Conviction Interviews – Part 2: Tony Goldwyn

Ed: Along those lines, have any of the people outside of Betty Anne given you their reaction to the film?  Some people don’t come off looking very good.

Tony: Well, the family of course.  And that was a little difficult, because there were more siblings in the family.  And we really had to focus the story on Betty Anne.  So I don’t really bring them in.  We make mention of them, but they’re never characters on the screen.  And I’ve talked to all of them, they’re cool with it.  Martha Cokely saw the movie I think last week.  Barry Scheck set up a screening for her and they spoke.  And Martha released a statement saying there are fictional aspects to the story, which is true but slightly misleading.  But you know, she got it, and certainly didn’t kick up a fuss.  Who else?  I have not had any contact with Nancy Taylor or Roseanna Perry or even Brenda.  Although Mandy, the daughter, has seen the movie and was at our premiere in Toronto and it was a very big thing for her.  Very emotional.  Obviously Abra has been very involved with it.  And Barry Scheck.   But you know, the negative characters, you know we haven’t, but it’s all based on fact.  And there’s no legal threat because it’s all true.  It’s all public record.  I had to be careful with that because I was worried.

Ed: I can imagine.  Similarly, has Barry Scheck been championing the film a lot?

Tony: oh absolutely.

Ed: Because it seems like a great advertisement for the Innocence Project.

Tony: It really is.  And Barry has really been a de facto producer for the entire time.  He is the person who guided Betty Anne to us really.  My partner Andy Karsh who hired me to come aboard, he is a close friend of Barry’s and loved the story and he entrusted the project really with Andy.  He told Betty Anne, he was her guide in that.   And I was pursuing it.  And Andy and I met and liked each other, so we decided to team up on it.  But, Barry’s really been the Godfather of the project the whole time.

Joe: As a director and a storyteller, what did you learn from making this movie?

Tony: I learned a lot about faith.  It took 9 years to bring this to the screen.  And I learned from Betty Anne’s faith in Kenny, and I had this tremendous faith in her and her story.  There’s a responsibility.  And when you just hang in there, and believe in something, it finds it’s moment.  That was, in a way, the biggest lesson to me.  I mean, there are lots of things I learned of course.  About our justice system, about the fact that there are many, many, many, people like Kenny languishing in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.  And subsequently many people who are walking the streets who commit heinous crimes that they’re not being punished for.  But, at the heart of it, faith is what I really came away from it with.

Ed: I had also read that you come from a Hollywood lineage with some of the biggest names…

Tony: That’s right.

Ed: Has this career always been…was it always your dream?  Or was it just the Family Business?

Tony: No.  when I was a kid I didn’t want to get into show business because it was the Family Business.  But then I got the acting bug in High School, and when that bites you, if that’s what you’re meant to do, you just can’t say no.  And that cause some consternation in my family.  My Dad wanted me to be in the business, but not an ACTOR!  …But it’s been sort of inevitable.  It’s in my genes I suppose.  I became an actor. I was an actor for 10 years exclusively.  Never wanted to be a director, but fell into it, because I wanted to do more, be more involved in the process.

Ed: But it’s a lot longer commitment for you on the Directing side.

Tony: It is, but it’s great to be able to both.  I mean right now I’m acting in a show on Broadway.  So I’m doing that…

Ed: What show?

Tony: Promises, Promises.  It’s a musical, with Sean Hayes and me.

Ed: I’ve read about it.

Tony: Which is great, it’s fantastic.  If you come to New York you should come see it.  And then directing television.  Really, it’s great to be able to do it all.  And in terms of being part of this sort of “Goldwyn Legacy”, now sort of mid-career, I really feel like I’m a part of something beautiful and I’m making my little contribution to it.

Ed: Great.  If you could bare with me for just one second…

Tony: Sure.

Ed: Let me have one “Fanboy” moment, I’ve been a long time acting fan of yours.  Tarzan has been a favorite for my kids growing up.

Tony: Oh yes, it’s a great movie.

Ed: Since I’m recording, could I just get one (deep voice) “Go-ril-la!”

Tony: That’s funny, people love that word.  Yeah sure.  “GO-RIL-LA!”

Ed: Oh thank you so much.  That’s awesome!

Joe: Thank you so much for your time.

Ed: Thank you very much.

Tony: Thank you.

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