Was Julia Roberts 'Picked On' By Steel Magnolias Director? Actress Sally Field Reveals

The two-time Oscar-winning actress Sally Field revealed how the director of Steel Magnolias, Herb Ross, “picked on” Julia Roberts and how she and the other co-stars “came to her aid.”

Published on Feb 13, 2024  |  09:45 PM IST |  52.8K
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Sally Field and Julia Roberts

Steel Magnolias has made a place as one of the most empowering movies about female friendships in people’s hearts despite coming out more than three decades ago. However, actress Sally Field, who played the role of M’Lynn Eatenton in the film, revealed that the movie’s director, Herb Ross, liked to pick on Julia Roberts during shooting as she was a newcomer and the youngest one in the cast.

The cast of Steel Magnolias ( IMDb )

Field revealed that the director liked to ‘pick on’ Roberts 

“We would all rally around Julia because she was the baby. She was sort of the newcomer. And she was wonderful, and he just picked on her. It was awful,” the veteran actress said in her new interview with Vulture. Field, now 77 years old, revealed that although Herb gave her and the other actresses the freedom to do whatever they wanted, he was "very, very, very hard on Julia.” As to why he was so hard on her, the actress said, "Some people just need to have somebody they pick on."

She also remembered how she, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, and Olympia Dukakis, who made up the rest of the cast, came to the rescue of Roberts whenever things got too hard for her. “But we all came to her aid, and I remember Dolly once just turned on him — always with humor, but usually the most vulgar humor you ever heard so that it was like, you just literally don’t have a leg to stand on,” she said about the legend Dolly Parton, who recently turned 78. 

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She also commented how Herb Ross never dared to treat her the way he did Julia because he did not dare to. Field said that even though she doesn't mind getting notes from the director, she does not stand for bad behavior. “If you’re gonna be mean to me, then you’re gonna find a warrior. I may be small, but you don’t want to do that,” the actress said.


Steel Magnolias and its success 

Steel Magnolias is a movie about a group of women in Louisiana, and the story follows the highs and lows of their lives and friendships. A comedy-drama at its heart, the film has become a cult classic because of its portrayal of female friendships. Julia Roberts, who is 56 now, was only 21 when the film came out. She also got an Oscar nomination for portraying M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby in the movie. 

Roberts recently talked about how she got the role in the movie because Meg Ryan passed upon it due to a schedule clash. In 2019, during the film’s 30th anniversary, actress Shirley MacLaine, now 89, revealed to PEOPLE how she knew from the first time she saw Julia that she would become a star someday. And even though Roberts did not bag an Oscar for her role in this film, she won one for Erin Brockovich in 2001. The movie also starred Daryl Hannah, 63, known for her role in Kill Bill Volumes I and II, and the late actress Olympia Dukakis, known for films such as Moonstruck and Joan of Arc. 

ALSO READ: 5 top Julia Roberts films to watch before seeing Leave the World Behind featuring Pretty Woman, Wonder, and more

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Gargi has a Masters degree in English Literature from The University of Calcutta. She has been a content writer

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