Actress Jenn Gotzon, who made her Hollywood breakthrough in the film "Frost/Nixon" portraying the president's daughter, Tricia Nixon, is in Washington, D.C., this week to help present two screenings of the movie "Doonby." The screenings of the mystery film with an underlying message about life's choices are intentionally timed to coincide with the March for Life and the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade case.
Gotzon spoke to The Christian Post on Wednesday about "Doonby" and the subject of abortion from her perspective as a Christian and an actress with a leading role in the movie.
Both free film showings, at the Landmark E Street Cinema Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, and at (Marriott) Residence Inn Friday at 4 p.m. ET, are sponsored by NET TV, a new television station broadcasting "uplifting movies" through Verizon Fios Video on Demand in over 18 cities nationwide. "Doonby" is planned for wide release in April.
Gotzon along with "Doonby" actor Joe Estevez will be in attendance along with the film's director Peter Mackenzie and associate producer Steve Doherty.
She said that her journey while making the movie was about getting a better understanding of both sides of the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, "all of which I was never a part of before 'Doonby.'"
"The movie really challenged me to understand the question of where do I see it? I know I love Jesus, I believe in the Bible, and that's been my foundation in life and so it's been a really good movie to learn and help me grow as well," Gotzon said.
The interview began with her synopsis of the movie.
CP: In your own words, tell us the basic plot of the movie.
Gotzon: Doonby is a psychological mystery thriller that has a touch of romance, which is where my character and John Schneider's character come in. It's a story about this man that no one knows who mysteriously appears in a small town in Texas. He starts to change the lives of those around him in a positive way. Due to conflict of life, with things like jealousy and suspicion and all these interesting human things that we deal with, the circumstances of this beautiful human being named Sam Doonby, played by John Schneider, life turns up on its head. The audience is left to figure out, "Who is Sam Doonby?"
It's a mystery and in the climax of the movie this beautiful mystery is revealed. It's a story that really impacts and has a proactive message to it that can really challenge all audiences on their beliefs and becoming aware of the choices they make in life and how they may impact another human being.
CP: How did these screenings in D.C. come about during the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade?
Gotzon: It's always been a vision and a passion for Peter Mackenzie, the writer and director of "Doonby," to bring this story to Washington, D.C., during the March for Life on its anniversary date. So, we got together along with the associate producer, and prayed. We reached out to NET TV, and simultaneously they were having meetings about working with the people of "Doonby" and asking if they wanted to do a screening during March for Life. When I contacted them it was like a God-affirming moment and it's at that moment that NET TV decided to sponsor the entire event at Washington, D.C.
NET wants programming that can give back and inspire, that brings faith and gives hope and "Doonby" is a movie they just absolutely love. So, it became a beautiful fit.
You look at the culmination of events. You have Martin Luther King Day, you've the president's inauguration, you get 40 years ago the Supreme Court approved legalized abortion through the Roe vs. Wade case, and you have Norma McCorvey, who was Jane Roe, have a cameo role in "Doonby." In addition, my big break in Hollywood was on Pennsylvania Avenue in "Frost/Nixon" playing President Nixon's daughter Tricia. So, having all these elements pull together for the March for Life is really incredible. You kind of pinch yourself. It's an honor.
CP: What is your view on the abortion issue? Did working on this movie shape your view of abortion any differently? If so, how?
Gotzon: I'm not political in my personal opinion. I personally feel it's irrelevant. I think God has given everyone free will. I also believe that life starts at conception though my heart has such compassion for everyone who has hardships in their decisions. So, when a young woman in high school or college gets pregnant some people feel trapped and they don't know how to make the wise decision. They feel abortion is their only way out. It takes courage and it builds character to stand up and really choose to have that baby. I know everything happens for a reason, and in the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). My heart just breaks for people who feel trapped. I can really empathize with those feelings, "I'm going to have a baby, my life is now over." That's why in my heart I want to encourage someone who is struggling with those choices that everything happens for a reason and that child, even though that person doesn't have the capabilities of taking care of that child, there's so many people in this world that cannot have babies and they want more than anything to have a family. What a beautiful gift to be able to give that child through adoption to a mom and a dad who want to have a baby but can't get pregnant.
"Doonby" is a story that challenges me to think through those choices that I make and the consequences that they may have on other people. It is really a cool movie that starts to percolate and really makes an individual think for themselves and what is their own individual understanding.
My character is not involved in that story line so actually filming that movie for me was more about the romantic story between Laura Reaper and Sam Doonby, and the conflicts in their romantic relationship due to Laura's jealously and her alcoholism. Not until after the making of the movie and the film was finished and when I saw it as a completed picture did it impact me so much about the choices we make in life – all the choices we have to make. Put together those pros and cons lists and really be prayerful so that we know that we are making the best choices for ourselves that are the most healthy for our own well being.
One of the producers of this movie said that if this movie can save one person's life then his choice to be a part of this film was completely worth it. We've already seen so many people honored by this film.
CP: What does it mean to you to have two special screenings of Doonby in D.C. during the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade?
Gotzon: I am so blessed. I am so honored. I cannot believe such an honor like this I get to experience with the film's director, and another one of the actors, Joe Estevez, and associate producer Steve Dougherty who has such a passion for life, whose ministry is a pro-life ministry. This is a week in history and how cool to have a touch in the middle of this week of history with cinema, with a movie that entertains and impacts – to really impact people positively in their hearts. It's really a dream come true. I could care less if I'm famous. I always want to do movies that can really impact or inspire audiences through the art of storytelling. To have a lead role in a movie that does that is literally a prayer being answered. It's something I've prayed for since I was really young.
CP: What would you hope movie audiences viewing Doonby would take away from the film?
Gotzon: For them to walk away entertained, enjoying the story, but the next day, and the day after, and the day after, and the week after that the story percolates in their sub-conscious and they really come to an understanding that the choices that they make in life and the consequences that come from those choices and in life, in what they are choosing to do maybe they can make better decisions.