Director Garry Marshall reveals his secrets to getting A-list actresses to always make time for his movies

Credit: Lee Celano/WireImage

Director Garry Marshall helped make some of Hollywood’s most famous people famous – and some of them he’s known since they were in grade school. From his work creating the classic TV show Happy Days to directing Julia Roberts‘ iconic role in Pretty Woman to enlisting a 7-year-old Kate Hudson to call “Action!” for mom Goldie Hawn on the set of the 1987 romantic comedy Overboard, he’s worked with six decades of A-listers.

Marshall says that during the making of his latest film Mother’s Day, one of his favorite memories came full circle when Hudson brought her sons to the set.

“It may sound corny but I’m a corny guy,” Marshall tells PEOPLE. “When I was doing Overboard, I would hold Kate Hudson in my lap, she was like seven-and-a-half and I’d say ‘Let’s yell “Action!”‘ for mommy. Look, mommy’s funny!’ So in this movie I had her two sons there sitting in my director’s chair. ‘Here she comes, watch mommy, she’s going to be funny.’ So it was a circle. When we did Raising Helen I think she was newly pregnant. I seem to be close to motherhood in all ways!”

But does Hudson remember that early filmmaking experience?

“Oh yeah we talked about it. I got a little teary, I remember she gave me a hug,” Marshall recalls. “Her kids weren’t in the movie but they were there [on set]. [Mother’s Day co-star] Jason Sudeikis and his wife Olivia Wilde have a son Otis who was running around. We had a lot of kids on set and I had all my grandchildren there.”

One of Marshall’s six grandchildren proved to be a key link to getting his Pretty Woman leading lady Roberts to agree to star in the film, their fourth together.

“Julia Roberts has a 10-year-old, I have a 10-year-old grandson and they play in the same Little League,” Marshall explains. “They’re on different teams, so there I am in the stands cheering with Julia and eventually between innings, she’ll say, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m doing Mother’s Day. You’re a mother.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Okay.’ Then I go to her house with a script and shove it in her mailbox and she reads it, goes, ‘Okay, I could do something’ and she picks her part and that’s it. That’s not usually the way show business works.”

Marshall maintains that his methods are more effective than the typical “have your people call my people” Hollywood stereotype.

“I don’t call them, I bump into them,” he says with a laugh.

Mother’s Day, which also stars Jennifer Aniston and Pretty Little LiarsShay Mitchell, opens April 29.