Interview: Conviction – Tony Goldwyn, Sam Rockwell, and Betty Anne Waters

Conviction is in theaters today and luckily some of of the cast, crew, and inspiration generously gave up some time to talk to Cinedork about the film. Conviction is a film about the true life story of Betty Anne Waters (who we got to talk to) and her struggle to free her brother (Sam Rockwell, we talked to him too!) from prison for being wrongly convicted. Tony Goldwyn (we talked to HIM TOO!) directs and produces this wonderful story of heroic triumph. Check out a few questions below that really give you insight into how meaningful the film is.

Going from directing TV shows like Dexter, Justified, Damages, how is it different going from a TV show to directing a movie for you in your experience?

Tony Goldwyn – Directing television is like a work out really for me. I started doing it because it is very difficult to get movies made. If you direct a movie every couple of years your a prolific director. So I haven’t been directing that long and when I was asked to direct television I thought I’d give it a shot. The time pressure you have is so, you have so little time to do it. It’s like going to the gym as a director. You have a very limited shooting schedule you have to get it. To me it’s a technical exercise. It’s no fun if you’re not working on good writing like you mentioned. You go in and make a really good hour of television, with great writing and great actors, and you usually have about 8 days to shoot it and it sits in the cutting room for about 4 days. It’s like kind of a different, there’s many similarities but at the end of the day it’s also not your responsibility you turn it over to the producers and they are the one’s who are the deciders. So in a feature film the director is the decider of everything and it’s a much bigger responsibility.

The build up where you keep looking for the evidence, I was wondering how accurate it was, or how dramatized was it?

Betty Anne Waters – That was pretty acurate. What happened was, I was hoping to get Barry Sheck to help me earlier than I did. Because I was afraid that if the authorities in Massachusetts knew that I became Kenny’s lawyer and was looking for his evidence that it would be destroyed or lost. I couldn’t wait any longer so I had friends of mine call, and I would call and say I was somebody else and I was doing a paper on the Water’s Case. So I kept calling calling calling until Mrs. Howlard got sick of people calling and she did go look for the evidence, and that scene finding the evidence, that’s all true, with the paper on the box it’s all exactly the way it happened. Because is Massachusetts they don’t have DNA preservation statue so even to this day it can be destroyed. Every other state has one except Massachusetts and they don’t have a DNA statue that gives prisoners access to DNA evidence if they can prove their innocence.

Tony Goldwyn – In fact when we were on set we had Betty Ann actually put the box together exactly the way it was. Mark our designer had created the stationary that was exactly like Betty Ann’s stationary but she actually wrote all over it. What was it?

Betty Anne Waters – Do not destroy this evidence is going to be used for post-conviction relief.

Tony Goldwyn – Right. And she signed her own name Betty Ann Waters so that was all her, exactly how it was in the real thing.

You mention spiritually uplifting. I know this is an actor and it’s your job, but do you get this kind of sense too after the film was over. Does it linger on you taking on a role like that?

Sam Rockwell – I got that when I saw the film for the first time in Toronto. I got that kind of feeling, That Euphoric feeling from seeing the film. But as an actor, no it wasn’t like it. I was in it. In the shit as they say. But it was still fun in a hard working, sweat and tears kind of way.

Did you immediately agree to do the part?

Sam Rockwell – Oh yeah. It’s a great part, it’s got everything. It’s got it all… Everything you want to do.

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