In her recent “Behind the Scenes of The Waltons” segment on YouTube, Judy Norton spoke to her modern counterpart, Marcelle LeBlanc; Mary Ellen in “The Waltons” remake. They spoke first about bringing “The Waltons” to a new generation of viewers. Then, about the fact that the producers didn’t allow the new cast to watch the original series.
Norton asks LeBlanc if she ever saw the original series before they cast her. LeBlanc answers, “When I was cast as Mary Ellen, I was like, ‘oh, well I’m going to go watch [‘The Waltons’] now.’ And then our first rehearsal the creative team sat us down and was like, ‘If you have not already, do not watch the original Homecoming or the original series.'”
She goes on to say that the request confused the cast; why wouldn’t they watch the original series? The creative team told them, “‘When we are done filming, we want you to go back and watch it but while we are making it we want to make sure you are preserving as much of your own interpretations of these characters in this storyline as possible.'”
“Because it was so iconic it was so easy for us to get in our heads,” LeBlanc continues. “I know that going into filming there was a lot of pressure that I had put on myself because I was like, we are recreating something that is so iconic that so many people know. I want to do that best that I can.”
Marcelle LeBlanc on Starring in ‘The Waltons’ Remake
LeBlanc says that she was going to watch the show to get a sense for Mary Ellen, to be able to do her best, but “I know now, being able to watch it after, I know that if I had watched it […] I would have gotten so in my head.”
LeBlanc also had great praise for Judy Norton. She says, “I know that that there is no way that I will be able to play Mary Ellen the way that you played Mary Ellen. I’ve found ways that I could bring my own interpretation of her into the role.”
Norton asks if LeBlanc watched “Homecoming” after filming. LeBlanc replies, “I did, and I loved it. Oh my goodness, it’s the sweetest movie. There’s so much about it that was needed then and is so needed now. I think that it’s so special that whether it’s the original ‘Homecoming’ or our ‘Homecoming’ there is a movie that families can sit down together and watch together as a whole family, and find characters that everybody can identify with.”
“The Waltons” is definitely a series that brought people together. It offered a lot of the family togetherness that the world needed at the time. Today, it still brings that feeling for those who watch it.