“Major League” director says Rene Russo's hands were tied down on set due to excessive movement: 'She's Italian'

"I'm sure it wasn't the only thing David had to deal with given I was a first-time actress," Russo tells Entertainment Weekly.

Rene Russo scored a breakout role with the 1989 baseball comedy Major League — but she needed a little help to stop her performance from being too dynamic.

On the latest episode of the podcast Hollywood Gold, writer-director David S. Ward recalled an unusual issue Russo had during production of the movie. "The only problem we had with her was she's Italian," he said. "And when she gets going there's a lot of the hands, a lot of the talking with the hands, you know? And they would be flying across her face."

To hear Ward tell it, Russo's hands were particularly troublesome in the first scene she shot. "I said, 'Rene, you've got to keep the hands down,'" Ward said. "And finally what I did is, I tied them down. I tied them down for the first take and she said, 'Okay, I think I got it.' And then I untied them and she was fine. Every once in a while I'd have to remind her again: 'Hands in the frame, across your face, doing wipes across your face.'"

<p>Paramount/Everett</p> Rene Russo in 'Major League'


Rene Russo in 'Major League'

For her part, Russo appreciates Ward working with her at a time when she was still finding her footing. "I'm sure it wasn't the only thing David had to deal with given I was a first-time actress," she tells Entertainment Weekly. "I'm forever grateful to David for taking a chance on me."

Russo played Lynn Weslin, the former flame of Tom Berenger's grizzled catcher Jake Taylor. Major League was her first big-screen performance, though she had auditioned for Ward's directorial debut, Cannery Row, several years earlier. "She was very raw at the time, but she had this quality that you just liked her, you just wanted to watch her, you wanted to root for her, you just felt like this is a really genuinely sweet and lovely person who can also be funny," Ward said of Russo's first audition.

"When she came in for her interview for Major League, she was so nervous that she basically stood in a corner," he continued. "Most people when they read, they stand up, they walk around — she stood in a corner. It was not in the top 10, but her quality in terms of just when she read the lines [was like] — I just love her, and I think she's gonna be great with Berenger."

Major League ultimately launched a fruitful film career for Russo, as she went on to star in huge movies like Get Shorty, The Thomas Crown Affair, Lethal Weapon 3 and 4, Nightcrawler, and Thor.

Listen to Ward's full interview above.

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