‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Talks One Scene That Was Miserable in ‘Homecoming’

by Lauren Boisvert

Judy Norton recently shared that “The Waltons” was big on realism; that includes standing around in the snow for hours on end. Norton revealed in her behind-the-scenes look at “The Homecoming” that there was a scene that was absolutely miserable to shoot.

“This was another scene shot in Jackson Hole, Wyoming,” she started, referring to a scene with the missionary. She continued, “It was a freezing night. Freezing for us, a lot of children from Southern California, who were not really appropriately dressed to deal with that kind of cold. Poor Mary [McDonough] didn’t even have winter boots on, she just has shoes and socks, sort of tights, on. So we were all quite cold.”

She went on to explain that they were bundled up, but not quite enough. “I would say our coats weren’t all that warm,” Judy Norton said. “We had mittens, we had hats, but we were out there for many, many hours that evening, and it was cold. And we were standing around in the snow and there weren’t a lot of ways to warm up while we were there. But it sure made for realism when we were shooting.”

It’s unfortunate for the actors in the scene, but it definitely looks like they were on location in the dead of winter. That realism comes across and melds with the other aspects of the film that create that 1900s time period. In a way, it makes sense that they were all scarcely clothed for the winter; the Waltons were a poor family, and they probably didn’t have the money for new winter coats every year. They had to make do with what they had, and they were probably not a lot. Again, realism.

Judy Norton Talks Pivotal Scene Between Olivia and John-Boy

Judy Norton also described a beautiful scene between Olivia and John-Boy; John-Boy is worried he’s going to have to give up his dreams to take care of the family.

“I found it just heartbreaking,” said Norton, “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.”

The way they shot the scene is important; the camera is behind them, shooting the sides of their faces. “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,” Judy Norton explained. The scene was done predominantly in one shot, as were a lot of scenes on “The Waltons.”