Opens Friday April 22 in Canada
Anne Brodie Interviews Michael Showalter
Sally Field goes for broke in the funny, whimsical and sometimes dark Hello, My Name is Doris. Field plays a sixty something woman who is finally free when her domineering mother dies. Doris sets out to find adventure, break out and hit it off with her crush, the new boss (Max Greenfield) who happens to be about three decades younger than she is. These are big steps for her; staying at home, going to bed early and obeying her mother are all she’s known, so when the time comes to bust a move, she’s more than ready. Field is magnificent and brave, taking the role for all its worth. Michael Showalter’s sensitive direction gives what could have been am off-kilter story real flair and we had the chance to speak with him.
Despite Doris being sixty-something, Sally Field says her social age is about sixteen. I guess her restricted life under her mother’s thumb made it so.
She was like a slave to her mother. She subjugated herself for her mother and buried herself. We know the mother was probably a big presence. A big influence on the movie is Grey Gardens you have the mother daughter relationship there and there’s an actual line of dialogue where the mother says to the filmmakers – “At least I lived a life!” and it’s almost like she’s getting one up on her daughter. She didn’t even get to live a life. It’s something similar.
She had her chances.
Doris starts to talk about how she was engaged and I imagined suddenly she’s sixteen although we learn there was this man in her life in her early twenties but she was emotionally young then too. It wasn’t like the last time she had an experience when she was sixteen but that’s where her emotional life is. After this guy who went off to Flagstaff, she shut down.
You went to some wild places.
A short film by Laura Terruso was the basis of the movie, in that short film Doris which is eight minutes long, you see her in the office with a crush on an intern. The short film is even more broadly comedic but her isolation actually is rebellion. She is very rebellious in a way and her rebelliousness was the kind of speed of her as a comedic protagonist.
You see it when she takes the pencil out of his shoulder bag. That gives you a window into the tiny little transgressions that she commits over the course of a day to feel alive. She’s not a prim and proper, she’s actually created a little world for herself where she can break the rules all time.
How did Field initially react to the script?
I wasn’t there but she when I first met with her for coffee after she read the script she said “Why did you, a forty- something guy want to write a movie about her… why you?”” She didn’t understand the connection and she also wanted to know how was I going to balance the broad comedy and the tragedy of the character.
To me they were all part of the interwoven tapestry, they go hand in hand. One feeds the other. The deep sadness is part of what makes the humour work for me. So I said creatively we’ll play the laughs for all they’re worth and the drama too.
The film’s an example of how important casting is. It walks a delicate balance in a woman’s life and might not have worked with someone other than Sally Field.
I agree that casting this role was going to be very hard. Obviously she was the one person we thought of. Sally Field had everything this character needs to succeed. She’s likeable and can handle the drama of it. A lot of actors can do some of that but few that can do it all. She could bring every aspect to the character, the depth and the also the humour and lightness. She has attractive qualities, she’s attractive and sexy and all sorts of good things.
How about Max Greenfield?
He loved the script. He’s a friend and was attached to film before she was. He was always a big supporter from the earliest.
The film is extremely bold even in 2016 as it depicts a romantic connection between people not of the same age group. You’d think it would no longer shock.
It shouldn’t matter. I don’t have a cavalier attitude about it. It raises my eyebrows older guy is dating a much younger woman. It’s a taboo, and there is probably a reason why we have concerns about it that too much of an age difference might not work out. There is a big bias where it can work in one direction and not in another, but the taboo should not exist.
You have an amazingly diverse and usual body of work to say the least. You’re a real one of a kind.
That’s kind of it, being good. I don’t have a thing that I’m looking for whatever interest me. I’m open to everything. I like things that are interesting. This movie is so comedic and dramatic and that’s one thing I’, drawn to. The material that is funny and operating on other levels dramatic or creepy or scary.
Are people ready for Doris?
The movie’s been out in America for a month. I know how people are responding. It’s a hit! People love it. The movie’s done well both with the critics and the box office.