Why Sally Field Hates When People Use Her Most Famous Quote

Being associated with a famous quote is a real honor but it can be antagonizing when your words are misrepresented. Just ask Sally Field, whose acceptance speech for Best Actress at the 1985 Academy Awards has been praised and panned ever since. Field won her first Oscar five years prior, for "Norma Rae." Elated by this second win, for "Places in the Heart," the actor concluded her remarks by gushing, "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!" (via YouTube). 

Unfortunately, her words almost immediately became altered in the public consciousness to: "You like me. You really, really like me," (via The Cut). Seemingly through repetition alone, this inaccurate version superseded Field's actual quote, and her intent was misconstrued, leaving critics to see her words as pompous or silly. Over and above her consternation at being incorrectly quoted, what really bugs Field is that her Oscars speech got distilled into a sound byte. As she confessed to Variety, in 2022, "Sometimes I want to punch them in the nose, but mostly because they don't ever say the context of what I said before."

The actor's entire speech includes Field discussing the difference between her two wins.  Since the first experience was so overwhelming, Field wanted to relish the second time. In addition, after being in "The Flying Nun" and on a dating game show, part of Field's happiness that night came from being seen as a serious actor. "I've wanted more than anything to have your respect," she admitted just seconds before that now-infamous final line. 

The actor knows success can be ephemeral

When Sally Field was a child, her mother and stepfather worked in the film industry. However, they struggled financially at times. Long after Field's stunning transformation into an iconic, Oscar-winning actor, these difficult circumstances made a lasting impression on her. When she won in 1985, Field looked back at the ups and downs of her career and viewed that particular moment with optimism. "That speech was about accepting that I'd achieved what I'd always wanted — which was to do good work and to have that work be recognized," she informed Oprah Winfrey in 2008 (via Oprah.com). 

In retrospect, Field acknowledged that she could have expressed herself more clearly.  However, an invasive warning light was used that year to let speakers know when they needed to leave the stage, and its jarring presence derailed her. While the actor worried that she didn't make her point, Field certainly didn't expect the jests and misquotes that dogged her for decades afterward. Even after earning two Academy Awards, Field wrote in her memoir, "In Pieces," that she still worried about future career prospects. 

Despite appearing in beloved movies like "Forrest Gump," during the early 2000s she continued to experience feelings of inadequacy. However, Field has also consistently expressed gratitude for the complex characters she's portrayed. "If awards are a gift, or a prize — for me, the gift has been having the opportunity to do this kind of work," she reasoned in a 2012 interview with Vanity Fair.

Field gamely made fun of her misquote

In 1994, Sally Field's 1985 Oscars speech was parodied in "The Mask"  when Jim Carrey's character gets handed a statuette and giddily says, "You love, you really love me!" (via YouTube). While Field doesn't let humorous jabs like these get under her skin,  she took control of the narrative in a 2000 Charles Schwab commercial. The ad begins with dramatic music and a closeup of Field delivering an exaggerated version of her Oscars speech. Instead of being onstage, however, she's in an office with a Charles Schwab associate. 

After an embarrassed Field leaves to get on the elevator, two women mock the actor with her misquoted mantra, and she sarcastically cuts them off. When it comes to awards, Field has had plenty more opportunities to take the stage. At the time of writing, she's won two Emmys and received SAG's 2023 Life Achievement Award. During her SAG speech, Field included the actors in the audience when she mentioned the career challenges they'd all faced. A year later, she wowed the crowd when Field presented an award at the 2024 Oscars.

Besides being able to laugh off criticism, the beloved star also understands that there are more important things than accolades. Field would rather spend quality time with her family than focus on past wins. The actor has three sons, and as she informed Oprah Winfrey in 2008, "To raise children who go on to be great parents is an accomplishment — that's the Oscar moment in life."