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Sally Field will have a place in the Lincoln White House

April 13, 2011 |  4:51 pm

Sally
Sally Field has been on the big screen only a few times in the past 15 years, but if you're making a comeback, may as well do it in a big, awards-baiting way.

The two-time Oscar winner has been cast as Mary Todd Lincoln in "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's historical drama about the 16th president, playing opposite title character Daniel Day-Lewis in the DreamWorks production.

The story is largely one of politics, particularly centering on the last years of Lincoln's life and abolition/the Civil War. The Field role is expected to be substantive. Spielberg noted the actress' ability to depict the "fragility and complexity that was Mary Todd Lincoln." (Field, incidentally, will also be seen in the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man;" she currently stars in ABC's "Brothers & Sisters.").

"Lincoln" aims to shoot later this year for a planned 2012 release; it's based on Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin's nonfiction book "Team of Rivals" and has a screenplay from Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner. So there may be an awards push. (Lincoln-era America is back in the theatrical zeitgeist: Robert Redford's "The Conspirator," about the trial of accused John Wilkes Booth conspirator Mary Surratt, opens this weekend.)

Prior to Field's casting, speculation had actresses in their 30s and 40s playing the Mary Todd character; indeed, at 64, Field is already older than Lincoln was when she died. She will play a character far younger in the storyline explored here -- she was in her late 40s when her husband was killed.

In another, less historical take on the Civil War-era White House,  "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,"
the Mary Todd Lincoln character will be played by an actress not often associated with Sally Field: "Scott Pilgrim" star Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

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--Steven Zeitchik

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Photo: Sally Field in "Brothers & Sisters." Credit: Michael Desmond / ABC