The 2007 comedy-drama film Waitress marked a comeback of sorts for Andy Griffith. The film, starring Keri Russell as a small town diner waitress who's a whiz at making pies, was Griffith's first onscreen role since the 2001 Billy Bob Thornton flick Daddy & Them.
The bittersweet film centers on Jenna Hunterson (Russell), a pregnant woman living with her abusive husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto). She spends her days making pies with quirky names like "I Hate My Husband Pie," "Bad Baby Pie," "Fallin' in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie" and "Naughty Pumpkin Pie." Soon, she starts having an affair with her doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), leading to her making an "I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie."
Griffith, who passed away in 2012, plays Old Joe, the cranky-with-a-heart-of-gold owner of Joe's Pie Diner, where Jenna works. I won't spoil the ending, but the legendary Matlock and The Andy Griffith Show star steals the show as Joe and plays a role in one of the movie's sweetest and most tearjerking moments.
The film also stars Cheryl Hines as Becky, Adrienne Shelly as Dawn, Eddie Jemison as Ogie Anhorn, Lew Temple as Cal and Darby Stanchfield as Francine Pomatter.
Griffith told the Los Angeles Times that he chose the role because of the writing and because the character of Joe "was a good, pivotal part."
Tragically, Adrienne Shelly, who wrote and directed Waitress, was found dead in her apartment in 2006, the year before her film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Diego Pillco, a construction worker in Shelly's buidling, was sentenced to 25 years without parole for Shelly's murder.
Shelly's husband created The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a foundation to support women filmmakers. Russell, Paul Rudd, Cheryl Hines and Michelle Williams are among the board members.
Shelly's work lives on in Waitress, which became a Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles.