Old article but I love to read/listen to this woman think. Yes Ms. Foster, I would love to hear your analysis of every movie made. I love your acting but I love your intellect even more. I just wish you would share it more often.
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“I think what’s brave about the script,” for which Foster gives the bulk of credit to co-writer Cynthia Mort, “is that it doesn’t break character. It’s like a movie from the ’70s in that it doesn’t really make any judgment about her, even though she’s ashamed of who she is and hates who she’s become,” she says. “It just follows her journey without a bunch of tricks or dissolving to flashy things. There’s a real honesty to it. That will offend a lot of people.”
At the same time, Foster adds, “She is wrong to be doing what she’s doing. I mean, you know that, right? I hope you leave the movie theater feeling disgusted by her path, and by what happens to her. The fact that it’s not wrapped up in a bow might make it difficult for people to understand, but this is a movie about people who are wrong. I can’t say it any clearer than that.”
But is Erica wrong from the beginning, even when she confronts a man who guns down his wife in a 7-Eleven and then turns his pistol on her? Wouldn’t she have been killed herself had she not fired her Glock 9 mm at the villain?
“I’m not sure about that,” Foster demurs. “I mean, when was the last time you went into a 7-Eleven in Spanish Harlem at 3 in the morning? I mean, I’m telling you I’m not going into a 7-Eleven at 3 o’clock in the morning in Spanish Harlem. How stupid are you?
“For you to say she has no choice in the matter is a little naive,” she says, her voice quieting a little. “She does have a choice in the matter. She’s consciously moving in that direction because she lives in the night. She now lives in a world she had never experienced before. A world she walked by. A world where people get pissed off and kill each other. I think it’s a really interesting transition. And it’s very well constructed as a movie.”
You can forgive Foster her defensiveness, first because her combativeness is so good-natured. A lot gets lost in the movie version of her: Because she’s almost always in anguish — warring with an entire plane of passengers to find her missing child in Flight Plan, scrambling for her daughter’s insulin shot in Panic Room, being gang-raped on a pool table in The Accused — you never really see how pretty and funny and luminous she is, how at 44 (she’ll be 45 in November) her surgery-free face testifies to a life lived with conscious, self-protective discipline. (In other words, she has remarkably few lines.) A lot gets lost in the print version of her too. For all her serious talk, she has a big, pealing laugh that reminds me of the girls on the bus in junior high school who made you feel good about yourself if you were tough and smart, and very, very small if you were not.
She brightens up when you argue with her: “I don’t think Taxi Driver had an epigraph at the end saying, ‘You see, it’s really bad to kill people!’?” she fires back when I insist that Taxi Driver clearly didn’t endorse Travis Bickle’s vigilante rage in the way that The Brave One can be construed as endorsing Erica’s. “I mean, the guy becomes a hero and gets away with it,” she says, letting out a high, ironic laugh. “He looks in the rearview mirror and you know he’s going to kill somebody else!”
But you also might make room for her passionate defense of the movie because The Brave One is not a movie she stumbled upon; like Erica and the killer in the 7-Eleven, Foster sought this one out.
“As usual,” Foster says, “another actress was involved, and I read the script and said, ‘Wow, this is really something. I don’t think it’s ready, and I think it needs a lot of rewrites. But if for any reason it falls apart with her, call me up.’?”
That actress was Nicole Kidman, and things did indeed fall apart, as deals with Kidman sometimes do. (Foster took over for Kidman midshoot a couple of years ago on Panic Room.) Foster claims she had been bugging producer Joel Silver about the movie for a year, but when Kidman left to shoot The Invasion, he asked Foster to start shooting in eight weeks.
“And I said, ‘Oh, no, no, no!’ Remember how we talked about it needing a big rewrite?” She then spent six months in sessions with Mort, refining Roderick and Bruce Taylor’s original story, in which there was a “grain of an idea, not very well executed.”
The Taylors had written Erica Bain as a New York Times reporter, “and it was not good,” says Foster, a dedicated radio fan who has pulled her car over to listen more carefully to episodes of Ira Glass’ This American Life. “It was kind of Nancy Drew–ish and” — you get the feeling that she wants to say “flat” but catches herself — “I don’t know. Somebody who writes for a living spends time expressing themselves in a way that’s very different from someone who’s on radio. It changed the tone of the film. It added in the idea of somebody who’s up at night, who works at night, and who’s this voice in the night.”