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Sally Field Overcame Sexism to Become a Hollywood Legend

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Sally Field currently has a little indie that’s turning into a giant critical hit, and now the Hello, My Name Is Doris star is chatting with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Editorial Director Jess Cagle to reminisce on her decades-long career as an actress on stage and screen.

The two-time Oscar winner reflects on what inspired her as a young actor, telling Cagle that growing up female in the 1950s felt repressive at the time, but ultimately allowed her to become a better performer. “I lived in an environment where emotions and all the colors that women are were really not allowed at the dinner table, or in the living room, or anywhere. There was a very tight parameter you had to live within – how you dressed, how you sat, and who you were,” she says. “When I got onstage, it was the only time I felt that all the pieces could come together. It wasn’t that I was being somebody else, it was that I’m finally me, and I could be angry, and I could be mean, and I could be all of the colors that were simply not acceptable.”

The Norma Rae star also opens up about the process of starting a family while filming The Flying Nun. “I was absorbing and drinking in the camaraderie and learning what a set was and the crew was I never thought of it as being a product,” she reveals. “I was pregnant with my first child, [so] all of my focus was somewhere else. My life was happening beside itself. My focus was on what was happening inside of me.”

Field also touches on her son, Sam, who came out as gay. “Sexuality is a human glorious part of existence, and in Sam’s case, certainly nature told him what to be, and it wasn’t something he looked to be. He found it difficult to grapple with,” she says. “It’s specifically difficult in this country because we come from such a puritanical foundation [with] these terrible phobias, prejudices, and inability to welcome our own sexuality into our lives.”

Cagle also gets Field to play a game of word association with her Steel Magnolias cast mates, and probes her to comment on her former relationship with Burt Reynolds. When Cagle asks her to respond to Reynolds’ assertion that Field was the one who got away, she offers a simple, matter-of-fact response: “Well, yeah,” she says.

Watch the entire interview with Field in the video above, and check out EW Radio for more from the Jess Cagle Interview.