A&E

A conversation with actress Sally Field

Oscar winner talks about aging, new film 'Doris'

Age is an issue in the new comedy "Hello My Name Is Doris," and let's face it, it's an issue for all of us. It's even, or perhaps especially, an issue for movie stars, such as the two-time Oscar winner Sally Field, who plays Doris in the new comedy.

In Michael Showalter's film, Doris is a lonely 60-something who gets a new lease on life when she becomes smitten with her 30-something co-worker John, played by Max Greenfield.

Talking exclusively with the Weekly, Field confesses she could relate to Doris when it comes to aging and its relation to self-image.

"Now that I'm in my late, late, late, late 60s ..." she begins.

"You're given credence that your adolescence into adulthood is a big stage -- a lot of new areas and adjustments -- then your young adulthood and marriage and children, and what a big stage that is. And how are you adjusting to the big, bad world, and your career, or your not-career. The thing is, those stages, they don't quit. Every 10 years maybe, or even longer, you have a whole new stage where everything is new. And you're trying to figure out, 'Okay, how do I do this?'

"Except (as people age) they stop talking about it. ... Everything is new, and you're old and new at the same time, and you're trying to hide it because you're not supposed to be so awkward, and yet, that is the truth, and so I responded very much to that."

In some ways, age is just a number when it comes to Doris and John, who make a soulful connection. "When you sit across from somebody -- no matter what age they are, no matter how many years separate the two of you -- down deep inside, that person and this person connect ... These two people connect the way humans need to do, yet they don't go together. So that was an interesting thing to examine. Now if I had been a man, and he had been a woman, it would be no big deal. It would be called an Audrey Hepburn film," she said.

For his part, Showalter knew that he needed an actress of Field's caliber and thoughtfulness, "Or there's no movie," he said. "And I just sort of saw my job as whatever I can do to help her give the performance that she wants to give."

The director asked for Field's trust, she gave it, and the two were off to the races, plumbing character and comedy. Field says she unlocked Doris during the costuming phase.

"It was when I started to play dress up at the racks and racks and racks of old, revolting clothes. Michael would come in at the end of the day, and with the really brilliant costume designer Rebecca Gray, we would show maybe the one costume we were able to put together ... And then Michael would say, 'Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I see that. I see that.' And that was kind of the beginning of our collaboration, as he began to see what was coming out of me," she said.

Though Field's Oscar wins are well remembered, she insists she's never been concerned with being accepted into the Hollywood establishment.

"That you've arrived and you're given regard and respect? I could give a rat's hind end. The only thing I want -- the only thing I've ever wanted -- is the opportunity to do good work."

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