'Lincoln’ role still has perks for Northside grad

Sun News correspondentJanuary 23, 2013 

The movie “Lincoln” has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for the movie’s director, Steven Spielberg.

No one was surprised by the number of Oscars that “Lincoln” was nominated for, but one former Warner Robins resident had more than a vested interest in the nominations, which were announced on Jan. 10. Terra Smith Elstun, a Northside High School graduate, had a small role in the film. She was originally hired to be the stand in for Sally Field, who plays Mary Todd Lincoln, but after arriving on set, she was asked to do a walk-on role as well. Elstun had the opportunity hear Spielberg speak at a forum a few days before the Oscar nominations were announced.

Spielberg was one of the guests at The Richmond Forum, which invites nationally known individuals to speak several times a year. Spielberg was a speaker at the January Richmond Forum, along with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote the book “Lincoln” is based upon, and Tony Kushner, the screenwriter for “Lincoln,” who has also been nominated for an Academy Award.

Elstun was invited to attend a private reception before the forum and then attended the lecture. She was able to speak with both Spielberg and Kushner and was amazed that Spielberg remembered her.

“I was able to talk to Steven about my day working on the film with him. He remembered me from the movie and commented on how matronly my costume was and my hair bun. He asked me how I got the part to work with Sally since that is such an honor; I told him I had no idea, and we both laughed,” Elstun said.

Elstun and Spielberg chatted about other details from the movie including Spielberg’s 40 year friendship with Field.

“I told him it was an honor to finally get to talk with him without all the strict rules of filming,” Elstun said.

During dinner, Elstun was seated with Kushner, and he detailed to her some of his experiences working on the script.

“He told me it took six years to finish it. It started as 800 plus pages, and he had to work it down to 200,” Elstun said.

The lecture portion of the Richmond Forum was filmed and will air on PBS.

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

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