Sally Field plays an older woman in Hello, My Name is Doris, but the actress compares her character’s experiences to the awkward pangs of adolescence.
During a recent Sirius XM town hall hosted by PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle, Field described the circumstances that lead to her eponymous character’s romantic pursuit of a younger man (Max Greenfield).
“It’s about an older woman, obviously, who’s spent her entire life hiding away, really taking care of her mother. It was her choice, but still — she did it.” Field says. “At the beginning of the film, she’s got borderline personality issues, having to do with, ‘Is she on the spectrum of hoarding?’ She lives very much in a fantasy world that she creates for herself. Her mother passes away, and it begins a change in her life.”
That’s when Doris meets John (Greenfield) and decides “that’s what she wants in her life — this young man,” Field says. “But it really is about this bait, this something that pulls you out of where you are, and invites you to move on in your life. That’s the challenge for all of us as human beings. How do we move on to the next chapter in our lives, and stay open to who is next? Who will I be next? What else will happen? What else will I become? Or will we cling to the safety of who we once were?”
Asked about Doris’ sheltered existence, Field added, “She’s emotionally sort of stunted in a way. … So her emotions just lingered and stayed dormant somewhere inside of her. And when she decides to move on, you see her just take this burst, and move forth in all the awkward, painful newness that adolescence is.”
Field noted how human beings go through different stages through life nearly every decade. “How do you incorporate this new place into your being, and own it, move into it, and now see what’s left of you?” Field said. “That’s where Doris is when we meet her.”
Directed by Michael Showalter, Hello, My Name Is Doris premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival last year, and arrived in theaters on Friday. In addition to Field and Greenfield (New Girl), the film stars Tyne Daly, Beth Behrs, Natasha Lyonne, and more.
See Field discuss Hello, My Name Is Doris above; the full Sirius XM Town Hall with Field debuts Thursday, March 17, at 2 p.m. ET on EW Radio.