Sally Field Speaks Up
Ladies' Home Journal: Who's more outspoken, you or your TV character, Nora?
Sally Field: Sometimes I can't tell the difference between us! Nora's very much someone who tells you what she's thinking. She talks first and lets the chips fall where they may, and that's me. She's also deeply involved with her children's and grandchildren's lives and so am I. The big difference is Nora doesn't have a career or a life outside her family, and I've always had my own life. Nora at 60 is trying very hard to figure out who she is as a woman because for most of her life it was all about her husband. There are precious parts of herself she never developed. I feel a little bit more peaceful as time goes on -- but just a little. My friends and I talk about what happens when you hit 60. You begin to have the privilege of owning your own history.
LHJ: Has playing Nora allowed you to meet real mothers of war vets or have they reached out to you in any way?
SF: Just the other day, someone stopped me in the airport to tell me about a family member who's still over there. Or I'll hear that a son was killed. I hear it all the time and I pray for those families. It must be just awful for them. What's really awful is how poor the help is for these brave men and women once they get home. This country has never respected the mental health of its returning soldiers, and they deserve all the help they can get after serving their country. They need sophisticated, ongoing treatment but the expectation is, if you're a soldier, you swallow your feelings and move on. That's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace, and I hope we can address that issue on Brothers & Sisters.
LHJ: You've always appeared to be so grounded and sane. How have you managed to stay normal in a place like Hollywood?
SF: I don't really know. I'm not sure I agree that I'm so sane. If I am, it's certainly taken me a long time to get here, to develop a sense of self. I went through most of my life not knowing who I was. But what saved me was my children. I had children so young -- I was 23 when I had my first and had two by the time I was 25 -- that I didn't have time for anything else. Even when I was having success with Gidget and The Flying Nun [her popular TV series during the '60s and '70s], I didn't have time to get real precious with myself. You have to make lunch. You have to get the kids to school. You go to work.
LHJ: How do you think life would be different if you were starting out today in show business?
SF: I can't imagine the pressure these young people are under. I thought it was rough, juggling a high-profile career with raising a family, but now you look at someone like Britney Spears and think, we had it easy. When I began, there were a few fan magazines but there was no Entertainment Tonight and certainly not the 24-hour media force that the Internet has become. Entire industries have been created to make money on Britney Spears and that's grisly. I can't imagine what it's like for her children to be caught up in that gossip.