‘FBI: Most Wanted’ Star Dylan McDermott Recalls Life on ‘Steel Magnolias’ Set

by Caitlin Berard

Today, Dylan McDermott is known all over the world as a major Hollywood star. He’s had leading roles in hit shows like FBI: Most Wanted, Law & Order: Organized Crime, and American Horror Story, not to mention his award-winning role in the 2012 film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Back in the late ’80s, however, a young Dylan McDermott was still a struggling actor. So when he earned his very first role in the 1987 drama Hamburger Hill, he jumped at the opportunity. As it was a hyper-realistic depiction of one of the most gruesome battles in the Vietnam War, however, the set was less than glamorous.

“It was grueling,” McDermott recalled during a panel at a Steel City Con. “Two people died making it. We’re in the Philippines, I lost 25 pounds making it…there was a coup in the Philippines at the time. I think we only had hairy chicken for lunch.”

After a life-threatening experience filming Hamburger Hill, Dylan McDermott found himself in the 1989 film Steel Magnolias. McDermott was cast as Jackson Latcherie, the devoted fiance of Shelby (Julia Roberts). According to McDermott, the Steel Magnolias set was so far removed from the miserable conditions of Hamburger Hill, he found it hard to believe.

“It was incredible,” McDermott recalled of the Steel Magnolias set. “I’ve never seen more beautiful food in my life. I mean, the catering and the craft service was like four stars. And then, of course, all the incredible actors on the set…it was really a dream come true.”

‘FBI: Most Wanted’ Star Dylan McDermott Says ‘Steel Magnolias’ Showed Him the Movie Star Lifestyle

Dylan McDermott’s recollection of the ’80s is slightly inaccurate. He recalled starring in only one movie (Hamburger Hill) before Steel Magnolias when in actuality, there were two films in between. That said, with the way he described Hamburger Hill, it’s no wonder the two years that followed were a blur.

What he’ll never forget, however, is the way Steel Magnolias made him feel – like a real movie star. “I had no idea,” he said of the luxurious Steel Magnolias set. “I had a trailer, none of these things I’d had before.”

Dylan McDermott then went on to gush about his female costars. “Dolly [Parton], she has perfume…I think she mixes like ten different perfumes together. So when she walks into a room, you almost faint because she smells so good. And then Sally [Field] is the consummate professional.”

“I learned so much from watching all the other actors, you know, Academy Award-winning actors and cinematographers,” he continued. “The cinematographer was the cinematographer from Chinatown! So it was really a big break for me. A lot of people wanted that role, so I really enjoyed it. It was like, ‘Oh, this is what it’s like to be a movie star’. I never knew before that moment what it was like.”