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Elaine Vassal on the Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning series “Ally McBeal.” Her guest-starring appearances have included iconic shows such as “Modern Family,” “The Simpsons,” “American Dad!” and “Sesame Street.”
Krakowski recently reteamed with her “30 Rock” collaborators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock for the Emmy-nominated “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix. Her role as Jacqueline Voorhees earned her a 2015 Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
After making her big-screen debut as Cousin Vickie in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Krakowski has appeared in such films as Alfie, Pretty Persuasion, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant and Adult Beginners. More recently, she was seen in the summer blockbuster Pixels.
Krakowski received the 2003 Tony Award for her portrayal of Carla in the Broadway musical “Nine,” opposite Antonio Banderas. Her performance also earned her a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award. She earned her first Tony nomination for her work in the original Broadway production of “Grand Hotel.”
Other Broadway credits include “Company,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Tartuffe” and “Starlight Express.” Krakowski won an Olivier Award while starring in “Guys and Dolls” with Ewan McGregor in London’s West End. She also starred in the Encores! revival of “Damn Yankees,” opposite Sean Hayes. In the spring of 2016 Krakowski will join an all-star cast in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s upcoming Broadway production of “She Loves Me.”
Iva Lou Wade, is Big Stone Gap’s bombshell Bookmobile librarian with a penchant for the ancient art of Chinese face-reading. When she’s not recommending books to the locals, selling out the Outdoor Drama, or giving romantic advice to resident spinster Ave Maria, she’s fielding suitors left and right herself—until she meets one Mr. Lyle Makin
JENNA ELFMAN received a Golden Globe Award, three Emmy nominations and two TV Guide Awards for her beloved portrayal of Dharma in the hit television series “Dharma and Greg.” Her film credits include Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis; Keeping the Faith, opposite Ben Stiller and Edward Norton; the cult classic Can’t Hardly Wait, alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt and a host of others; and Ron Howard’s Edtv, opposite Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
In 2014 Elfman starred in NBC’s comedy “Growing Up Fisher,” which came on the heels of “1600 Penn” and critically acclaimed guest appearances on “Shameless,” “The Mindy Project” and the final season of the award-winning drama “Damages.”
Spec Broadwater is the first man to call in a crisis. He’s also one of Ave Maria’s most trusted allies and a key player when her world is turned upside down by a startling revelation about her family.
ANTHONY LAPAGLIA (Spec Broadwater) is best known for playing FBI agent Jack Malone for seven seasons on the CBS drama “Without a Trace,” or perhaps for his recurring role as Simon Moon on NBC’s long-running comedy “Frasier.” LaPaglia has been nominated three times for the Emmy Award, winning once for “Frasier.”
LaPaglia has starred in films in both the U.S. and his native Australia. He was the recipient of the 2014 Orry-Kelly Award, which is given to Australians who have contributed to the success of fellow Australians in the film industry. His film credits include Trees Lounge, Summer of Sam, Sweet and Lowdown, Lantana (for which he earned a Australian Film Institute Award), Winter Solstice and Balibo (Australian Film Institute Award).
An accomplished stage actor, LaPaglia has appeared in the Broadway revivals of “A View from the Bridge” (for which he earned a Tony Award), “The Rose Tattoo” and “Lend Me a Tenor.”
An avid cyclist and photographer, LaPaglia rode all over Southwest Virginia when he wasn’t needed on set for “Without a Trace.” He shared online the photos and short films he shot along the way.