Sally Field Clarifies Tom Hanks 'Ageism' Comments Related to 'Forrest Gump'

One of the most frequently cited examples of Hollywood ageism is Sally Field quickly going from playing Tom Hanks' love interest in Punchline to his mother in Forrest Gump. It was even at the center of the viral Inside Amy Schumer sketch "Last F—able Day." Although Field, 75, still believes ageism is a problem in the industry, she said in a new interview that the example with her and Hanks ignores the specifics of both movies.

In Punchline (1988), Hanks played a young stand-up comedian who helps Field's housewife break into the industry. Over the course of the film, Hanks' character becomes romantically interested in Field's. Six years later, Field played Hanks' mother in Forrest Gump (1994), even though she is only 10 years older. This is seen as an example of Hollywood deciding that Field – and other women in their late 40s – can no longer play romantic interests.

"I have to clarify that," Field recently told Newsweek, adding that it's "not true really" that she went from playing Hanks' love interest to mom in six years. "In Punchline, the first one we did together, I play this slightly older woman, I'm supposed to be ten years older, and he's this up and comer, and I'm this housewife," Field explained. "With the [age] difference, I am ten years older than Tom so it worked out."

"Then when we did Forrest Gump, I play a younger version of myself when he was a little boy," Field continued. "Then I age in the middle when he's a young man and then I go to very old. So it was a great opportunity to play with those three ages of, without prosthetics and things, being younger, then I was a little bit older, and then very much older. So it's not a fair example."

While Field does not think the example involving her fits the bill of "ageism," she still sees it as a real problem that is slowly being fixed because the audience is demanding it. "I do think it's changing," she told Newsweek. "Not because the industry wants it to but because the audiences are making them because there is a huge, huge audience in the world of older women and they are a lot of money. And so this industry, it's a great industry, it has a lot of good things about it, but it does things only because of 'where are the bucks?' And so it is changing."


Field's latest role is as Jessie Buss in Winning Time: The Rise of the LA Lakers, which centers on the Los Angeles Lakers' success during the 1980s. The show debuts on HBO on Sunday, March 6. The two-time Oscar-winner is also set to star in Michael Showalter's Spoiler Alert with Jim Parsons.