Doonby, a big-screen psychological thriller that addresses abortion and other life issues, is poised for national release over the next few months, and it is no stretch to predict that those who see it will never forget its powerful pro-life theme. The film stars John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard) as Sam Doonby, a mysterious drifter who blows into a small Texas community, drawing first the admiration, and then the suspicion and animosity, of the townspeople.
The movie also stars veteran Hollywood actors Joe Estevez (brother of Martin Sheen and uncle of Charlie Sheen) and Jenn Gotzon (Frost/Nixon), and features a special cameo appearance by Norma McCorvey, better known as plaintiff “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
McCorvey, who became a Christian many years after the Roe decision and is now a strong pro-life advocate, appears in the film as an elderly woman who reaches out to a young woman who is pregnant and contemplating an abortion. The film’s writer and director, Peter Mackenzie, said he decided to pursue McCorvey for the role because he wanted to cast someone with the background and understanding of the gravity of the abortion issue, and who would be able to tell that part of the story without being preachy. “I thought she encapsulated American thinking on the issue,” he said.
Before actively pursuing McCorvey for the role, Mackenzie chose to shoot the movie in the small Texas town of Smithville, not realizing that McCorvey lived there. As Mackenzie began to search out McCorvey for the part, he said things “got a little spooky” when he realized that she actually lived in the little town, population 3,902. For McCorvey’s part, she told the Hollywood Reporter that “I guess you could say the project chose me. God told me to move there two years before but didn’t really tell me why. So I obeyed. I had no family there, no friends. I just obeyed.”
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Photo: John Schneider in Doonby