Sally Field Talks Fluorescent Jumpsuit and Other Quirks in 'Hello, My Name Is Doris'

Meriah Doty
·Editor

At this point in her career, Sally Field only does movies she’s truly passionate about. That’s what the 68-year-old, two-time Oscar winner told Yahoo Movies over the phone this week when discussing Hello, My Name Is Doris. In the forthcoming indie film, Field plays an extreme late bloomer who falls for a decades-younger co-worker, played by Max Greenfield from New Girl.

Watch the first trailer above, exclusively on Yahoo Movies, and read our interview, where Field explains why her character is so peculiar and why she doesn’t go clubbing with millennials in real life.

Who is Doris and how does someone like she, who seems a bit out of touch, believably occur in the world?
She’s an eccentric. She’s cut off from society. She’s a woman of a certain age who never really had a life. She stayed with her mother when her mother was ill — and her mother was probably very problematic and was always ill. Some people have said it’s as if the daughter from Grey Gardens started to date. This woman’s life turns completely around when her mother passes away. She really hits her adolescence [laughs]. She begins to flower and have a late adolescence in her late 60s.

Doris almost reads as if Gidget [who Field played in the eponymous ‘60s TV] never realized she’s all grown up.
Not exactly. In a very unique way this film doesn’t take a look at age, but takes a look at people and relationships. No matter how old we are, inside we’re still the people we always were. I know that I walk down the street, and I’m not thinking about anything, and sometimes I flash and I think, “Wait a minute, I’m not 16! I’m 68!” We remain who we are no matter how old our bodies become. I think that’s what this is about. These two people who become so close to each other are conflicted by that.

Doris’s outfits are astonishing, especially that fluorescent jumpsuit.
Her wardrobe is very much a part of who she is. She’s a hoarder. Her mother was much more of a hoarder than she — but still, she lives in a very confined world. She has very little money so she goes to thrift shops and finds things on the street. Her clothes become her comrades. She has no sense of what she should look like so she just puts on what pleases her, what’s artistic to her.

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How did you find all of those eclectic clothes?
It was a huge task. Costume designer Rebecca Gregg and I worked really hard to do it. We collected every piece of old clothing on the planet earth. Now, mind you, this movie cost nothing to make so she had no budget whatsoever. The fact that she could create that kind of wardrobe that’s so unique with no money — it was a lot of days of trying on every piece of old clothing she could gather together finding a way to create the character out of the clothing and I think that’s what we did.

This was written and directed by Michael Showalter who wrote and appeared in Wet Hot American Summer [both the movie and the Netflix series]. This is his second feature film directing, also co-written by Laura Terruso. It’s a decidedly a smaller project than your last leading role in Lincoln. What got you onboard?
It’s the same thing as Steven [Spielberg]’s piece. It really was about the character. This is equally as unique as Mary Todd [Lincoln] in her own way. Right now when you get something in your mid-to-late 60s it’s usually pretty predictable as to what it will be — and this was not. It was really a whole different story about a human being. And it’s really funny.

Are you a fan of Wet Hot American Summer?
As Michael Showalter knows very well… I’ve never seen it. But my sons know his work really well. He has a big following that I really didn’t know all that much about. But I adore Michael Showalter. He’s a spectacular director — really inventive, supportive, funny, generous, and smart. We all had so much fun even though we felt like we were shot from a cannon trying to get this thing done. And I’ve worked with a lot of directors.

You socialize with a group of millennials in the movie. Did you do anything similar to research the role?
[Laughs heartily] No. I wouldn’t do that because Doris doesn’t know anything about that. The part of me that doesn’t know about that world very well served Doris, who didn’t know anything about that world. I don’t do that club scene.

What was your most memorable day filming?
We had three days in New York after shooting totally in Los Angeles. There was one day where we spent half the day — which, I swear, seemed like eight days — going back and forth on Staten Island ferry. We did nothing but take the ferry, get off the ferry, turn around again, get in line, and go back on the ferry. We needed all the various shots of Doris on the ferry. There was one moment where we missed the ferry and all of us were sitting on the floor, waiting for very last ferry back to New York City. We were all scavenging for food, all the snack bars are closed, saying, “Does anybody got any M&Ms left?” Anybody who was coming home from work had to walk over this group—what looked like dead people laying on the floor, fighting over the last M&M, begging that the popcorn stand would open up. That was at the very end of the shoot so we knew that we were done.

At this stage in your career, how much work do you seek and what guides your choices?
I seek whatever work comes to me that I want to do. It’s what’s always guided my choices — That’s not true, there were some times I chose roles because I needed to support family. But it’s different now. I just seek something that makes me think or feel, something that makes me sit up and go “Oh! This I want to do.” And that doesn’t happen a lot.

Hello, My Name Is Doris enters select theaters on March 11.