The Weekly

EXCLUSIVE: Sally Field breaks her silence

The Hollywood icon talks exclusively to The Weekly’s Juliet Rieden.

By Juliet Rieden

It takes courage to face demons, dark truths buried so deep you dare not speak their name and let them out into the light for all to see.

For Sally Field, one of Hollywood's most admired and well-known actors, double Oscar and triple Emmy winner, such a venture is frankly Herculean.

And yet as I sit in the soothing peace and quiet of her sun-drenched Los Angeles home, high up in the hills and canyons overlooking the impeccably blue Pacific, I sense a weight has been lifted from Sally Field's tiny shoulders.

At 71, the mother-of-three and grandmother of five, feels an urgent need to pull the multifarious pieces of her life together and it's a journey which started seven years ago.

Sally Field spoke out about the passing of her former flame and dear friend Burt Reynolds

Sally Field with her son Eli Craig, daughter-in-law Sasha Williams and grandson Noah when she was honoured with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.
Sally Field with her son Eli Craig, daughter-in-law Sasha Williams and grandson Noah when she was honoured with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.

It was Sally's 65th birthday when her mother, vivacious actress Margaret Field, who Sally has always called Baa – "probably because [Sally's elder brother] Ricky did" – died.

She was 89, had been ill for some while and Sally was heartbroken.

The mother and daughter were incredibly close, a bond that dictated both women's lives and not always in a good way.

As a child Sally craved the sparkle that was her mother.

"It literally was like a jolt of electricity going through you that lifted you off the ground. I felt so intoxicated with her presence. I was just joyful that she was in the room with me," explains Sally.

But when Margaret remarried and the controlling professional stuntman and actor Jock Mahoney turned family dynamics upside down, Sally lost her mum for decades as she faded into an alcoholic haze.

In the months before Baa's death, Sally nursed her mother and one evening summoned the nerve to seize the moment and broach deep-seated family secrets she desperately needed exorcised. Sally achieved some resolution – "Mum handled it magnificently" she tells me - but having let her mother go, she now had to make peace with herself.

"It felt that there was something festering and that I had to find out what it was," she explains. "I didn't know what it was and the only way I would know was to write it all down, bit by bit, piece by piece."

Sally with her mum, Margaret Field.
Sally with her mum, Margaret Field.

Although Sally and Baa had talked, there was still so much unsaid; intimate details, incidents, feelings, repercussions she hadn't had the guts to burden her dying mother with. Sally needed to set them free.

"It was the real thorn that wedged its way into me because I couldn't settle," she says hugging her knee to her chest as she nestles into the corner of her living room sofa.

"I thought I had done all the right things. We'd had those conversations. I had dotted the 'i's and crossed the 't's but something was terribly unsettled in me and it did not get better. It was not like you're grieving and this will move on. It wasn't."

Sally had always kept journals and now she felt compelled to write her life story exactly as it happened; things she had never revealed before and never thought she wanted to say out loud.

She had no clue if she could write or where she was headed, only that wounds would be opened, and though petrified, she was resolute that this had to be done.

The resulting memoir, In Pieces (published by Simon & Schuster, on sale September18) is not only audacious and deeply personal, it's a seriously accomplished piece of writing. Sally's passion and persistence to overcome shocking daily trauma and fulfill her destiny as an actor of substance takes your breath away, as does her ability to fearlessly recognise her own shortcomings.

Read our tell-all interview with Sally Field in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, on sale now.

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