Timeless: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon Movie Director Tony Goldwyn

By Taylor Steinbeck

Actor and filmmaker Tony Goldwyn originally signed onto the 1999 film A Walk on the Moon as a producer, but once he started working on the script with screenwriter Pamela Gray, his priorities shifted. After two years of rewrites, there was still no director, so Goldwyn—eager to preserve the script's vision—stepped up to the plate. Nearly 20 years after Goldwyn’s directorial debut, with Moon now a successful musical on the Geary stage, we called up the star of ABC’s Scandal to find out why this story remains so close to his heart.

Tony Goldwyn, director of the 1999 film A Walk on the Moon, joins Pamela Gray, screenwriter of Moon and book writer
of the musicalat the Toronto Film Festival for the world premiere of their 2010 film Conviction. Courtesy Pamela Gray.
What initially drew you to Pamela Gray’s script?

The Catskill bungalow colonies was a part of the Jewish experience I was not raised in at all and it was so colorful and fabulous. I was captivated by it. And more importantly, I really related to Pearl’s journey of being a person who found herself trapped in a life that she felt wasn’t of her own choosing. And then to take the year of 1969, when our whole cultural fabric was at the apex of change and blowing apart conventional norms, and make that the backdrop for Pearl’s story. That was brilliant.

You’ve directed two films written by Gray, A Walk on the Moon (1999) and Conviction (2010). What’s your collaboration with her like?

There’s a lot of trust between us and we’re not afraid to push each other. Pam will tell you, I can really grind on her to keep rewriting. At the same time, she’ll really push back on me if I’m asking her to change something that is central to what she wants to do. We keep each other honest and argue back and forth in a way that’s productive.

Tony Goldwyn holds the Peabody Award for Scandal.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Do you have any favorite memories from the set?

We only had three days to shoot the Woodstock sequence, and on one of the days, it started raining during our lunch hour. It was torrential downpour for 30 minutes. We thought, “We’re screwed. We can’t keep filming.” But then, just as lunch was about to end, the sky cleared and the whole field looked gorgeous. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. Making movies is a miracle.

Why has this story remained so relevant?

People are always coming up to me and saying how impactful the movie was for them. This story Pam wrote is about marriage and family and parenthood and sex and identity. Everybody wrestles with these issues sometime in their life. There’s plenty of films about 1969 that feel old-fashioned because they’re nostalgia pieces about that time, but A Walk on the Moon is not that. The period serves as a metaphor for change and we see that change on a micro-level in the Kantrowitz family. The themes Moon tackles aren’t stuck in the ’60s—they’re timeless.

A Walk on the Moon runs through July 1 at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Click here to purchase tickets. Want to learn more about this story? Order a copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s in-depth performance guide series.

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