Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford to play Oscar winner Judy Holliday in biopic ‘Smart Blonde’

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Annaleigh Ashford

Stage and screen performer Annaleigh Ashford, who won a Tony Award in 2015 for “You Can’t Take It With You” and appeared in the Golden Globe-winning limited television series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” will star in “Smart Blonde,” a timely movie about Oscar-winning actress Judy Holliday.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Gene Kirkwood, a producer on the original “Rocky” who more recently produced HBO’s four-part Dr. Dre-Jimmy Iovine docuseries “The Defiant Ones,” is producing the biopic.

The film will focus on Holliday, a nightclub singer who in her early acting career in the 1940s fought back against the sexual advances of studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck during her time as a player at Fox. She later went on to star on Broadway in “Born Yesterday,” then won the Best Actress Oscar for George Cukor’s big-screen adaptation.

But Holliday ultimately paid the price for her outspoken ways: She was eventually blacklisted in Hollywood as a communist. She died of breast cancer in 1965 at age 43.

“Judy Holiday’s story is one for the ages and yet so relatable within the context of today’s headlines,” Kirkwood said, per Deadline.

Ashford recently wrapped shooting on the fact-based comedy/drama film “Bad Education” opposite Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney and next appears in “Unbelievable,” the Netflix limited series starring Merritt Wever, Toni Collette and Kaitlyn Dever.

Ashford’s screen credits also include the TV series “Masters of Sex,” the TV musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” and the upcoming movie “American Reject.” On stage, she starred with Jake Gyllenhaal in a buzzy 2017 Broadway revival of “Sunday in the Park with George.”


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