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Curio: Jodie at 25

Alexa here, kicking off the Jodie Foster celebration. In hearing that Jodie Foster turns 50 on Monday I was reminded of this old issue of American Film I have that includes an interview with her when she was only 25 and promoting The Accused.

It was a transitional time for her... [continue]

 The Accused marked her first real meaty, adult role, but despite this she still hadn't shaken off all the interest in her ordeal with John Hinckley Jr. or her childhood roles.  And while she represented the most self-assured of young actors out there, she still managed to be intimidated by her Juilliard-trained costar Kelly McGillis.  Here are some excerpts.


On her plans to direct:

Like nearly everyone else in Hollywood, her future plans include writing screenplays and directing. But the professionals in Foster's orbit insist she really does have the self-assurance and determination to make it happen. "Of all the actors I think would make great filmmakers," says Jonathan Kaplan, director of The Accused, "she's the one who will actually do it."

On the audition process for The Accused and reluctance to cast Jodie:

No one flung down a welcome mat outside of The Accused production offices when Foster became interested in the part. In fact, producers Sherry Lansing and Stanley Jaffe were reportedly resistant to casting her in the role, though neither of them remember it that way. "You have to put it in the context of wanting to choose the best person for the part," says Lansing. "When Stanley first met with Jodie, she had been at Yale for all these years - no one had seen her."

Foster's version [of her audition] illuminates the canny self-assurance of a Hollywood veteran: "I would never wear anything overly 'babe' to a reading. It's like putting on a postman's hat at an audition to play a postman; it's tacky. I thought they wanted to see a tough girl. So I wore a black sleeveless turtleneck, black jeans, and cowboy boots. I wasn't prepared at all for that stupid screen test. I didn't know any of the lines. [Jonathan Kaplan] threw me in a room for ten minutes and I learned a five-page-long monologue."

But in Kaplan's mind at least, their reluctance had little to do with how well suited she was for the part. "It was obvious from the very first frame of the screen test that she was great in the role...but a factor, I think, in everybody's mind was the baggage she would bring to the role. Like, the fact that she'd been through the whole Hinckley thing might be distracting for the audience."


 On the Hinckley ordeal:

"it was a very weird time," she begins tentatively. " I was doing two weekends of a play [Marsha Norman's Getting Out]. One weekend happened and then...Reagan got shot...and then I had to go back and do the next weekend's [preformance]. It was, uh, standing room only. And the odds were against anybody [in the audience] getting the play...that's not why they were watching."

One of the post-Hinckley problems was that she now had security men assigned by Yale to protect her. How do you slip out of the spotlight and back into the student population when you're traveling en masse? "I'd be sitting in the library," she sighs, "and people would run the gamut of human responses. Some people were wonderful, and the there were the five percent that...fulfill your worse nightmares of how people react under the circumstances."

On her mother:

"I could pick a friend and take them with me [on location]," Jodie admits. "But they would be a bad influence on me. Meaning, they would make me drink, or go out, or not get any sleep...My mom, she keeps me stable...and centered."

On making The Accused:

The experience of making The Accused turned out to be a prolonged and exhausting weight on her shattered emotions. Her self-trained confidence was derailed by co-star Kelly McGillis's precise Juilliard technique ("Ask her to cry and she can say, 'How much? Which eye? When?'"). 

This period of personal bewilderment aside, Foster discovered that not always being in charge could have an exhilarating effect on her work. "I think [The Accused] really turned me around ," she says. "Acting shouldn't be your own form of therapy, but at the same time it makes you grow up. For a couple of weeks, I thought [The Accused] was too challenging for me - it made me feel as if I wasn't a very good actor. But now I'm kinda proud that I got through it, that I'm not wearing a big white strait jacket and going like this," says Foster, wrapping her arms comically across her chest and making a crazy face. " I think this film really changed how I looked at acting. I could finally look up and say, 'Oh. This is what I want to do when I grow up.'"

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Reader Comments (17)

I remember being very moved that Foster was the unanimous--yes, UNANIMOUS--choice for Best Actress by the National Board of Review. Don't know if that's happened before or since. Aside from Glenn Close in "Dangerous Liasons," I don't think any other actress delivered a performance of that caliber in 1988.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDback

I love reading old interviews!

Dback -- Well, really? That year is well known for the amount of mesmerizing performances we got and it is one of the few we all wish there were six or seven nominees at least.

Accused has an enormous impact on me. The fact they go after the ones who cheer and applaud is genius. Unfortunately no one is doing the same thing with bullying at schools.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Genevieve Bujold in Dead Ringers, Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham, neither of them were nominated and they're better than the winners.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Christine Lahti should have been nommed for Running On Empty. The scene with her and Steven Hill alone leaves me an emotional wreck.

I love Genevieve Bujold in Dead Ringers, but that role was supporting. And she should have been nominated and WON for that category.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I agree Sarandon is good but is standard sexy stuff that she is known for Bujold is supporting plus Glenn was way due and was the best of 88.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark

3rtful -- yes, imho Susan Sarandon deserved the Oscar that year for BULL DURHAM. Glenn Close a close second.

brookesboy -- love it when people have seen RUNNING ON EMPTY. That film should have been swimming in Oscar nominations...

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

Interesting post. I love old articles of stars right before a role launches them to bigger things. To hear her tell it, she's always everyone's last choice for roles she really wants. Maybe that's why she's more or less stopped acting.

Btw, has Jodie ever had as much as onscreen chemistry with anyone as she did with Kelly MgGillis?

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenteraleX

aleX, I agree she had mad chemistry with Kelly. I also think she had amazing chemistry with Barbara Harris in Freaky Friday as daughter and mother, though the screen time together was short.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I don´t think Jodie Foster deserved the Oscar for THE ACCUSED. In fact, Glenn Close as Madame de Merteuil in DANGEROUS LIAISONS, Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain in A CRY IN THE DARK, and Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey in GORILLAS IN THE MIST were so much better... Amazing perfomances!
And yes, I´d prefer Susan Sarandon in BULL DURHAM and Christine LAHTI in RUNNING ON EMPTY instead of Jodie and Melanie Griffith.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErick Loggia

a) It was a great performance. Great stuff.

b) It was not the best of the year, no way.

c) But the best was not Glenn either. Glenn Close was never the best. And Cher was the best the year before.

d) my winner: Gena Rowlands, Another Woman.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Glenn Close was never the best. And Cher was the best the year before.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The AMPAS ignored Alex Forrest, because they couldn't snap out of it. A round of boiled bunnies for all concerned.

And there was nothing standard about Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham. Her Annie broke the mold.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

I love Moonstruck, I love Cher in that movie. Alex Forrest is Close's best performance ever, BUT I loved Cher. It's one of the best movie star performances ever.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal -- mostly serious question: is there a year you DIDN'T think Gena Rowlands deserved it and exactly how many Oscars have you given her. I've seen Another Woman but frankly I don't remember much about her in it... although it was years and years and years and years ago (upon release actually since I started attending Woody faithfully starting in 1984 when my brother took me to Broadway Danny Rose)

November 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Well, I think you should totally re-watch Another Woman. It's not a showy performance in terms of Oscar (she does a lot of listening and thinking), but I think she's marvelous. She would be among my top 5 that year.

Nathaniel, since we're discussing 88, I do remember Weaver being the favorite, but not a lock. Am I wrong? In fact, Close only had the overdue factor. The Globes and the critics ignored her.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I would have given Gena four Oscars: A Woman Under The Influence, Opening Night, Love Streams and Another Woman. I'd like to give her five to make her top Katharine Hepburn, since she is the best American movie actor ever, but I can't make her win for Gloria or Minnie and Moskowitz or Unhook the Stars (but I'd nominate her for sure).

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Katharine Hepburn deserved only two of her Oscars...she robbed both Anne Bancroft and Marsha Mason. Bette Davis should have been the first woman to win three Best Actress honors when she should have won for All About Eve. Please pass me a Tums.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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