1. The Writer Thought Julia Roberts Reminded Him Of His Sister
Robert Harling, who wrote the play and film based on his sister’s real-life health struggles, confessed about Julia, “She walked into the room and that smile lit everything up and I said Thats my sister.
2. However, Meg Ryan Was Initially Cast As Shelby
She was under contract to perform the role, but the producers allowed her to back out in order to star in another iconic film that same year:When Harry Met Sally…with Billy Crystal.
3. The Director Questioned Dolly Parton’s Acting Talent
After Dolly messed up one take, Herbert Ross actually asked her if she even knew how to act. Of course, she had the perfect comeback: “No, but it’s your job to make me look like I can!”
We all know that’s simply not the case Dolly is a great actress!Mostof her co-stars also later revealedhow difficultthe gruff directorwas to work with on the film.
4. Dolly And Daryl Hannah Took Lessons From Stylists
In order to make sure their performances didn’t look out of place in the beauty salon, the actresses spent time with actual stylists before filming to study theirmethods.
5. The Director Thought Daryl Was Too Pretty
He wasn’t convinced that the bombshell could effectively play Annelle, whose looks were supposed to bemore subdued and modest.
To convince him otherwise, Daryl showed up on set dressed as the character and was so unrecognizable that security almost wouldn’t let her in.
6. There Are No Men In The Original Script
All of the women appear in the original stage adaptation and they discuss the men in their lives at length, but none ever appear on stage with them.
7. Producers Thought Sally Field Was Too Young
Producers thought that no one would believe the actress was the mother of the 22-year-old Shelby. Sally kindly pointed out to them that her eldest son was just shy of 22 himself at the time.
8. The Cast Stayed In Local Lake Homes
When they arrived for filming in Natchitoches, Louisiana, most of the principal castrented property available on the water. This included Shirley MacLaine, who reportedly asked her realtor, “Would my nude sunbathing cause any problems?”
Luckily, the realtoralso had a sense of humor. He simply replied: “Only a traffic jam on the lake.”
9. Princess Diana Attended The U.K. Premiere
While still married to Prince Charles, the royal couple made an appearance at the emotional film’s red-carpet premiere when it made its way across the pond in1990.
10. The Onscreen Hospital Staff Were Not Actors
The filmhiredthe actual doctors and nurses who helped care for Robert’s sister, Susan,togive the scenes an authentic emotional weight.
11. The Writer’s Parents Found Peace From The Film
The writer was concerned about his mother being on set for one of the more heartbreaking scenes involvingShelby,particularly as her own daughter had passed.
When he asked how she could put herself through the emotional moment and still have dry eyes, she explained, “I wanted to see Julia get up and walk away.”
12. Dolly Wrote A Song For The Movie
Unfortunately, it didn’t make the final cut. However, Robert remembered her coming into his family’s home nearby while filming and announcing that she had written a song for Susan titled “Eagle When She Flies.”
The song can be heard on Dolly’s 1991 album of the same name.
13. The Success Of The Film Fulfilled Susan’s Wishes
During their last conversation together before her passing, Susan expressed to her brother how she wished she could help with his writing career but had no idea how.
Following her death, he channeled his grief into the script, writing the whole thing in only 10 days. With both the hit play and feature film under his belt, Robert was undeniably able to fulfill one of his sister’s last wishes.
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