When Sam Greisman had a heartfelt conversation about coming out gay with his mom, the legendary actor Sally Field, he hadn’t known that his words would inspire a scene in Brothers and Sisters, the TV series that his mom starred.
Earning a Primetime Emmy for performance role as Nora in Brothers and Sisters (2006 to 2011), Sally Field headed an ensemble cast, that included Rachel Griffiths, Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe, and Matthew Rhys, who plays Kevin, her gay son.
Speaking of the episode where Kevin comes out gay, Gresiman, 35, drafts in an essay honoring his mom, “…a frank, heartfelt conversation about my queerness was used verbatim for a scene between her and Matthew Rhys. Still waiting on a retroactive writing credit on that, if I’m being perfectly honest…”
Greisman, the youngest of Field’s three sons, references roles his mom played with milestones in his life, and says, “I grew up so connected to my mom that I can trace my life through her career.”
When Field was on set with the late Robin Williams for Mrs. Doubtfire (1994), Greisman was building model airplanes that he hung all over their rented San Francisco home. When filming Forrest Gump (1994) with Tom Hanks, Field bribed her son nightly, with a toy from the store in Beaufort, S.C in exchange for Greisman to sleep without a pacifier.
When Field made her professional stage debut in the 2002 Broadway production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? Greisman fell in love with New York. He later went to school at NYU, which also holds a memory of his mother, who delayed shooting in her first week of Brothers and Sisters to help her son move into his dorm.
Greisman remembers that he was on his best friend’s couch when Field called, telling him she was cast in the 2012 historical drama Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the leading role. Greisman shared, “…a year and a half later, at dawn, on a rainy morning in L.A., I scrambled out of my room and banged on her door to tell her she had been nominated for a third Oscar. ‘Congratulations,’ I said. She hugged me. ‘I did it, Sammy,’ she whispered. Though my mother has always been my protector, it’s moments like those that have been the greatest gift. To see her as more than “my mom,” chances to see her as her own person, with her own wishes and desires and vulnerabilities.”
He continued, “She has given me the chance to see her as a woman and an artist, always striving to be better, always looking around the next bend, willing to be vulnerable. She’s taught me what it means to have passions, how to dedicate yourself to a craft–to be willing to care, no matter how much you achieve, even if it breaks your heart.”
Field’s dedication to diversity in her craft is demonstrated in the vastly different roles she’s played since she first started acting. Her career took off in 1965’s Gidget, where she plays a boy-crazed teenager, then playing a Flying Nun (1967 to 1970), to a runaway bride turned booze bandit on Smokey and the Bandit (1977 and 1980).
Perhaps her most memorable performances are roles that allowed her to express her maternal instincts. On the screen, Field played a fierce mom caring for her dying daughter, Julia Roberts, in Steel Magnolias (1989), a struggling mom in her award-winning performance in Places in the Heart (1984), a supportive mom on Forrest Gump, a mom learning her way on Mrs. Doubtfire, a mother scorned in Not without my Daughter (1991), and her Emmy-award winning performance as the bipolar mom on the TV show ER (2000 to 2001).
But closely mirroring the real-life relationship she has with her son, it’s her performance as the loving mom to a gay son on Brothers and Sisters that really stands out.
Greisman, a self-proclaimed “momma’s boy” admits that he’s “perhaps too obsessed with her.” He continues, “Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest, by sixteen years. Maybe it’s because I was a shy little kid and my mom was a safe space; a hip I was attached to. Maybe it’s because gay men feel a certain undeniable affection for award-winning actresses. Who knows! Whatever it is, we have always been incredibly close.”
Field, 76, who advocates LGBTQ rights, does more than just support her son. In 2018, she played matchmaker, hoping to set up her son with Olympian Adam Rippon, one of the first openly gay U.S. male athletes who qualified for the Winter Olympics.
The pair met at the 2018 Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner, where Rippon was honored with a Visibility Award. While they seemed cozy at the event, there’s no information on how it played out after.
Speaking with a great deal of devotion to his iconic mother, Greisman writes, “My mom has given me permission to be messy, to struggle, to fight with her, to rage at her when I have no one else to yell at, given me permission to pick out all of her award show dresses, because… well, no explanation needed.” He continued, “She has taught me that life, like art, is about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, like she has done countless times. And luckily for me, I know that when I fall she will be there to pick me up. Even when she’s not there.”
Life like art, Sally Field is a fierce and supportive mom deserving of accolades from Sam Greisman, and from the industry for her six decades of stellar performances! We all love Sally Field for her acting and we’re so happy that Sam shared his memories so we know she’s also a wonderful mom!