story & photo
by Christopher Annino
Since its release in 1988 the film Mystic Pizza helped launch some actors careers, such as Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Moses, and Conchata Ferrell, to mega stardom. Being the timeless coming of age story that the film represented, its innocence immortalized the film under the direction of Donald Petrie. Many locals celebrated the film at the Olde Mistick Village Arts Cinemas by watching a screening of the 20th anniversary edition of the film.
Chaz Zezulka, a Mystic Pizza extra, and current Vice-Chair Person of Groton Schools said, “In the film, I danced with Julia Roberts in one scene. I realized that getting picked to be an extra is exciting. But the reality of acting in it was different; it made me respect the profession a whole lot more. It was an amazing learning experience for me and the cast was very kind to all of us, especially Vincent D’Onofrio.”
Prior to the screening, there was a meet and greet party at the Mystic Hilton. There were several presentations from Donald Petrie, director, and William Moses, actor, who played Tim Travers in the film. The event was sponsored by the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, Michael Blair, Prudential CT / Pequot Commercial, Olde Mistick Village Arts Cinemas, Hilton Mystic, Mohegan Sun, and the Mystic Pizza restaurant.
George Norfleet, Director of the State Film Office, said, “Since Mystic Pizza’s debut, CT became a hot spot for many major motion pictures, and we are very confident that there will be more to come.”
“Mystic Pizza does so much for this town,” said Tricia Cunningham, Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “People still come up to me today and tell me about their experiences as extras in the movie. It’s really put us on the map.”
In an interview during the ceremony at the Mystic Hilton, William Moses said, “I spoke with Annabeth Gish and she is filming an episode of Brotherhood in Providence, but she told me to tell everyone that she is very grateful and she wishes she was there.” William also added, “This film was an amazing moment in my career, in the film business you would say it has legs, meaning that it is unforgettable. I can’t wait until we celebrate the 25th anniversary.” William has recently finished several Lifetime movies and will be on an episode of Ghost Whisperer.