Sally Field feels “dangerously alive” when she’s acting.
The 76-year-old actress reflected on her lengthy career as she accepted a lifetime achievement honour at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on Sunday (26.02.23), remembering the “quiet thrill” of receiving her SAG-AFTRA card after filming her first role in 1965 ABC series ‘Gidget’ because she has never felt more like herself than when she was on stage or on camera.
She said: “I first found this stage when I was 12 years old in the seventh grade. And after that, I never left the drama department.
“It was the one place I could be really me, more than any other place when I got off stage. I felt shy and careful and hidden. I would think and rethink everything before I could say or do anything. But on stage, I never knew what I would say or do. I would surprise myself.
“I wasn’t looking for the applause or attention, even though that’s nice sometimes.
“Anyway, it’s never been about a need to hide myself behind the characters of other people.
“Acting, to me, has always been about finding those few precious moments when I feel totally, utterly, sometimes dangerously alive.
“So the task has always been to find a way to get to that — to get to the work, to claw my way to it if necessary.”
But the ‘Steel Magnolias’ star recalled the “fight” she had to stop herself being pigeonholed as a sitcom star, though she acknowledged her battle was more “lightweight” than other actors have experienced.
She said: “Struggling to climb my way out of the box of situation comedy in the ’60s and ’70s took a fierceness I didn’t know I had. But honestly, I was a little white girl with a pug nose born in Pasadena, California.
“And when I look around this room tonight, I know my fight, as hard as it was, was lightweight compared to some of yours.”
But while the journey of an actor may not be simply, Sally noted that: “Easy is overrated”.
The screen legend had been introduced to the stage at Los Angeles' Fairmont Century Plaza hotel by her ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ co-star Andrew Garfield, who praised her extensive body of work and social rights activism.
He said of her two Oscars, two Golden Globes, three Emmys and multiple other nominations: “She’s won a lot of s***. She’s won so much s***.”
Andrew also praised his on-screen aunt as a “north star – for all of us”.
He added: “You never drink the Kool-Aid of your brilliance.
“You never get high on your own supply. But tonight we’re going to try to make you.”