Julia Roberts was bullied 'with a vengeance' by 'Steel Magnolias' director Herbert Ross.

The 45-year-old actress had her breakthrough role as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in the 1989 film and although the feature propelled her into the limelight, Julia was constantly picked on by the filmmaker and often fled the set in tears. Her co-stars Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine have revealed Herbert would constantly throw 'harsh' comments their way and especially targeted Julia, who was 22 when the movie was released.

Sally, who played Julia's mother M'Lynn Eatenton, said: 'Herb Ross was basically a choreographer. That means he could be sometimes very stern and sometimes very harsh. My deepest memories of the film were how we bonded together after he told one of us or all of us we couldn't act. [He] did pick on one of us severely. He never told me I couldn't act ... He went after Julia with a vengeance. This was pretty much her first big film.'

Shirley, who took on the role of two-time widow Louisa 'Ouiser' Boudreaux, added to Us Weekly magazine: '[Julia] would come to my house every night and say, 'I think I'm terrible. What am I doing?' She really was in tears.'

Herbert - who passed away from heart failure in 2001 - even criticised legendary country star and actress Dolly Parton's portrayal of character Truvy Jones in the feature, suggesting she worked on her performance skills. Shirley recalled: 'I remember the day Herb said to Dolly Parton, 'Why don't you take some acting lessons?' Equally shocked at the remark, Sally exclaimed: 'You don't say that to Dolly Parton! Dolly Parton is absolutely the funniest, wittiest and filthiest, and she will cut you to ribbons.'