When Sally Field was cast in Lincoln opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as his first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, the pair of Oscar winners engaged in a very modern aid to building their relationship - texting.
''We met only once before filming began but he and I had been texting each other - he started it, not me,'' the 66-year-old film and TV veteran admits with a smile.
''He would send me things like little limericks or notes out of the blue, and we began to build a thread of intimacy. But we texted each other totally in character, so that was very hard … to figure out how to use that vernacular, the way they spoke back then, and I would sometimes just be tortured over how I would respond to him!''
The Steven Spielberg-directed drama focuses on the final four months of President Abraham Lincoln's life in 1865, when he tried to end the American Civil War and pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. Field portrayed the woman who had married him at 23, convinced he would one day become president, but had since lost two of their four children before adulthood (another would die of pneumonia in 1871), sending her into a downward spiral that created a complicated relationship for the pair.
Field first became famous at 21 in the TV series The Flying Nun and won two Oscars, in the films Norma Rae (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984). Her best-known films include Sybil, Smokey and the Bandit, Mrs Doubtfire, Steel Magnolias and Forrest Gump, and she also won an Emmy in 2007 for her role in the TV series Brothers and Sisters.
Spielberg first considered her for the role in 2005, when he planned to make Lincoln with Liam Neeson, but seven years later he told her he had doubts about her playing opposite Day-Lewis, who was 10 years her junior when Mary was actually a decade younger than her husband. ''So I begged him to test me, and Daniel flew in and tested with me,'' she recalls.
''I was determined over everyone's dead body … because by then I'd been learning about her for many years and knew what a fascinating woman she was, and Steven and Daniel called me together that night and said, 'Will you be our Mary?'''
Field, a mother of three and grandmother of four, admits it's tough in Hollywood if you are a senior citizen. ''The ageism is just dreadful, as if women have no value after childbearing age. I just say, 'This is what I am', and I'm going to age because that's what I'm supposed to do, so I try to stay as healthy as I can and then find roles that really talk about being an older woman.''
GENRE Biographical drama.
CRITICAL BUZZ The film is a must-see movie - more for Daniel Day-Lewis's Oscar-calibre performance than whether you care about American history or not. Nominated for 12 Oscars.
STARS Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones.
DIRECTOR Steven Spielberg.