Two-time Oscar winner and star of Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, Sally Field joins The Last Word to discuss her political roles both on and off screen. After convincing Steven Spielberg to give her the part of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln in the film, Field portrayed the controversial character as one who received criticism for hosting elaborate parties at the White House as a two-pronged attempt to extinguish any notion that she was an unrefined frontier woman and to create a more stately image for her husband. Sally Field’s performance of Mrs. Lincoln offers probably the most accurate conclusion after 150 years of speculating her legacy.
“”You think I’m ignorant of what you’re up to because you have not discussed this scheme with me as you have ought to have done? When have I ever been so easily bamboozled? I believe you when you insist that amending the Constitution and abolishing slavery will end this war. And since you are sending my son into the war…Woe unto you if you fail to pass the amendment,” she tells her husband during one scene in Lincoln. Known for exerting too much control over her husband, Mary Todd was ultimately an influential political player during Abraham Lincoln’s tenure in the White House, especially during the pivotal months leading up to the end of the Civil War in 1865. Sally Field also discussed how Mary Todd Lincoln’s role as a spouse shaped Abraham Lincoln’s character.
“The two sides of this coin that came together that became Abraham Lincoln. I mean, she carried all the emotionality and he carried – he didn’t show any of it. But in some ways, he handed it over to her a lot and she felt everything that he wouldn’t allow himself to feel. You do see that in relationships, where one person is the one that feels everything and then the other person doesn’t really feel responsible for having to feel all the pains and angers, and that was Mary’s role.”
Outside of her first lady role, Sally Field has also been an influential activist for marriage equality as a mother to her openly gay son. In October of this past year, Sally Field was awarded the Human Rights Campaign “Ally for Equality” award and her openly gay son introduced her.
“There are a lot of young gay men out there who would kill to have her as a mom, and a lot of parents of gay children who could learn a lot from her. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with the phrase, ‘It gets better.’ Many teens especially need to know that life-saving and life-starting message when they feel rejected, blamed, hopeless or harmed. Growing up in my home, however, my mom made it better especially for me. “
“I really wanted to speak up because I have a very specific story that I think hadn’t been told and I’m outraged by the families that cannot learn from their children something that perhaps they’re rigidly holding onto from their past, that their children might be able to help them learn, that nature has given these young people you know – this was not Sam’s choice. This was what nature did. And he is gloriously Sam and I wouldn’t change one ounce of him, and the families that can’t embrace this and help their children embrace it in themselves, who shut them out of, not only their hearts but their homes, is unforgivable to me. It’s absolutely unforgivable. Because here, at the crisis time of these young lives, when they’re trying to sort out who they are. It’s hard under the best of circumstances, but you add this extra ingredient of society’s approval or disapproval, then they have no place to go? I’m sorry, that’s not right. And so, I spoke out.”