Mary Stuart Masterson Spills Secrets from the Set of Fried Green Tomatoes Thirty Years Later
Spoiler: Yes, she really did reach her hand into that beehive.
Just as we have begun to emerge from our pandemic shelter in place quarters, we have been rewarded by TCM and Fathom Events with the return of Fried Green Tomatoes to cinemas for a very limited time this month. The limited release is in honor of the film's 30th anniversary and Southern Living recently got some inside scoop from Idgie herself.
In a recent phone call, Mary Stuart Masterson reflected on the film's lasting legacy and she spilled some secrets from set. For example? Masterson told us that the famous food fight scene between Idgie [Masterson] and Ruth [Mary Louise Parker] in the kitchen at the Whistle Stop Café was a one take wonder.
"We each decided and worked with the prop master to give us what ammo we wanted ahead of time. And then that scene was entirely improvised. We had the ability to go shower and start over and get dressed again but I wanna say we only did it once with multiple cameras because it was just too fun. That was definitely the best day of work. Just the kind of thing you never get to do. Have a food fight," Masterson said with a laugh.
And what about that iconic scene where Idgie transforms into the bee charmer? No stunt double there. Masterson became a real-life bee master that day. Wearing a drop of queen bee pheromone, Masterson actually did stick her hand into that hive full of bees. The pheromone attracted the bees to her, and she became, as she described, "I was effectively a giant bee magnet." It was a relatively closed set that day, just Masterson, the director, the director of photography, a driver, and "the bee guy." Oh, and a lot of bees, of course.
"I was just supposed to walk over and get the honeycomb and bring it back to camera. We did what's called a series where you don't cut, you just keep rolling and you set back to 1 and you do it [again]. So, I did that three times and by the third time, I was so covered in bees I couldn't even see. It looked silly like you know the bearded lady with the bee beard."
The director yelled, "CUT" and the bee expert wafted Masterson with smoke and told her to walk away.
WATCH: Mary Stuart Masterson Reflects on the 30th Anniversary of Fried Green Tomatoes
"I walked away really slowly and the bees weren't going anywhere and he kept putting more and more smoke and was like 'ok walk a little faster, okay RUN!' And then I jumped into a car, took my shirt off that had the queen bee pheromone on it. Drove away. Put on another shirt, came back and did it three more times." Masterson noted that this the last major scene she shot for the entire movie, "Not by accident. You know in case I died or something," she said with a laugh. What a pro! Who needs a stunt double?