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.
By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“So I made a big decision to go to college, even when everyone said, ‘Your career will be over. There aren’t any child actors who live past 16 or 17 anyway. And here you are, taking off, and that will be the end of that.’
“And I thought, ‘Well, that will be the end of that, then! I guess we should sell our house and move into someplace smaller. Because I could see that if I didn’t go to school, that choice would be taken away from me. And once you get the feeling that your life will be taken away from you, you start preserving it at every instance.”
In the end, it’s Foster who brings up John Hinckley. “I mean, don’t forget that I was 18 when John Hinckley shot the president,” is how she puts it. “It’s not like I got off scot-free.”
She wrote about the Hinckley episode in a heartbreaking piece for Esquire, divulging in the process her quest for normalcy among her classmates at Yale, where she earned a degree in literature. “It was a terrible, very, very difficult thing for me to be an adolescent and a post-adolescent, in the public eye,” she says. “A terribly, terribly difficult thing.”
There are times in Jodie Foster’s life when she’d still like to do a different job. “I don’t think I was born to be an actor,” she says. “Some people really were. You can see them as little kids with the lampshade on their head, and they dress up in all kinds of little outfits, and you think, Wow, this kid was really designed to be an actor. But I’m always thinking of other jobs I could have. I’m thinking, they have these writers, like William Goldman for example, who the studios will kind of keep on staff for the whole year, and when there’s a problem, they’ll call him up and say, ‘Oh, we have a serious problem on this movie. We’re sending you to the set and you’ll spend two weeks telling them what’s wrong.’ That to me would be a dream job.”
In the meantime, there’s acting. She is currently shooting Nim’s Island in Australia, with Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin, “a total G-rated kids’ movie” Foster’s children can actually see before they’re 18, about a little girl who draws an agoraphobic scientist out of her protective lair. She would also like to do a Masterpiece Theatre–type series on French television about American movies from the ’70s, “this golden age of American movies. You’d do Lenny one week, and Straw Dogs another week and Panic in Needle Park the next, and then you’d do little documentaries also, and you’d highlight the movie and talk about certain scenes and say why this scene is that and pay attention to that.” The French, she says, are the only ones who could appreciate that series, “the only people who have an appreciation for an academic look at movies. Americans, unless they’re in film school, don’t really care. In America, sometimes talking about movies ruins it for people.”
She has tried her hand at directing, with Little Man Tate (1991) and Home for the Holidays (1995). (Another project, Sugarland, in which she would have been giving direction to her old co-star, Robert De Niro, has been put on indefinite hold.) “But it’s one of the great disappointments of my life so far that I haven’t directed more,” she says. She has been developing a biographical movie, a holdover from her now-defunct production company Egg Pictures, about Leni Riefenstahl, the controversial photographer who never joined the Nazi party but served it well with her documentaries Triumph of the Will and Olympia. “It’s an amazing, fascinating life,” Foster says, “and I think a really interesting stepping-off point for talking about the moral responsibility of the artist. Once again, it will be terribly controversial.”
If that movie gets made, and controversy follows, it will be a controversy that Foster, with her exquisite gifts for conversation and literary exposition, will be eminently well-equipped to answer. Just as she is proving to be with The Brave One.
“I know full well that if [The Brave One] were coming out on seven screens and starring Sandrine Bonnaire instead of coming out on 3,000 screens, we wouldn’t be having the conversations about it that we’re having,” she insists. “We have a different narrative standard for mainstream movies than we do for movies that attempt to talk about things in a more sophisticated way. And there will be lots of unsophisticated people who see this movie and have a reaction that’s different than what I would hope.
“But you can’t dumb down your movies so that everybody has their happy ending. You can’t make it so that everybody feels better. There are some things you just can’t control.”