Actress and choreographer Julianne Hough recently opened up about being mentally and physically abused as a child, and says she fought hard for a part in the new Nicholas Sparks movie because she knew she could relate to the character.
At the tender age of ten, Hough was awarded a scholarship to study dance in London, and though her older brother Derek was there with her, she had no adult caregiver to watch over her. The result was a string of abuse that began in part because she was so young but looked much older.
"I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer," Hough said. "I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy facade because that was my job and my life. But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love."
Though she won't go into detail about what happened or who was responsible for the abuse--Hough says she has moved on and forgiven her tormentors--her past may have helped her develop a crucial emotional acting range, which won her a part in her new film, "Safe Haven".
"I had a perception that she was just a very light and charming girl that might not have the emotional range," director Lasse Hallstrom said.
But co-star Josh Duhamel disagreed and persuaded the director to take another look.
"I told Lasse, 'There is a sadness in that room, something more complicated that the character needed to have. And that's what she has,'" Duhamel said.
The film, which is based on a Nicholas Sparks book, centers on a woman who falls in love with a widower after escaping an abusive relationship.