‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Talks Filming Pivotal Scene of ‘Homecoming’

by Lauren Boisvert

The holidays are winding down, but for anyone still looking to cling to the Christmas spirit, there are Judy Norton’s behind-the-scenes looks at “The Homecoming,” the Christmas-themed pilot film that launched “The Waltons.” Recently, Norton took to her YouTube channel to share her experiences from filming the movie.

Norton explains a pivotal scene between Olivia and John-Boy; John-Boy tells his mother what he wants to do with his life. He’s fretting over the fact that he may have to give up his dreams.

“Another stunning scene between Patricia Neal and Richard Thomas,” Norton starts. “And I found it just heartbreaking because when he finally is talking to his mama and revealing what’s going on in his life and his concerns, and his dreams, and his sense that he already feels like he’s already going to have to give up on these dreams to become a writer. That if things had been different, and there hadn’t been a Depression, that maybe he would have been able to do something with his life. And a mother whose heart is breaking to want to give her son his heart’s desire; wanting to support him but not necessarily knowing how.”

Behind the Camera

Judy Norton also describes how the scene itself was shot, with the camera behind Neal and Thomas. She explains that it was “a scene that was done in predominantly one shot because of the way the actors were placed. They didn’t worry all the time about being in front-on closeups.”

Norton continues by adding: “They allowed the camera to capture it from the side of the two actors and just let the scene play out without chopping it up a lot with extra editing.”

She goes on to say that the one-shot scene was perfect for the show. Scenes aren’t usually shot like that anymore. In a way, the simple shot mirrors the humble living situation of the Waltons.

Judy Norton Describes Scene Used to Audition for ‘The Homecoming’

In her previous behind the scenes video of “The Homecoming,” Judy Norton explained which scene the producers used for auditions.

“The walnut cracking scene,” Norton began. She showed the scene in the video, with all the kids sitting around a bowl of walnuts, cracking them. Norton continued, “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.”

Judy Norton also explained a trick the camera operators used when filming her as Mary Ellen. “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.”