(Credits: Far Out / MUBI)
In hindsight, professional actors typically have a handful of projects that they would not have taken on. While it may not have been the best career decision at the time, it usually comes down to what pays the bills, leading to many professionals taking on projects they aren’t necessarily invested in from the word go. Although Sally Field already had a great resume by the 2000s with roles in Forrest Gump, one of her most well-known efforts was something she could have done without.
Then again, there was a good chance that Sally Field would never have to work again before the 2000s started. Although she had turned in time working as an extra working in films as far back as the 1960s, Field had a true resurgence in the 1990s, making one colossal movie after another, starting with projects like Steel Magnolias. Although the film may have depicted a stunning drama for audiences worldwide, Field was not finished delivering outstanding performances.
When working alongside Robert Zemeckis on Forrest Gump, Field delivered a powerhouse performance as the titular Gump’s mother, playing to the character’s southern roots and delivering one of the most heartbreaking death scenes of her career. Outside of a handful of standout performances in the 2000s like Legally Blonde 2, Field wasn’t as proactive in searching for new roles until a specific superhero franchise came knocking.
Having already turned in time making music videos and indie movies like 500 Days of Summer, Marc Webb was the next up-and-coming director tasked with bringing the story of Spider-Man to life, which would turn into Andrew Garfield’s take on the character in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise. While Field would deliver a decent take on Aunt May, she would have skipped out on the whole thing instead.
When talking about her performance in both films, Field would say that her heart was never all that invested in the story of the webcrawler, instead taking on the role as a favour for producer Laura Ziskin, who had previously worked on the Tobey Maguire iteration of the character. Despite her performance, Field would later say that she found it difficult trying to put any type of dimension into her character.
Discussing the construction of her character after the fact, Field had a few colourful remarks about how little she had to work with on set, recalling, “It’s really hard to find a three-dimensional character in it, and you work it as much as you can, but you can’t put ten pounds of shit in a five-pound bag”. Even with her subdued performance, her role as the emotional anchor for Peter Parker is done perfectly, balancing being the mother figure in his life while also working at a hospital at the same time.
Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for this version of Spider-Man wore out its welcome far quicker than anyone imagined, with the intended third instalment being put on the shelf to give Tom Holland a chance to star as Peter Parker in the MCU. Considering how warmly fans reacted to Garfield reprising his role as the character in Spiderman: No Way Home, perhaps a third instalment of his brand of superhero could give Field time to flesh out her character more than she could before.