The youngest of four children born to Evelyn "Brandy" Foster, Jodie Foster entered the world on November 19, 1962 under the name Alicia, but earned her "proper" name when her siblings insisted upon Jodie. A stage-mother supreme, Brandy Foster dragged her kids from one audition to another, securing work for son Buddy in the role of Ken Berry's son on the popular sitcom Mayberry RFD. It was on Mayberry that Foster, already a professional thanks to her stint as the Coppertone girl (the little kid whose swimsuit was being pulled down by a dog on the ads for the suntan lotion), made her TV debut in a succession of minor roles. Buddy would become disenchanted with acting, but Jodie stayed at it, taking a mature, businesslike approach to the disciplines of line memorization and following directions that belied her years. Janet Waldo, a voice actress who worked on the 1970s cartoon series The Addams Family, would recall in later years that Foster, cast due to her raspy voice in the male role of Puggsley Addams, took her job more seriously and with more dedication than many adult actors.
After her film debut in Disney's Napoleon and Samantha (1972), Foster was much in demand, though she was usually cast in "oddball" child roles by virtue of her unstarlike facial features. She was cast in the Tatum O'Neal part in the 1974 TV series based on the film Paper Moon -- perhaps the last time she would ever be required to pattern her performance after someone else's. In 1975, Foster was cast in her most controversial role to date, as preteen prostitute Iris in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Both the director and the on-set supervisors made certain that she would not be psychologically damaged by the sleaziness of her character's surroundings and lifestyle; alas, the film apparently did irreparable damage to the psyche of at least one of its viewers. In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan, and when captured, insisted he'd done it to impress Foster -- a re-creation of a similar incident in Taxi Driver. The resultant negative publicity made Foster (who'd been previously stalked by Hinckley) extremely sensitive to the excesses of the media; through absolutely no fault of her own, she'd become the quarry of every tabloid and "investigative journalist" in the world. Thereafter, she would stop an interview cold whenever the subject of Hinckley was mentioned, and even ceased answering fan mail or giving out autographs. This (justifiable) shunning of "the public" had little if any effect on Foster's professional life; after graduating magna cum laude from Yale University (later she would also receive an honorary Doctorate), the actress appeared in a handful of "small" films of little commercial value just to recharge her acting batteries, and then came back stronger than ever with her Oscar-winning performance in The Accused (1988), in which she played a rape victim seeking justice. Foster followed up this triumph with another Oscar for her work as FBI investigator Clarice Starling (a role turned down by several prominent actresses) in the 1991 chiller The Silence of the Lambs.
Not completely satisfied professionally, Foster went into directing with a worthwhile drama about (perhaps significantly) the tribulations of a child genius, Little Man Tate (1991) -- a logical extension, according to some movie insiders, of Foster's tendency to wield a great deal of authority on the set. Foster has in recent years managed to balance the artistic integrity of her award-winning work with the more commercial considerations of such films as Maverick (1994). She made her debut as producer in 1994 with the acclaimed Nell, in which she also gave a stunning Oscar-nominated performance as a backwoods wild child brought into the modern world. Foster then returned to directing (as well as producing) with 1995's Home for the Holidays, a comedy starring Holly Hunter. The production was not a box office success, though it did draw positive reviews. Foster then returned to acting with her role as Ellie Arroway in Robert Zemeckis' 1997 film Contact. After the film, she turned her attentions to raising her son, Charles, born in 1998. Still smarting from the public scrutiny thrust upon her by the Hinckley incident, Foster kept out of the glare of publicity as much as possible, going so far as refusing to identify the father of her child, a decision which became the subject of much scrutiny in the media.
Jodie Foster has, literally, given her life to showbusiness. She began modeling at age three, as the charming but embarrassingly exposed little girl on the Coppertone Tanning Lotion billboards. Roles in some forty commercials and such television shows as The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969), Mayberry RFD (1969), The Partridge Family (1970), and My Three Sons (1972) led to her first movie, Napoleon and Samantha (1972).
Before her big break -- an Oscar nominated performance at age 14 in Taxi Driver (which also won for the young actor a New York Film Critics Circle award, a Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association award and two British Academy awards) -- Foster had more than 18 television shows and eleven movies to her credit. Fellow cast members remember her precocious intelligence and dedication, and a marked businesslike attitude. It was her role in Taxi Driver, though, that rendered the actor years of unwanted off-camera publicity. A crime, -- nothing less than a presidential near-assassination -- was committed with Foster’s film character as the muse. The experience led the then Yale freshman to shun future media attention, and to write an essay for Esquire magazine entitled, Why Me?
Foster’s high-calibre education continued (from the exclusive Lycee Francais in Los Angeles to graduation with an Honours B.A. in Literature from Yale) as did her (lower calibre) movie career. Her co-starring role in Bugsy Malone garnered two British Academy Awards, but fourteen films, deemed unworthy of the Foster’s bright talent, followed, among them Candleshoe (1977), Carny (1980), Svengali (1983), The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) and Siesta (1987). The parts did get better, beginning in 1987 with Five Corners, for which Foster earned an Independent Spirit Award. The actor, though, came into her own with The Accused (1988) for which she received an Oscar, a Golden Globe nomination, and a New York Film Critics Circle nomination. She carried on working steadily until the enormous success of The Silence of the Lambs (1991 - Oscar, British Academy Award, New York Film Critics Circle award, Chicago Film Critics’ award, and Golden Globe).
That same year Foster directed and starred in Little Man Tate for a Los Angeles Film Teachers’ Association award. Shadows and Fog (1992), Sommersby (1993), Maverick (1994), Contact (1997) and Anna and the King (1999) were played out before the camera, and Nell (1994 - Screen Actors Guild award, Oscar nomination and Golden Globe nomination), was produced by the actor. Foster’s Egg Pictures has since produced Home for the Holidays (1995). Egg Pictures has six films in various development stages, including the movies Flora Plum, The Leni Riefenstahl Project and Mace and Mardi. If that weren’t enough, Foster’s home-life is busy as well — she is a single mother to son Charles, born in 1998. An unconventional upbringing has resulted in an unconventional star. Foster is not only “thoroughly likeable [and] emotionally stable” but one of Hollywood’s most respected players. Her faculty for balancing artistic integrity with commercial success will ensure a lifetime of delivering to her public the best that Hollywood can offer.
Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The (2001)
Anna and the King (1999)
Taxi Driver (1997)
Shadows and Fog (1992)
Little Man Tate (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Rabbit Ears - The Fisherman and His Wife (1989)
The Accused (1988)
Stealing Home (1988)
Five Corners (1987)
The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)
O'Hara'S Wife (1982)
Freaky Friday (1977)
Bugsy Malone (1976)
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver - Special LV Edition (1976)
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
Smile Jenny, You're Dead (1974)
One Little Indian (1973)
Tom Sawyer (1973)
Napoleon and Samantha (1972)
The Blood of Others
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