Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2013?) is one of those movies that I always forget about due to its long long gestation period. I swear I've been hearing about it as long as Jodie Foster's Flora Plum or Jodie Foster's Leni Reifenstahl or a few of Terrence Malick's movies before they surfaced. Will it ever get made? Probably. This is Spielberg we're talking about and he's familiar with the green light. The biopic is now one small step closer to filming. Deadline reports that Sally Field is in as our seventeenth* First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
Spielberg says that Sally Field was always his first choice. I don't believe or disbelieve this exactly but I find it amusing that virtually every casting announcement for any movie (not specifically this one) comes with "they were our first choice all along" which simply can't be true 90% of the time we hear it else there would be very few auditions or screen tests ever held and precious little for casting directors to do other than fill up the bit roles and very little for management and representation to do other than negotiate.
At first the news felt odd and easily snarkable like "Sally Field co-starring with Daniel Day-Lewis? She's moving up in the world!" but then I quickly remembered that people -- apparently even myself. For shame -- are always underestimating her talent, probably because she's a "cute" actress as it were, and has been for her entire career. But I've seen enough of her work to know I shouldn't underestimate her. She's already proven herself on stage (she was a-ma-zing in a difficult role in The Goat or Who is Sylvia?), small screen (Emmys) and big screen (Oscars). She's one of those talents that "transfers" as it were. Plus: Daniel Day-Lewis isn't the only one with two Oscars in this marriage.
If you read up on Mary Todd Lincoln you'll find she was a pretty interesting woman with a very dramatic life: Her own family was torn up by the Civil War as she came from a border state, she outlived nearly all of her children, she was plagued by headaches and erratic behavior which some historians believe indicates that she was a manic depressive or bipolar). You have to wonder why some First Ladies don't get their own biopics.
The most peculiar thing about the casting is probably their age difference. Sally Field is 11 years older than Daniel Day-Lewis and we don't often see casting flip the gender/age disparity equation; Mary was 10 years younger than Abraham.
Here is the trailer to Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) which netted Raymond Massey and Oscar nomination for Best Actor (Ruth Gordon was not nominated as Mary Todd). John Ford's Young Lincoln (1939) the year before was only Oscar nominated for the screenplay.
No movie about Lincoln has been an Oscar powerhouse but you never know with that cast and director.
Spielberg's Lincoln is long enough away that perhaps we should be talking about Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012) instead. Itopens in 14 months and stars Meryl Streep's future son-in-law Benjamin Walker as Honest Abe. He's apparently cornered the market on blood splattered presidents. His breakthrough role was in the play "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" on Broadway (for which he turned down a role in X-Men: First Class) and all I can say about him is you're in for such a treat when you see him on the big screen. Major charisma he has. Big stardom awaits.
*Abraham Lincoln was the 16th US President but Mary Todd was actually the 17th First Lady since President #10 John Tyler remarried while in office after the death of his first wife.