Sally Field: How I Became Mary Todd Lincoln

Steven Spielberg initially rejected her—twice
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2012 11:36 AM CST

(Newser) – Sally Field, who stars as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, started wishing for the part before Team of Rivals, the book on which the movie is based, was even complete. Spielberg promised to consider Field in 2001, but by the time Daniel Day-Lewis came onboard as Lincoln himself, Field was a decade older than him—while Mary was 10 years younger than Abe in reality—and 15 years older than Mary had been in 1865. Ultimately, Spielberg called to tell her she wasn't getting the part: “He said, ‘We’re not wearing prosthetics. The lighting will be harsh,'" Field tells New York.

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But she was undaunted. "I said, ‘I don’t care what I look like as long as I look like Mary Todd. And I will look like Mary Todd!’" Spielberg agreed she could do a screen test, but ended up rejecting her again after that. Field continued begging, so Spielberg let Day-Lewis see the screen test, and the actor agreed to do a final audition with Field. She prepared by steeping herself in Mary's life. Upon seeing Day-Lewis for the first time at the audition, "I gave him my hand," Field recalls. "I looked up and said ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ and he said ‘Mother.’ That’s what they said to each other. I felt this audible hush in the room.” After an hour of improvising as the Lincolns with Day-Lewis, Field finally won the part. Click for the full profile or check out the glowing reviews of Lincoln. (Read more Sally Field stories.)

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