Northside grad nabs small part in ‘Lincoln’ movie

November 28, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Terra Smith Elstun, a 1991 Northside High School graduate, worked on the set of the new Steven Spielberg feature film, “Lincoln,” and has a small role in the movie.

Elstun, who had never done any type of acting before, lives in Richmond, Va., near where parts of the movie where filmed. She attended an open casting call in September 2011, as much for the experience of seeing thousands of people lined up as a chance to be a part of the film.

“All the other people in line had pictures, head shots,” said Elstun. “I just had a resume.”

After standing in line for hours, Elstun talked to a casting director, who took her picture and asked her not to cut her hair until she heard back.

Four months later she received a phone call asking her to be a stand-in for Sally Field, who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln in the film.

“A stand-in is not actually filmed,” Elstun said. “I was on the set; they would place me where Sally Field would be standing; fix all the furniture; do the test shots; then pull me out and insert her.”

Originally only slated to do the stand-in work, after she arrived at the filming, Elstun was offered a walk-on role as well.

She appears near the end of the movie and is seen escorting Field out of the room where Lincoln died.

The full scene Elstun filmed was cut. During filming, Elstun stood by the bed of Lincoln, portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis, hugged Field after he died, walked her out of the room, sat with her and held her hand.

Elstun received personal direction from Spielberg, who asked her to walk Field down the hall faster.

“It was surreal, Steven Spielberg telling me what to do,” Elstun said.

To prepare for the shot, Elstun spent about two hours having her hair done and about an hour and a half in makeup. She was dressed by Joanna Johnston, Academy Award-winning costume designer.

Elstun, who will not receive an official credit because she did not speak, said the experience was one she will never forget.

She said while working in the movie business came with a different set of rules -- no cell phones allowed to ensure no pictures were taken and no one speaks except Spielberg during filming -- most were easy to follow.

But she did have one problem.

“I just couldn’t quit smiling. Here I was, working with Steven Spielberg, Sally Field, Daniel Day-Lewis. Crew members would ask me, “ ‘Why are you smiling? This is not a happy film.’

“I just couldn’t help myself.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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