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The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade has given new poignancy to If These Walls Could Talk, HBO’s 1996 anthology film about three women in different eras — the 1950s, the 1970s and the 1990s — and their experiences with abortion.
Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek and Cher each starred in a segment, with Cher directing her portion. Cher and Moore also served as executive producers on the project. Co-writer and co-director Nancy Savoca recalls how the film broke new ground but was also met with backlash.
“We were always nervous,” Savoca says of anticipating the reaction to the movie, noting, “there were protesters while we were shooting.” She adds that one of the film’s actors lost a longtime commercial job because of their work on the film, and says it was the only project she’s ever done where there was no product placement because no brands wanted to be affiliated with the stories — in which Moore stars as a nurse who gets an illegal abortion in 1952, Spacek as a mother of four who unexpectedly becomes pregnant in 1974, and Cher as a doctor who performs an abortion as protests rage outside in 1996.
Savoca calls HBO “very, very brave” to release the film, which went on to earn four Emmy nominations, including outstanding TV movie. She hopes more studios will follow in their footsteps: “Storytelling is what gets people to really empathize and understand something beyond the politics.”
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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