Sally Field Abe Lincoln
Credit: Angela Weiss/Getty Images; Everett Collection

President Abraham Lincoln’s troubled First Lady will be played by Sally Field in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming historical drama Lincoln, DreamWorks has announced.

“I’m excited to be working with Sally for the first time,” Spielberg said in a statement. “I’ve admired her films, and she has always been my first choice to portray all the fragility and complexity that was Mary Todd Lincoln.” In addition to suffering the assassination of her husband, Mrs. Lincoln also lost two of their four sons in childhood, including one during her husband’s time in the White House, and another died at age 18 while she was still alive. She was also a Kentuckian, and many of her relatives were part of the Confederacy during the war, leading to family members fighting against other family members, which weighed heavily on her. She was said to struggle with depression, or possibly bi-polar disorder, according to some historical theories, and occasionally suffered breakdowns and public outbursts.

The decision to cast Fields was announced by Spielberg and Stacey Snider, his partner in DreamWorks. Lincoln is set to begin filming in the fall, with plans for a late 2012 debut.

Daniel Day Lewis has already been cast as the 16th president in the film, which is based on the book Team of Rivals, about the conflicting ideologies the Civil War leader accepted in his cabinet, and how those differences of opinion helped save the union.

“To have the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis and to play one of the most complicated and colorful women in American history is simply as good as it gets,” Field said.

The movie has a rich Pulitzer-winning history. Team of Rivals author Doris Kearns Goodwin has earned the prize, and screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America) has also received the honor. With multiple Oscar-winners such as Day Lewis, Field, and Spielberg involved, this one is shaping up as the kind of movie that tends to break a trophy shelf.

For more film news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter @Breznican.

Read more: