Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' gets its Mary Todd: Sally Field


Image Credit: Angela Weiss/Getty Images; Everett Collection

President Abraham Lincoln’s troubled First Lady will be played by Sally Field in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming historical drama Lincoln, DreamWorks has announced.

“I’m excited to be working with Sally for the first time,” Spielberg said in a statement. “I’ve admired her films, and she has always been my first choice to portray all the fragility and complexity that was Mary Todd Lincoln.” In addition to suffering the assassination of her husband, Mrs. Lincoln also lost two of their four sons in childhood, including one during her husband’s time in the White House, and another died at age 18 while she was still alive. She was also a Kentuckian, and many of her relatives were part of the Confederacy during the war, leading to family members fighting against other family members, which weighed heavily on her. She was said to struggle with depression, or possibly bi-polar disorder, according to some historical theories, and occasionally suffered breakdowns and public outbursts. 

The decision to cast Fields was announced by Spielberg and Stacey Snider, his partner in DreamWorks. Lincoln is set to begin filming in the fall, with plans for a late 2012 debut.

Daniel Day Lewis has already been cast as the 16th president in the film, which is based on the book Team of Rivals, about the conflicting ideologies the Civil War leader accepted in his cabinet, and how those differences of opinion helped save the union.

“To have the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis and to play one of the most complicated and colorful women in American history is simply as good as it gets,” Field said.

The movie has a rich Pulitzer-winning history. Team of Rivals author Doris Kearns Goodwin has earned the prize, and screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America) has also received the honor. With multiple Oscar-winners such as Day Lewis, Field, and Spielberg involved, this one is shaping up as the kind of movie that tends to break a trophy shelf.

For more film news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter @Breznican.

Read more:
Daniel Day-Lewis to play President Lincoln in Steven Spielberg biopic
Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln': Could this be the most awards-laden cast ever?

Comments (63 total) Add your comment
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  • E

    I. Can’t. Wait!

    • Lily

      Me neither. OMG. Daniel Day as Lincoln, & Sally Field & Steven S. Awesome!!!

  • megan

    Im really suprised that this is the first time Spielberg and Field are working together. This film sounds promising

  • DFT

    The name Doris Kearns Goodwin should always be preceded by the words “noted plagarist.”

    • Anne


    • truthsquad

      Yes because we should all be judged and permanently branded by one incident in our lives….never forgive, never forget, never move on…geez!

  • Cate

    Hoooooly damn. This sounds like it’s going to be amazing.

  • RT

    I sorta had Jessica Lange in mind, but this could really work.

    • Pittner

      I’m a fan of Jessica Lange but now she has that weird plastic surgery face that will look very odd in the 1800s.

      • Angie

        I agree. Love Lange, but damn, she messed up her face real bad. I’m sure that Sally has had something done, but she has been smart to do it progressively and prudently, making sure her facial features still look human and Sally-Field-like. By the way, watch it…she’ll get an Oscar nod for this. The Academy loves her, snd they also love Spielberg. Add a complex role in a historical epic about a beloved President in a high profile film and you know this will be remembered come Oscar night…

      • RT

        Yeah, I know what you mean. It was just that Lange was the first actress I thought of for MTL when I heard about the project.

  • Chelsea

    Wow, I had no idea Tony Kushner is screenwriting! Angels in America is a masterpiece. Daniel Day Lewis and Spielberg would’ve been enough to get me to go see this, but with Kushner and Field on board, this sounds epic.

    • wils2821

      A Bright Room Called Day is awesome too!

  • SC

    Sally Field is considerably older than Mary Todd Lincoln would’ve been during her husband’s presidency. In fact, she’s older than Mary Todd Lincoln was when she died.

    Though with modern makeup, I suppose that’s not a big issue.

    • abadstroller

      “Mary Todd Lincoln in the housssssse!” Sally will do great as alternately strong, neurotic, domineering, and fragile–as long as she keeps it under control and doesn’t overdo it Sybil-style.

    • Ce

      Not only that she is also 11 years older than DDL, but as you said the make up may not show the difference. With that said, it does sound like it’s going to be a fantastic movie.

    • Laurie

      I love Sally Field but that was also the first thing I thought of when I saw this casting. MTL was in her 40s when Lincoln was in office. The actresses playing her tv children these days are more age appropriate.

  • Derek

    she may be 11 years older but she looks 15 years younger than she should. Love to be able to see her do something worthy of her talen. She hasnt had a meaty/morose role in a while. Though I am cautiously optimistic

  • Julius

    I’ll b there opening night! Late 2012 is going to have some strong releases; this, “Man of Steel”, and “The Hobbit: Part 1″!

    • Stephanie

      Picking those three make you a well rounded person, sir!

  • K

    Sally Fields as Abraham Lincoln, he’s taking this in an interesting direction.

  • Tom Bergeron

    Kinda hoping for Gwyneth Paltrow…

    • Stephanie

      Really? Can’t picture it at all. First off, she’s waaaaaay to young for the roll. Second she doesn’t have that American Historical look about her, more British. Probably hence all the British work. lol

      • Haha

        I think the Berg was referring to GP hilariously portraying MTodd on Glee.

      • peggym

        yes, it was so hilarious watching her make fun of mental illness.

      • abadstroller

        Peggym: GP’s Glee character Holly is dippy-goofy. More like showing how “off” Holly is, than MTL. That’s how the character is written. Acting, don’t ya know….

    • Bea

      Tom Bergeron……..You are crazed.

  • Brian

    Yes!!! I love it when Sally graces the big screen!

  • gigi

    A lot of Lincoln movies in the works. This one sounds very appealing.

  • Dr. Linus

    Excellent choice Mr. Spielberg. I’m excited about this one for sure. It has a good pedigree.

  • Justin K

    I’m kinda excited to see this movie.

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