In Judy Norton’s recent behind-the-scenes look at “The Waltons” original “Homecoming” movie, she shared some insight into the casting process. This included which scene they used to audition and some details into filming
“The walnut cracking scene,” Norton starts. She shares a clip of all the kids sitting around a bowl of walnuts, cracking away. “This was the scene that we used when we auditioned for ‘The Homecoming’ […] they brought in a group of six children at a time and had us read this scene together […] so I was very familiar with this scene when we shot it.”
Norton goes on to share some behind-the-scenes details about her role in the walnut cracking scene. “An interesting thing that I recall,” she started, “was at the point where Mary Ellen jumps up and starts circling around very indignant and stomping around; talking about how small Walton’s Mountain is, and it’s just a tiny speck. All of that when they were shooting it where you can see me circling […] when they went in for the close-up, because it was harder for the camera to turn quickly, they asked me to really slow down. Which felt very awkward to me at the time.”
Judy Norton mentions that she wanted to argue with that direction. “But of course, I did it because that was the direction I was being given,” she says. Norton says that watching the scene back, the direction makes perfect sense. The camera wouldn’t have been able to keep up with her and it would’ve looked bizarre. “Those were early lessons that I learned as an actor,” she says.
Judy Norton Talks About How ‘Homecoming’ Created a Sense of the Early 1900s
In her video, Judy Norton discusses the set design and mood of the film, which in turn reflected the era of the early 1900s in ways that felt believable.
“I loved the way they really created the era in this original movie,” Norton starts. “From the cinematography, which had a sort of darker, grittier feel to it, as if it really was hard times. Even more so than during the series, and I’m sure that was intentional.”
Additionally, Judy Norton shares a scene where the family is eating lunch together: vegetable soup out of plain wooden bowls. “It’s a very simple meal which would be, I’m sure, very appropriate for that time period, and probably the type of lunch that Earl Hamner’s real family had during the time that he was growing up.”
Earl Hamner did base “The Waltons” on his childhood; he was born in 1923, and was 10 years old at the time “The Waltons” was supposed to be set. It’s entirely possible that Hamner took elements from his own life, like the vegetable soup, and superimposed them onto “The Waltons” to recreate that time.