Norma McCorvey, better known by the legal pseudonym “Jane Roe,” first hit headlines as the plaintiff in the 1973 lawsuit “Roe v. Wade,” which later resulted in the U.S Supreme Court overturning individual states' laws against abortion by ruling them unconstitutional.
Now McCorvey, who years later converted to Catholicism and is now a strong advocate of pro-life, is making her acting debut in the film “Doonby,” a psychological thriller about a woman in the 1960s determined to terminate her pregnancy.
"Somebody had suggested to me that Norma was sort of the personification of the American ambivalence toward abortion since she had been on both sides of the issue at one time or another,” director Peter Mackenzie told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I agreed that it could be a very interesting idea to cast her in a cameo role but had no idea where to contact her.”
It seems divine intervention heard the knock.
“Then out of the blue, I met somebody who turned out to be her attorney ,and if that wasn't weird enough, I learned that she lived in the very town of Smithville, Texas, with a population of less than 4,000 where we were scheduled to shoot our film,” Mackenzie said. “It was amazing, and it was a real pleasure working with her.”
McCorvey plays therole of Nancy Thurber, an elderly townswoman who delivers advice to one of the film's heroines.
“Although the movie is about far more than the importance of life, it's a powerful moment between the two that shows both sides of the pro-life and pro-choice issue,” Mackenzie said.
Convincing McCorvey, who had appeared in documentaries but never acted before, to take the plunge wasn’t easy.
“She was a bit wary at first but I was able to convince her that I wasn't out to make her look bad or take advantage of her,” Mackenzie said. “I think she agreed to do it because she read the script and saw that it was a chance for her to deliver a message through the dialogue that I wrote for Nancy. Her appearance is brief but powerful.”
The film also stars Charlie Sheen’s uncle Joe Estevez as the small Texas town’s wealthy doctor and John Schneider as lead role Sam Doonby, the handsome drifter without a past. And since filming, Schneider has become quite the McCorvey fan.
"I expected her to be a complicated, protective and cerebral person,” he told us. “I was surprised to find that she is so down to earth, open and unaffected. Working with Norma was a study in opposites. Who you think she'll be, and who she really is. A living, breathing historical contrast."
The Mark Joseph-produced “Doonby” is slated for a September release, although no distributor is currently attached. Mackenzie is optimistic the film will resonate with a broad range of American audiences.
“Even though we hope the film will be of interest to conservative and faith-based moviegoers, I wrote this movie to appeal to a mainstream audience," Mackenzie said. "Everybody can disagree about pro-life and pro-choice, but we all should be able to agree that every life matters and ‘Doonby’ expands on this and asks important questions. People tell me it might be controversial but my hope is that it will appeal to all kinds of different groups of Americans.”