“Madame President, if you please. Oh, don’t convene another subcommittee to investigate me Sir. I’m teasing.”
– Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln
“It’s politically incorrect to say it, but you’ve had more lives than Sybil,” Mo Rocca told Sally Field in his interview with the actress playing “the role of the imperious, difficult, mercurial first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln,” on today’s CBS Sunday Morning.
At the age of 66, the actress has had a nearly five-decade career on screen, from surf girl Gidget to the Flying Nun, to Sybil, and then 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, followed by later Oscars for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart — what Rocca characterized as a career “built on playing ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances.” But, she told him, when he joked about her Boniva spokesgig status being the only thing that gives away her age, “my bones are strong.”
Field gained 20 pounds to play the first lady adding, “I hope it shows in the movie,” telling Rocca how she had to lobby for the role (“I’m ten years older than Daniel. Mary was ten years younger than Lincoln”). When Spielberg told her she wasn’t cast, she insisted on a test with Daniel Day-Lewis (“I somewhere brought Mary up inside of me to be feisty enough to say ‘Test me. You owe me a test.'”)
The Sunday Morning segment was filmed at Lexington’s Mary Todd Lincoln House, the first lady’s girlhood home, with Field telling Rocca, “it was a wonderful city to shoot in.”
This isn’t Field’s first content connection to Lexington. She famously won an Emmy playing Sybil, the most infamous case of what was then called multiple personality disorder. (The book and movie, Sybil, were based on the case of Shirley Ardell Mason, the artist who quietly lived out her days on Henry Clay Boulevard in Lexington until her death in 1998 at the age of 75.)
This also isn’t the first time Field has shared the screen with some of her Lincoln castmates. Rocca asked her if she really had bitten costar Tommy Lee Jones during the filming of 1981’s Back Roads, and she demonstrated how she had.
Rocca concluded the segment, “one thing is sure, whatever Sally Field sets her sights on, she goes for it. And yes, that’s why people like her. Really like her.”
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln opens in theaters nationwide Friday, November 16. Lexington’s Mary Todd Lincoln House will host a Mrs. Lincoln’s Favorite Things Tour on December 13, 2012, in honor of the first lady’s 194th birthday.