Though Spielberg had offered Sally Field Mary Todd Lincoln’s role in 2005, by the time the film was being cast, he’d changed his mind.
“By the time it was going to be made, the original person [Liam Neeson] had dropped out and Daniel Day-Lewis came on board, and from the time that he first asked me, a little voice inside me said, ‘You’ll never do it, Field. You’ll never do it,'” Field said.
The problem? Her age.
“I’m 10 years older than Daniel and 20 older than Mary Todd Lincoln, and I thought, ‘This is going to be a problem.'”
Spielberg shared her worries. “Yes, I don’t see you with Daniel. Sorry,” he told her. But Field wouldn’t give in.
“I said, ‘Steven, test me! I’m not walking away!'”
Nice guy Day-Lewis flew in from Ireland “out of the graciousness of his heart” and Field and Day-Lewis did “some bizarre improv, but I became Mary and he became Mr. Lincoln for about an hour!”
Field was nervous about her audition, but it all worked out in the end. “When I got home the phone was ringing, and Steven and Daniel were on the phone saying ‘Will you be Mary?'”
I’m thrilled that Field, a fine actress, got this role and apparently did great things with it. But um, “holy hell” means you auditioned? That’s holy hell? Really?
Field talked to The Hollywood Reporter as part of a roundtable of actresses, including Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, and Amy Adams.