Ashley Judd, the star of such films as Heat and A Time to Kill has recently signed to star in the ABC thriller, Missing.

Judd will portray Becca Winstone, a woman traveling to Europe to uncover the mystery of her son’s disappearance while on a summer internship in Italy. Instead of bumbling her way through Europe, looking for clues, Judd’s character is actually a former CIA agent, ready to use her unique talents to bring her son home alive.

While the combination of plot elements seems ripped straight from the Liam Neeson blockbuster Taken, the show has yet to reveal whether Judd’s character is the kind of take-no-prisoners butt-kicker that Neeson was, or more of the dogged investigator Jack Lemmon played in the 1982 Costa-Gravas film of the same name. As there will be the expectation for both action and intrigue in the series, it is likely that Judd’s portrayal will become an amalgam of the two: a mother who is both punchy and tactful, depending on needs of the situation.

Missing, from screenwriter Greg Poirier (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), was intended to be a 10-episode summer program, but the addition of Judd is such an important one the show has now transformed into a full-fledged series. Production has shifted into high gear so that the program can be ready for a complete season order, and it will likely debut sometime this fall.

Not only does the addition of Judd elevate the show from a potentially interesting summer program to must-watch series, it grants the show a talented actress capable of handling the emotional ranges she may be asked to portray. Judd has a knack for playing women capable of immense composure in tough situations – just watch her goodbye to Val Kilmer in Heat and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Is ‘Missing’ just ‘Taken’ without Liam Neeson?

Does this mean we will be seeing Judd joining the ranks of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and, more recently, Angelina Jolie in Salt, as a strong woman kicking-butt and taking names in a typically male-dominated genre? At this point it’s purely speculative that Missing will have an action aspect, but the combination of CIA-trained mother and the guy who brought us National Treasure seems to suggest that the audience will be treated to more than a couple high-octane sequences. I, for one, could certainly stand to see Ms. Judd engage in some international fisticuffs on a weekly basis.

Steve Shill, a recent Emmy winner for his work on the Showtime series Dexter, will direct the pilot and several of the series’ episodes, as well as executive produce the program alongside Poirier with Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo.

Look for Missing to debut sometime this fall on ABC.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter