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.