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Billings native recalls role in filming on 35th Anniversary of 'Major League'

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Posted at 5:32 AM, Apr 05, 2024

BILLINGS - It's one of the greatest sports movies ever made - the classic baseball comedy "Major League" starring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, and Wesley Snipes, and it celebrates its 35th anniversary this Sunday, April 7.

To this day it remains a much-loved film about our nation's pastime. But did you know it has a Montana connection?

Say hello to Billings native Julia Miller, who played a big part in the making of the movie.

"Hello, Big Sky Country! I am from Billings," said Miller. "I'm a born and raised Billings girl. I went to Pratt (elementary school) and then I went to Central (High School)."

This homegrown Montana girl once took a big gamble and left small-town life for the bright lights of Hollywood.

"After I graduated from Gonzaga, I said, 'Dad, you know I really want to go to LA. I want to make the most out of that communications degree.' I had done theater at Gonzaga. Dad said, 'Here's five hundred dollars. Once it runs out, you're coming home.'"

But it didn't run out. After landing a job with a production company that had produced such classics as "Taxi Driver," "The Sting," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Miller was introduced to writer-director David S. Ward and helped bring "Major League" to the big screen.

"David was a lover of the Cleveland Indians for a very long time. A lot of people didn't have faith in them and he decided to put together a great story with a group of guys and despite their ethnic background, despite their religion, despite all odds against them and nobody believing in them, they came together as a team."

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Even though it's set in Cleveland, the bulk of the movie was actually filmed in Milwaukee.

"The Milwaukee connection was the stadium was less expensive to shoot there. We also had more sunlight at that stadium so we could have longer shooting days," Miller said.

While filming "Major League," did the crew have a sense that the movie would become not only a hit but an instant baseball classic?

"You know, at that time, I knew it was special because we had a really great group of people involved with the film, with a passion for baseball," Miller said. "Working with such a great group of people, I knew that this movie would do the best it could possibly do, but I didn't know that it was gonna become one of the biggest baseball movies, sports movies of our time."

After working so closely on the film, Miller still keeps in touch with director David S. Ward and even recently bumped into Charlie Sheen, who played the character "Wild Thing" in the movie.

"It was funny because he was up on the stage and he kept looking down at me. When I went into the back of the green room at the end of the show, he looks at me and he goes, 'Do I know you?' And I said, 'You do.'"

Miller even makes a memorable brief appearance in the film telling Sheen's character Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn: "Wild Thing, you make my heart sing," while he's standing at a jukebox in a sports bar. It's a line that still follows her to this day.

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Julia Miller and Charlie Sheen in "Major League."

After the movie's release, Miller went on to be a producer associate and make another cameo in "Major League II." She's also appeared on TV in "Nash Bridges," "The Munsters Today," and another David S. Ward film "The Program" starring James Caan and Halle Berry.

Are there plans for a real "Major League III"?

"Yes," said Miller. "David has written the script for "Major League III" and it is absolutely amazing. I actually cried at the end of it because it is so well written and it brings everybody back. I hope one day we do get the chance to get that film made."

Watch Below: Extended Interview with Julia Miller

Extended Interview: Julia Miller

Many fans agree it would be great to see the guys back together again at least one more time along with a very special superstar from Billings.

Miller remains close to her hometown and her family still living here, including her mother who just celebrated a birthday.

"I would like to give a shout-out to the Miller family and to my Mom, happy belated 90th birthday, Mom," she said. "I love you and I love my family. Here's to Billings, Montana!"