Sally Field doesn’t care about Tom Brady’s politics.
So what if the seven-time Super Bowl champion is friends with former president Donald Trump. Field’s new movie, “80 for Brady,” is about the quarterback’s performance on the football field, not whether he wants to make America great again.
“What do I say about that?” said the actress, who won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a plucky union activist in 1979′s “Norma Rae.” “This wasn’t about Tom’s politics, thank God. And, you know, if I spent a little time with him, maybe I could talk him out of it.”
“80 for Brady,” which opens in theaters Friday, features an all-star cast — Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin — as four octogenarian admirers of Brady who make it their mission to go to the 2017 Super Bowl. The game, as any self-respecting Patriots fan knows, turned out well, with Brady leading the team to the most dramatic comeback win in Super Bowl history.
Field — for the record, she’s four years shy of 80 — did, in fact, spend a little time with Brady on the set, and she found him to be “gracious,” “genuine,” and, of course, easy on the eyes. Their onscreen rapport even prompted former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, during a recent appearance on Brady’s “Let’s Go!” podcast, to suggest the QB ask Field out.
That amused the actress.
“I’m very flattered,” said Field, who’s been married twice and has three grown sons. “I mean, I’ll make him a peanut butter sandwich, give him a hard-boiled egg and put it in a paper bag and send him off to school. I can do that.”
Field’s filmography is long and illustrious; she earned her second best actress Oscar in 1984 for “Places in the Heart” and a best supporting actress nomination in 2012 for her role as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Speilberg’s “Lincoln.” Over five decades, Field’s been in 40-plus films, including memorable turns in “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “Forrest Gump,” and countless TV shows, from “The Flying Nun” to “Saturday Night Live,” which she hosted in 1993.
Field said the appeal of “80 for Brady,” in which she plays a retired MIT professor of applied mathematics, was the opportunity to work with Tomlin, Moreno, and especially Fonda, who’s been a “hugely important” friend for many years, though the two had never worked together.
“I have to give our young director, Kyle [Marvin], credit because he invited and allowed a lot of improv,” she said. “We were four women who were so excited to be together, talking and laughing.
“They actually had a hard time shooting,” Field said. “‘Ladies, we’re shooting! Ladies! We’re rolling!’”
In one scene, the four have to demonstrate their dance moves, and Field was lined up next to Moreno. It was intimidating to shoot because Moreno’s an exquisite dancer — she won the best supporting actress Oscar in 1961 for her performance in “West Side Story” — and at 91 she can still shake it. But during rehearsals, Field found she could keep up.
“I thought, ‘This is incredible. I have talent,’” she said. “Then Rita said to me, ‘I hate to disappoint you, but I was dancing down,’ trying to make it look like she wasn’t a dancer.”
Field also appreciated that the movie’s focus is the characters’ friendship and love of football, “not women looking for a man or how to make your husband better or taking care of kids.”
Because she raised three boys, the actress said she’s been a football fan for a while. “You had to be there with them, screaming and yelling.” But during the pandemic, Field said she developed an even greater interest in baseball.
“I became obsessed with baseball,” she said, name-checking a certain former Red Sox outfielder who plays for her favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Mookie [Betts] is absolutely astonishing, and I’m completely in love with him.”
While Field makes fewer movies than she once did, she’s still very much a working actress. The problem, she said, is that the pickings remain slim for older actresses looking for good parts to play.
“I certainly think there’s a lot more quality stuff for older men,” she said. “It’s always been the case of men having more opportunities and getting paid more.”
Asked which of her many roles she proudest of, Field said it’s impossible to choose. “Each one is uniquely different,” she said. “They’re like my children.” But “80 for Brady” surely ranks among the most enjoyable to make.
“And you can see it,” Field said. “You see a lot of that fun and a lot of that camaraderie.”
Mark Shanahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.