‘The Waltons’: How Judy Norton Prepared for Her Character Mary Ellen’s Addiction in ‘The Obsession’

by Clayton Edwards
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If you’re a fan of The Waltons, you probably remember Judy Norton as Mary Ellen. She still has a deep connection to the classic series even decades after it ended. However, Norton isn’t just resting on her laurels after being on one of the biggest television shows in history. Instead, she hosts a web series in which she speaks in-depth about her time on the iconic family drama.

Sometimes, Judy Norton breaks down entire episodes. She takes old fans and new ones alike down her own memory lane. If you’re a fan of The Waltons you will love how she pulls back the curtain on her YouTube-based web series.

In an episode of Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton that dropped back in February of this year, Norton discusses “The Obsession,” from season seven of The Waltons. In that episode, Mary Ellen starts taking pills. Before long, she has a full-blown addiction. Before the episode is over, Mary Ellen is deep enough into her addiction that she even robs the doctor’s office for pills.

During the video discussing, “:The Obsession,” Judy Norton talks about how she got ready for the episode.

How Judy Norton Prepared to Deal With Mary Ellen’s Addiction

 Addiction isn’t an easy thing to deal with from any angle. Luckily for Judy Norton, she doesn’t know that first hand. In fact, she says that she has never taken drugs in her life. So, she had to do some serious preparation in order to portray Mary Ellen’s addiction to pills during “The Obsession.”

Judy Norton said that she did some research to see what addiction looked and felt like. However, research alone wouldn’t cut it. After the book-learning was finished she relied on her actor’s instincts. On this, Norton said, “Then, it’s going on instincts. It’s finding ways that you might relate to that sense of anxiety from the withdrawals, the tension in the body, the not being able to sleep.”

Judy Norton said that much of her instinctual performance was based on energy. She says some things like boredom or lethargy are very low-energy. However, the addiction she portrayed was very high-energy.

Judy Norton said, “Things like anger and fear. Those are emotions that are very high energy. So, tapping into finding that energy, for me, made it much easier to play those scenes.” So, she was able to tap into things with which she was familiar. In doing so, she was able to tread new ground.

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