Sally Field gained 25 pounds to win Lincoln role

The 66-year-old actress had a lot going against her when fighting for the role of Mary Todd Lincoln. But once she convinced Steven Spielberg it was her role, she had to do everything she could to portray the former first lady in the best way possible.

Sally Field

Sally Field worked hard to win the role of Mary Todd Lincoln in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Lincoln, and that dedication didn’t end when she was given the role. The actress said she had to gain 25 pounds to look more like the former first lady.

“It was hard; it was very hard,” Field told Jay Leno, according to Us Weekly. “It wasn’t as much fun as you would think. First of all, it was horrifying because I’m of a certain age, and I kept thinking, ‘If I don’t do it right, I will drop dead halfway through this, and someone else will get the role!'”

The 66-year-old actress is more than 10 years older than her on-screen husband, Daniel Day-Lewis, so her on-screen appearance had to be genuine. When President Lincoln died, he was almost the exact age Day-Lewis is now, but Mary Todd Lincoln was only 46 years old, which is 20 years younger than Field. The differences put the pressure on Field to look more like her character.

“I tried to do it healthy, [but] I understand there isn’t any way to do it healthy,” she said. “I ate brown rice and these protein drinks made out of stuff called ProGain… Oh God, it was just disgusting. I never had a fun meal, basically. It just was discipline.”

The weight loss was more difficult than the weight gain, and Field is still feeling it. She made sure to do it the right way, but gaining 25 pounds all at once isn’t something any body expects.

“I stopped eating, and I’m hungry now,” Field joked to Leno, according to Us Weekly. “It took me about six months to gain it and about a year to lose it. I began to work out like a mad fiend. I had two trainers. I really worked out hard, four times a week. I eventually had to have knee surgery. My little frame couldn’t hold this amount of weight.”

Lincoln opened on Friday in select locations, and it will open nationwide Friday, Nov. 16.

Photo courtesy Bridow/


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