Sally Field, 'Lincoln' Star, On Politics And Looking Back On 'Smokey And The Bandit'

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08:  Actress Sally Field attends NYFF 50th Anniversary surprise screening of Lincoln at Alice Tully Ha
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Actress Sally Field attends NYFF 50th Anniversary surprise screening of Lincoln at Alice Tully Hall on October 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Film Society of Lincoln Center)

It's kind of odd to think that, before this year, Sally Field hadn't appeared in a movie since the little-seen 2006 drama "Two Weeks." Thankfully, Field's return to theaters is impossible to ignore: She co-starred as Aunt May in the summer blockbuster "The Amazing Spider-Man," and can now be seen in Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated presidential biopic, "Lincoln."

"Lincoln" -- a timely release that was intentionally held until after the presidential election -- tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's political struggle to end slavery. The film, which is heavy on behind-the-scenes political intrigue, co-stars Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady of the United States, who, at this point in their relationship, is perhaps less of a romantic partner for her husband, and more of a trusted confidant.

Here, Field discusses why she's been away from movies for six years, why the political problems in "Lincoln" aren't that much different than today, and why we're still talking about "Smokey and the Bandit," 35 years later.

Before this year, you had not been in a movie since 2006. It's nice to have you back in movies.
Well, thank you. You know what? Honestly, you have to do the best with the things that are offered you. And if I can't get the role, I can't do it. So, staying out of films isn't an active choice -- it's they're hard to find and they're hard to get into.

Was it just luck that both of these movies happened in the same year?
Yeah, kind of. I was finishing [the television series] "Brothers and Sisters" and the only reason that I was in "The Amazing Spider-Man" was because my dearest, darling friend, Laura Ziskin, the producer of it -- she had been fighting savagely. She's a hero. She was fighting cancer and we weren't really sure that she was going to live very much longer. She asked me to be in it -- and, so, I did it for her. Because she and I produced her first movie together, "Murphy's Romance." And I wanted to be in her last movie. And I was. And that's why I was there and it turned out to be a really fun, great group and I loved it. [Ed. note: Ziskin passed away in June of 2011.]

It's hard not to think while watching "Lincoln," and Daniel Day-Lewis' charm is a big reason for this, "You know, I'd still vote for this guy."
Yeah! [Laughs] Yeah! Who wouldn't? You know, what he's showing is that he's facing a lot of the same difficulties that are being faced by President Obama as we speak.

We'd have to bring him up to speed on a few things, "This is the Internet. This is television."
Yeah, exactly.

It is strange to be watching a movie and be rooting for the Republicans. And I know how history works, but I mean in the sense that it's not something we're used to seeing in modern films.
Yeah, it's also a bit of a history lesson in there. You have to be patient to listen to it. I mean, 100 years ago, politics and the parties were very different -- and have actually flipped. And there were other parties. There were radicals within each of those parties. And the Republicans became the Democrats and the Democrats became the Republicans and some of the parties fell to the wayside. But, the battles and the entrenchment is pretty similar. And the enormity of what's at hand is equally as similar. So, Tony Kushner's script is so beautifully literate and poetic. But it's also very historic. And sometimes taking from the transcripts of the very debate that went on in the floor about the amendment. You have to be willing to listen and, if you are, then I think you're pretty amazed at our country.

That's an interesting point about the transcript. There was more antics and theater than compared to now.
I know. It's crazy. But, it's accurate. And that's who we are as a country and that's who we get to be. And it's time for us as people to fall in love with our country again. And even if it's through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln.

Since this premiered, there's been a lot of rave reviews. You've won two Oscars, is that something that you still think about?
I really don't. I mean, the only thing that matters to me is getting to the work -- getting to do the work. And I don't really care where it is: whether it's on stage or on television or in film. Or in your backyard, if you've got a good play. I had to let my ego go a long time ago. Because roles -- and good roles -- for women are so few and far between. Especially if you're not young. And so I really don't think of anything other than work. We all know that we were in this special, special, special piece. And we felt it. And all of us had the feeling that we were lucky enough to be a part of something that was really bigger than all of us.

One of the first movies my parents took me to see, and I wish more people knew about, was "Kiss Me Goodbye."
[Laughs] Isn't that nice your parents took you to that!

It was very nice! And it stuck with me and I'm surprised how many people don't know it, considering you, Jeff Bridges and James Caan all star.
Yeah ... and as a matter of fact, Jeff and I saw each other not long ago. We sat together at something and we were laughing about our filmic history together, which is really pretty funny. And, you know, that being one of them. We laughed about a lot of things that went on during filming. And it was really fun. It was really a fun movie. And, yeah, a lot of things get lost along the way. But, sometimes they get uncovered. Thank God for Turner Classic Movies, huh?

Another movie that is obviously not lost: When you were filming "Smokey and the Bandit," did you ever think we'd still be talking about that movie 35 years later?
Um, basically, no [laughs]. No, I did not. Did not. It was basically just, "put cameras on a car," then they said goodbye to us for the day. And we drove around and we came back. Who knew? You never know. You never know. You just do the best you can with what you've got ... and sometimes magic strikes.

I just watched it again a few weeks ago. Watching it again, it could have been really bad. But it still holds up as a really fun movie.
I think that's why it probably holds up.

And I've always been fascinated by "Punchline." For whatever reason, it didn't do that well, but I imagine that the world of stand-up comedy is not an easy subject to make a film about.
Well, again, Tommy Hanks and I talk about that in our filmic history. It was really great to film. It's actually a great story and who knows why it wasn't [a success]? You know, you can say one of those things -- it was sold wrongly. You know, it's a drama. It wasn't like a comedy and it was sold as a stand-up comedy and people were expecting to see that. If people revisit that someday, you'll go, "Wow, this is really interesting." Tom's character is fascinating.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.