'I Was Deeply Terrified, I Was Always Afraid': Sally Field Opens Up On The Dark Times Behind Her Glittering Career

In an Australian television exclusive, the iconic actress reveals details of sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father.

The two-time Oscar winner opened up to Lisa Wilkinson about her troubled home life stemming from her parents' split when she was just three-years-old.

But it was Field's complicated relationship with her step-father -- the man who would eventually go on to sexually assault her -- that she has carried with her into adulthood.

"As a child ... you get taught emotional language by the adults around you," Field tells Wilkinson on The Sunday Project.

Source: Supplied.

"When my mother married my stepfather he was big, and bold, and loud, and affectionate and dangerous, very troublesome," the mother-of-three and now grandmother-of-five, said.

"Whereas my real father, I was completely ignored... I mean I was required to visit him...but I didn’t exist," she said, adding that it was still a place she felt safe.

"And then the house I lived in with my stepfather, I was deeply terrified, I was always afraid, and [yet] I felt loved.”

Field, who detailed the extent of the assault in her recently-released book, 'In Pieces' said it was difficult to re-live the memories of her childhood while she spent seven years writing her memoir.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Sally Field promotes her book "In Pieces" at Barnes & Noble Union Square on September 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

"Re-living what my childhood was with my stepfather is hugely complicated and emotional... because he was so lovable at the same time that he was threatening," Field said.

"But I am who I am. Probably because of it," the three-time Emmy winner, added.

#MeToo Movement

Field also weighed in on the Me Too movement telling Wilkinson she was not surprised to hear of the extent of abuse in the industry adding that she had come across it in her decades-long career.

"But it’s being seen in Hollywood right now, and thank God. But it’s in every industry," Field said. 

"It’s not just harassment, I mean some of it is downright criminal... This has to change. And the outrage is the beginning of it”.
A life on stage and screen

The actress' glittering 60-year career has seen her garner fans from the stage to the screen,  after cracking her first TV role as a teenager starring as surfing girl-next-door 'Gidget.'

Despite the show being cancelled after just one season, Field quickly landed her very memorable role as the Flying Nun, which lasted three seasons until 1970.

The beloved actress has also starred in a string of fan-favourites on the big screen, including her 1993 role in Mrs Doubtfire playing opposite the legendary Robin Williams.

Actor Robin Williams and actress Sally Field in 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

She opened up fondly of her time on set with the much-loved star, describing Williams as a "deeply good man."

"Exhausting though, he had endless energy. And he’d want to do take after take after take because every take he would want to do something different," Field said.

"What drove him absolutely crazy is that he could never make me laugh. He would never break me up.... I would stay completely in character and Robin would do anything."

The 71-year-old who also played Mumma Grump alongside Tom Hanks, also opened up about her on and off-screen relationship with actor Burt Reynolds, after they starred together in Smokey and the Bandit.

Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. Source: Getty Images

Although their real-life relationship only lasted five years, Reynolds continued insisting that Field was his one true love up until his death earlier this month.

READ MORE: US Actor Burt Reynolds Dies, Aged 82

"I was always flattered when he said that. And I’m flooded with feeling that he’s gone now," Field told Wilkinson.

"He was a very important time in my life, but a short time in my life.... there’s parts of that that belong only to Burt and me”

Her book 'In Pieces' was released earlier this month and is available in Australia.

Watch Lisa Wilkinson's full interview with Sally Field on The Sunday Project from 6:30pm.

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au