Making “Missing”: behind the scenes reflections on the pilot episode

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Ashley Judd as Becca in the ABC Series Missing

Missing premieres in exactly 8 days! The trailer is being shown in movie theaters; the commercials are playing on ABC, and friends in Los Angeles are sending me photographs of giant billboards of me as “Becca.” The anticipation and excitement is building.

Herein is an insider’s look, directly from me, about the pilot episode. Once Missing airs, I will write a little about each upcoming episode. The notes won’t be so much about plot, but rather, my personal reflections on filming and maybe even some of the adventures I was having off the set.

I traveled to Prague to begin filming Missing on the first Saturday in May. Some of you will recognize that special day as when the Kentucky Derby is run. Friends at Churchill Downs kept texting me, so hoping I could magically make the Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports. But Buttermilk, Shug, and I were already beginning the mental, emotional, and physical journey of starting the show. We did have a long layover, so I unrolled my yoga mat in a conference room at an airport to do some restorative yoga while I watched Animal Kingdom take the Garland of Roses.

Yoga is how I prepared for Missing, and the benefits went well beyond the physical fitness I knew both playing Becca and enduring a grueling four-and-a-half month shoot would require. I had begun practicing in earnest three weeks before the journey to Eastern Europe. All That Is Bitter and Sweet had been released, and with it came an exciting national press tour and speaking engagements at venerable venues such as the New York Public Library. So the three-week yoga retreat I created for myself was good for me on many levels. It was a chance to be at home in a deeply peaceful way; to continue to send my book out into the world with the intention of service and healing, and fill within me deep reservoirs of soothing calmness and rest.

My body loves yoga, and after two years of sitting down (for graduate school and then compiling the book from over eight hundred pages of diaries I have kept over six years while visiting grassroots empowerment programs in thirteen countries), it took hardly any time at all for my strength, flexibility and power to come back. Thank goodness!

One thing to which I genuinely looked forward was beginning to connect with my cast. Of course, having Cliff Curtis,(“Dax”) was a coup. I was familiar with his exquisite acting in sensitive, profound movies like “Whale Rider,” and have always been knocked out by his dexterity with different characters, in films such as playing Pablo Escobar in “Blow.” He was, as they say, a no-brainer. Casting my son, “Michael,” was tricker. The role is so good, we had the crème de la crème of young actors vying for the part. We had that wonderful experience, though, when we saw Nick Everson’s screen test; we knew he was “the one.” He was so relaxed, so not bothered with trying to impress, and critically, had in equal measure vulnerability and conviction. He played the relationship with his mother naturally, and the sense of history (a dad who died in a tragic explosion, played by Sean Bean), was palpable, even in a sterile room at ABC. Filming was beginning soon, but we were never nervous about holding out for the perfect actor. In Nick, we had our “Michael.”

When I landed in Prague, I was immediately embraced by the warmth and hospitality of the Czech people, and pitched into the beautiful look of their fine capital. I stayed at hotel that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a former connect built in the 15h Century, while I began to look for a suitable home for the dogs, cats, Dario, and me. I instantly appreciated the Czechs’ love of animals; the dogs were cooed over wherever we went, and I knew they, too, would have a memorable experience filming Missing.

For more peeks at behinds the scenes thoughts please re-visit my web site soon. Click here to read press coverage and don’t forget, Missing airs on Thursdays, 8 pm EST, beginning 15 March on ABC.