Julia Roberts Was ‘Picked on’ by ‘Steel Magnolias’ Director, Backed up by Co-Stars

Sally Field’s recent chat with Vulture shed some light on the off-screen dynamics during the filming of ‘Steel Magnolias.’ In the interview, the actress opened up about the protective atmosphere her co-stars created around Julia Roberts, particularly when the late director Herb Ross seemed to single her out for criticism.

Field recalled how Ross’ treatment of the actresses varied significantly. While she felt she had the liberty to perform as she pleased, he was notably harsh on the young Roberts. According to Field, Roberts herself would attest to this fact.

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Steel Magnolias
Image Courtesy: US Weekly

“We would all rally around Julia,” Field reminisced, highlighting Roberts’ status as the newbie on set and the director’s disproportionate scrutiny of her work. “He just picked on her,” Field added, recalling the discomfort of witnessing Ross’ behaviour towards Roberts.

When questioned about Ross’ motivations for singling out Roberts, Field bluntly attributed it to his personality, describing him as “a real son of a b—h” in a lighthearted manner. She suggested that some people simply have a penchant for targeting others. However, the camaraderie among the cast was palpable, with Field recounting instances where they would stand up for Roberts, often with humour, albeit sometimes using rather colourful language to put Ross in his place.

Steel Magnolias
Image Courtesy: House Digest

Field noted that her own experience with Ross differed significantly because he knew better than to mistreat her. While she welcomed constructive criticism, she made it clear that she wouldn’t tolerate unkindness, asserting her readiness to defend herself against such treatment.

Despite the challenges Roberts faced during the filming of ‘Steel Magnolias,’ her talent shone through, earning her an Oscar nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actress,’ the film’s sole nod at the prestigious awards ceremony. This nomination marked just the beginning of Roberts’ illustrious career, culminating in her eventual triumph as ‘Best Actress’ for her role in ‘Erin Brockovich’ in 2001.