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Jodie Foster

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Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster Césars 2011 cropped.JPG
Foster in Paris at the 2011 César Awards ceremony
Born Alicia Christian Foster
(1962-11-19) November 19, 1962 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Education Bachelor's degree (magna cum laude)
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Actress, producer, director
Years active 1968–present
Spouse(s) Alexandra Hedison (m. 2014)
Partner(s) Cydney Bernard (1993–2008)
Children Charles Foster
Christopher Foster[1]
Parent(s) Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (née Almond)
Lucius Fisher Foster III
Awards Full list

Alicia Christian Foster (born November 19, 1962),[2] known professionally as Jodie Foster, is an American actress, film director, and producer. Foster began acting in commercials at the age of three, and her first significant role came in 1976 as a child prostitute in Taxi Driver, for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1989, for playing a rape victim in The Accused. In 1991, she starred in The Silence of the Lambs as Clarice Starling, a gifted FBI trainee, assisting in a hunt for a serial killer. This performance received international acclaim and her second Academy Award for Best Actress. She received her third Best Actress Academy Award nomination for playing a backwoods hermit in Nell (1994). Her other best-known work includes Contact (1997), Panic Room (2002), Flightplan (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Brave One (2007) and Elysium (2013).

Foster made her directorial debut in 1991 with Little Man Tate; she also directed the films Home for the Holidays (1995) and The Beaver (2011). In addition to her two Academy Awards, she has won three BAFTA Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, the Cecil B DeMille Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has often been cited as one of the best actresses of her generation.[3][4]

Background and education[edit]

Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962 as the youngest of four children of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (née Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III. Her father, a decorated U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel turned real estate broker, came from a wealthy background and left his wife before Foster was born.[5] She saw him only a few times during her childhood, and never established a relationship with him.[6][7] Foster and her older siblings Lucinda "Cindy" Foster (b. 1954), Constance "Connie" Foster (b. 1955), and Lucius Fisher "Buddy" Foster (b. 1957), were raised by her mother and her partner in Los Angeles.[8][9][10] Brandy Foster worked in public relations for the film producer Arthur P. Jacobs until focusing on managing the acting careers of Buddy and Jodie.[6][10]

Foster was a gifted child, and learned to read at the age of three.[6] She attended a French-language prep school, the Lycée Français de Los Angeles, graduating in 1980.[6] At the graduation, she delivered the valedictorian address for the school's French division.[6] Although already a successful actor by this time, Foster then attended Yale University in order to get away from the familiar environment of California and the film business for a change.[7][11] She majored in literature and graduated with a B.A. in 1984.[12][13] She returned to Yale in 1993 to address the graduating class, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the university in 1997.[14][15]

Foster is fluent in French and has acted in French films as well as dubbed herself in French-language versions of most of her English-language films.[16][17] She also understands Italian although does not speak it,[18] as well as a little Spanish[19] and German.[20][21]


Early roles (1968–1975)[edit]

Foster's career began with an appearance as the Coppertone girl in a television advertisement in 1965, when she was only three years old.[6] Her mother had intended only for her older brother Buddy, who had already achieved some success as a child actor, to try out for the part, but took Jodie with them to the casting call, where she was spotted by the casting agents.[6][22] The Coppertone television spot led to more advertisement work, and in 1968, to a minor appearance in an episode of the sitcom Mayberry R.F.D., in which her brother starred.[6] Foster was also in a commercial for Crest toothpaste.

Under the management of their mother, Jodie and Buddy Foster became the main breadwinners of the family in the late 1960s and early 1970s.[22] During this time, Foster appeared in over twenty prime time television series. Most of her television appearances were minor, but she had recurring roles in The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969–1971) and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1973). She also voiced characters in the animation series The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972) and The Addams Family (1973). Foster's first film role was in the television film Menace on the Mountain (1970), which was followed two years later by her feature film debut in the adventure film Napoleon and Samantha (1972), opposite Michael Douglas and Johnny Whitaker. In the film she played Samantha, who befriends a young boy named Napoleon (Whitaker) and his pet lion. During the filming, she was accidentally grabbed by the lion, which left her with permanent scars on her back.[23] The same year she also had a small role in the drama film Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch, and in 1973 appeared in two children's films, the Western One Little Indian and the Mark Twain adaptation Tom Sawyer.

Foster with Christopher Connelly in a publicity photo for Paper Moon (1974), in which she had one of the first starring roles of her career

Foster had two significant roles in 1974. The first was her first starring role in a television series in ABC's Paper Moon, based on the hit film and co-starring Christopher Connelly. It was however a flop and was cancelled after only one season.[24] The second was a supporting role as a "Ripple-drinking street kid" in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, the first in what would be a series of "edgier" roles in drama films in the following years.[6]

Taxi Driver and teenage stardom (1976–1981)[edit]

While Foster was already a successful actor by the age of ten, her breakthrough into stardom did not take place until 1976, when she appeared in five films, two of which were chosen for competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May. These were Martin Scorsese's controversial drama Taxi Driver and Alan Parker's feature film debut, gangster musical Bugsy Malone. In the former, Foster played Iris, a child prostitute who becomes the obsession of the film's disturbed main character, Travis Bickle, played by Robert de Niro. The role was highly controversial and Foster's older sister Connie had to act as her body double in sexually suggestive scenes.[25] It was both a commercial and critical success, winning the Palme d'Or and earning Foster an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. She later commented that the film "completely changed my life", and that playing Iris was "the first time anyone asked me to create a character that wasn't myself. It was the first time I realized that acting wasn't this hobby you just sort of did, but that there was actually some craft."[6] In Bugsy Malone, which had an all-teen cast, Foster played Tallulah, gangster's moll and the star of a speakeasy show. It was not a commercial success, but earned mainly positive reviews. For her performances in the two films, Foster was awarded two British Academy Film Awards in 1977: the BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.[6]

"I think all of us when we look back on our childhood, we always think of it as somebody else. It's just a completely different place. But I was lucky to be around in the '70s and to really be making movies in the '70s with some great filmmakers – the most exciting time, for me, in American Cinema. I learned a lot from some very interesting artists – and I learned a lot about the business at a young age, because, for whatever reason, I was paying attention; so it was kind of invaluable in my career."

–Foster on her experiences as a child star.[26]

The same year, Foster also appeared in a starring roles as a girl dying from a heart condition in Echoes of a Summer and as a homicidal orphan in the suspense film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Actress – the youngest actress to ever receive the award. In addition to her film roles, on 28 November, she hosted Saturday Night Live,[27] becoming the show's youngest host up to that time.[28] Her final role of the year was as a teen girl who accidentally changes bodies with her mother in the Disney hit comedy Freaky Friday, released in December. For her performance, Foster received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

In 1977, Foster starred in the French film Moi, fleur bleue (fr), which also included three songs sung by her. They were released as two seven-inch singles, "Je T'attends Depuis la Nuit des Temps" , backed with "La Vie C'est Chouette",[29] and "When I Looked at Your Face" backed with "La Vie C'est Chouette". She also had a role in the Italian comedy Casotto, and starred in the Disney adventure Candleshoe, opposite David Niven and Helen Hayes. Her last film appearances before taking a hiatus to attend college were in Adrian Lyne's debut feature film, the teen drama Foxes (1980) and in Carny (1980), a drama set in a traveling carnival.

Adult career[edit]

Foster at the Governor's Ball after winning the Best Actress award for The Accused (1988) at the 61st Academy Awards on March 29, 1989

Foster made the transition to more mature roles as an adult, but it was not without initial difficulty, as several of the films in her early adult career in the 1980s, such as The Hotel New Hampshire,[30] Five Corners,[31] and Stealing Home,[32] were financially unsuccessful. Due to this, she had to audition for the main role of gang rape victim Sarah Tobias in The Accused, which was to become her breakthrough role as an adult. Based on a true story, the film depicts Tobias' struggle to receive justice for herself. It received mainly positive reviews and earned Foster a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award as well as a nomination for a BAFTA Award.[33]

In 1991, she starred as FBI trainee Clarice Starling in the thriller The Silence of the Lambs opposite Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. The film became an unexpected box office hit, grossing nearly $273 million in theaters[34] (equivalent to $473,000,000 in 2015) and became Foster's first blockbuster.[35] She also received her second Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, as well as her first BAFTA Award for Best Actress for her performance. The same year saw the release of Foster's debut feature film as a director, Little Man Tate. It was a critically acclaimed[36] drama about a child prodigy, in which she also co-starred as the child's mother. The following year, Foster founded a production company called Egg Pictures in Los Angeles, which produced primarily independent films for distribution by other companies. She said that she did not have the ambition to produce "big mainstream popcorn" movies and, as a child, independent films had made her more interested in the movie business than mainstream ones.[26] The company was closed down in 2001.

Foster's next roles included playing a prostitute in Woody Allen's comedy Shadows and Fog and Laurel Sommersby in the American Civil War drama Sommersby. She starred in two films in 1994, first in the commercially successful western spoof Maverick[37] and later in Nell, in which she played an isolated woman, raised speaking an invented language, who finds it difficult to be confronted with civilization for the first time. Her performance in Nell earned her nominations for her fourth Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and an MTV Movie Award, and won her a Screen Actors Guild Award and a People's Choice Award, among others.

The following year Foster released her second film as a director, Home for the Holidays (1995), a black comedy starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr.. In 1996, Women in Film awarded her the Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[38] In the same year, Foster was awarded with the Berlinale Camera award at the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.[39]

Foster made her debut in a science fiction film in 1997, when she starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in Contact, based on the novel by scientist Carl Sagan. She portrayed a scientist searching for extraterrestrial life in the SETI project. She commented on the script that "I have to have some acute personal connection with the material. And that's pretty hard for me to find."[citation needed] Contact was her first experience with a bluescreen. She commented, "Blue walls, blue roof. It was just blue, blue, blue. And I was rotated on a lazy Susan with the camera moving on a computerized arm. It was really tough."[40] The film was another commercial success[41] and earned Foster nominations for numerous awards, including a Golden Globe. In 1998, an asteroid, 17744 Jodiefoster, was named in her honor.[42] Her next starring role was in Anna and the King, a remake of the 1946 film based on Margaret Landon's 1944 novel, which became an international commercial success.[43]

Foster with co-star Mel Gibson at the premiere of The Beaver at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The film was Foster's third feature film as a director

In 2002, Foster took over the lead role in the thriller Panic Room after Nicole Kidman dropped out due to a previous injury.[44] The film costarred Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam and Kristen Stewart and was directed by David Fincher. It grossed over $30 million in its opening weekend in the United States, Foster's biggest box office opening success of her career so far.[26] Her next screen appearance was in a supporting role in the French film Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) (2004), following which she returned to English-language films with the thriller Flightplan (2005), which opened once again in the top position at the U.S. box office and was a worldwide hit.[45] She portrayed a woman whose daughter disappears on an airplane that her character, an engineer, helped to design.[46]

In 2006, Foster co-starred in Inside Man, a thriller directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen, which again opened at the top of the U.S. box office and became another international hit.[47] In 2007, she starred in The Brave One directed by Neil Jordan and co-starring Terrence Howard, another urban thriller that opened at No. 1 at the U.S. box office.[48] Her performance in the film earned her a sixth Golden Globe for Best Actress nomination and another People's Choice nomination, for Favorite Female Action Star. Commenting on her latest roles, she has said she enjoys appearing in mainstream genre films that have a "real heart to them."[49]

In 2008, Foster starred in Nim's Island alongside Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin, portraying a reclusive writer who is contacted by a young girl after her father goes missing at sea. The film was the first comedy that Foster starred in since Maverick in 1994, and was also a commercial success.[50] The following year, Foster provided a voice for Maggie in a tetralogy episode of The Simpsons titled "Four Great Women and a Manicure."[51]

Foster returned to directing in 2011 with the black comedy The Beaver, starring herself and her friend and Maverick co-star Mel Gibson.[52] Based on a script by Kyle Killen, it tells the story of a depressed CEO of a toy company, who develops an alternative personality based on a beaver hand puppet.[53] It premiered in March 2011 at the South by Southwest film festival and received mixed reviews.[54] It was a box office flop, making only approximately $1 million during its first month after its general release in May 2011.[55][56] The same year, Foster also appeared in Roman Polanski's Carnage alongside John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. The film centres around four parents whose initially peaceful meeting to discuss an incident between their sons gradually descends to a conflict. It premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September 2011, and garnered mainly positive reviews.[57] Foster received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.

Foster was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, awarded annually to actors and filmmakers "who have had a definite impact on the world of entertainment", at the 70th Golden Globe Awards in January 2013.[58]

Foster appeared in the science fiction film Elysium, which was released in August 2013.[59] Also during this year, Foster directed an episode of the Netflix original television series Orange Is the New Black,[60] which earned her several awards nominations, including a Primetime Emmy and a Directors Guild of America Award. Two new directorial projects, independent film Money Monster and television series Angie's Body, have also been announced.[61][62]

In 2014, Foster narrated "Women in Space", an episode of season 2 of Makers: Women Who Make America.[63]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

Foster has two sons: Charles "Charlie" Foster (born 1998) and Christopher "Kit" Foster (born 2001).[1][64]

In 2013, Foster acknowledged coming out in a speech at the 70th Golden Globe Awards,[65][66][67][68] and many news outlets afterwards described her as lesbian or gay,[69] although some sources noted that she did not use the words gay or lesbian in her speech.[70] Between 1993 and 2008, she was in a relationship with film producer Cydney Bernard.[71] In April 2014, Foster married actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison.[72][73]

Target of fan obsession[edit]

John Hinckley, Jr. became obsessed with Foster after watching Taxi Driver a number of times,[74][75] and stalked her while she attended Yale, sending her love letters to her campus mail box and even talking to her on the phone. On March 30, 1981, he attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan (shooting and wounding Reagan and three others) and claimed his motive was to impress Foster, then a Yale freshman. The media stormed the Yale campus in April "like a cavalry invasion," and followed Foster relentlessly.[76][77]

Foster's only public reactions to the incident up to that time were a press conference afterwards and an article titled "Why Me?" that she wrote for Esquire in December 1982. In that article she wrote that returning to work on the film Svengali with Peter O'Toole "made me fall in love with acting again"[78] after the assassination attempt had shaken her confidence. The incident caused Foster intense discomfort and reporters have been warned in advance not to bring up the subject in front of her; she has been known to walk out of interviews at the mention of Hinckley's name.[79] In 1991, Foster canceled an interview with NBC's Today Show when she discovered Hinckley would be mentioned in the introduction.[79] In 1999, she discussed the experience with Charlie Rose of 60 Minutes II, explaining that she does not "like to dwell on it too much [...] I never wanted to be the actress who was remembered for that event. Because it didn't have anything to do with me. I was kind of a hapless bystander. But... what a scarring, strange moment in history for me, to be 17 years old, 18 years old, and to be caught up in a drama like that."[7] She also stated that the incident had a major impact on the career choices she later made.[7]

Another man, Edward Richardson, followed Foster around Yale and planned to shoot her, but decided against it because she was "too pretty".[79]

Religious views[edit]

Foster is an atheist.[80][81] She has stated she has "great respect for all religions" and spends "a lot of time studying divine texts, whether it's Eastern religion or Western religion."[82][83] She and her children celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.[84]


Awards and nominations[edit]


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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Succeeded by
Jessica Tandy
Preceded by
Kathy Bates
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Succeeded by
Emma Thompson