While other kids her age were being toilet-trained, Jodie Foster was negotiating contract riders with her agency. Well, all right, maybe she wasn't that savvy at three years old, but there's no doubt that she was a rare candidate for the far too often used phrase, "wise beyond her years."
And she didn't get any less smart with age: even while cultivating the full-time acting career that would garner her two Academy Awards, Foster managed to find the time to graduate as class valedictorian from her French language high school, and later with an Honors degree in English Literature from Yale University. Once school was over and Foster found she only had acting to deal with, she occupied her spare time by directing movies such as Nell and Little Man Tate, or producing them under her company, Egg Productions, or using her own voice for the French versions of her films as she is fluent in the language.
And if a celebrity childhood, the mind of a genius and a hectic schedule weren't enough to make a person crazy, Foster had plenty of other stuff to deal with, like John Hinckley, the stalker who in 1981 attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to get her attention. Or her brother Buddy's 1998 tell-all biography of her, chock-full of supposed fabrications that compromised her otherwise guarded lifestyle.
Yet, in spite of all this, Foster has managed to keep herself in check without a breakdown of any kind and without developing a Hollywood ego. She continues to approach acting as an art form, choosing roles on the basis of their intrinsic rather than their monetary value. Think about it: this is the girl who rejected the lead in Hannibal, the sequel to the movie that led to her second Oscar, because she felt that the script compromised the original character (publicly she claimed other reasons, but we know what's up). Who else in the business would have the integrity to do that?
While Fosters' obvious talent has made her one of the more sought after actresses in Hollywood, we suspect that her personality hasn't made her one of the more sought after dinner party guests in Hollywood. Not that we have any problems with what we've gathered about her character -- in fact, we like it a lot. We just have a feeling that her all-business approach to her craft, in conjunction with her tendency to talk smack about actors who seem to take on any role, hasn't won her many friends among the schmoozers who sit courtside at Lakers games.
While celebrities might not be too fond of Jodie, we normal people like her just fine. She's kind to the fans that approach her, and is straightforward and endearing in interviews -- provided that the interviewer stays away from a few select topics, like the identity of the father(s) of her two children or the New York Daily News rumor that they were the product of a sperm donor.
Good looks? Yale education? Acting talent, with two Oscars to prove it? One of the highest paid women in Hollywood? Incredibly wealthy? Extremely powerful? You get the picture; the consensus is that Jodie's a pretty sexy lady.
Discounting a brief lull in her career between the ages of three and eight during which she was restricted to commercial appearances (she made her debut as the "Coppertone Girl," whose underwear was being pulled off by a dog), Foster has found consistent film and television work throughout pretty much her whole life. And we're not just talking about whipping off a romantic comedy every other year, à la Meg Ryan; Foster's roles in Taxi Driver, Contact, The Silence of the Lambs, Anna and the King, and The Accused have contributed to her status as one of the most awarded and respected actors in Hollywood.
Alongside four Oscar nominations and a host of Critic's Associations nods, Foster was the first woman to win two Academy Awards before the age of 30. And in addition to her acting accolades, Foster has proven herself a capable director, calling the shots in 1991's Little Man Tate and 1994's Nell.
Given her reservations about divulging information regarding her personal life, we feel fairly confident about saying that Jodie Foster's fame can be attributed to her professional performances alone. She's not the kind of girl to pop up in a gossip column via a celebrity marriage or enrollment in a rehab program, leaving her movie roles as the only thing for the public to talk about. As her character renditions have been high in quality, the talk has been high in quantity.
While we would be shocked to learn that a surgeon had anything to do with Jodie's current looks, we really find it outstanding that -- well into middle age -- she still looks incredibly good. With her lithe figure, absorbing blue eyes, milky skin, and sharply defined features, Jodie is a very alluring woman, and knowing that such a huge brain is crammed into her petite head doesn't hurt either.
Having read this much of the feature, Foster probably hasn't struck you as the kind of person who spends hours fretting over what to wear. And although she'll occasionally show up to pick up an award looking like someone who doesn't really care about how she looks, for the most part, she does a pretty good job of putting herself together.
When she does doll herself up, she tends toward light, tight-fitting arrangements, like what she wore at the 2002 Academy Awards, and, as for the occasional blunder, we don't think she really cares about what the likes of Mr. Blackwell thinks of her. Well, we like what we see.
Née Alicia Christian Foster, Jodie was born November 19, 1962, in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Lucius, left the family before her birth, leaving Alicia and her three siblings to be raised by their Hollywood publicist mother, Evelyn Foster. Given her occupation, Evelyn had little problem finding acting work for those of her children that expressed interest in taking it on, and Alicia made her first on-screen appearance at the age of three, in a Coppertone sunscreen commercial.
Further commercial work followed, as did small roles on television series such as Mayberry R.F.D. and The Partridge Family, and Foster made her debut film appearance in 1972, in Disney's Napoleon and Samantha. Even as she was becoming immersed in the medium that the public would come to know her through, Foster acquired the name she would be known by, as her family took to addressing her by a shortened version of the name of a family friend. Josephine D., a longtime acquaintance of Evelyn Foster's had come to be known as Jo D., and Alicia Foster subsequently became Jodie Foster.
Foster's interest in acting did not wane as she entered her teenage years, and she continued her film work, albeit for the most part restricted to quirky roles in children's movies. Foster enjoyed an advantage over other child actors in that her performances were not restricted to a single language: a student at Los Angeles' Lycée Francais, Jodie's French was sufficiently fluent by age 14 for her to win a role in 1977's Moi, Fleur Bleue, as well as a number of other French films.
Yet Foster's childhood success should not be solely attributed to her linguistic abilities. Even before her appearance in Moi, Fleur Bleue, Foster had demonstrated an acting talent impressive enough to earn a casting call to 1976's Taxi Driver. The film proved to be a contemporary classic, and Foster's role in it, as a teenage prostitute, won her critical acclaim as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. By age 14, Foster had made the big break that most seasoned actors envy.
Throughout the remainder of her high school years, Foster persisted in expanding her professional experience with film and television appearances, although none would quite rival the impact that Taxi Driver had on the public (although she was considered for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars).
While tending to her burgeoning career, Foster continued to attend courses at the Lycée Francais, and in 1980 accomplished the feat of not merely graduating on schedule, but as class valedictorian. Her academic accolades were acknowledged, and Foster was accepted at Yale University, where she began attending lectures in English Literature that fall.
In a 1982 article she wrote for Esquire magazine, Foster recalled her primary challenge in attending Yale was simply blending into the student body, in spite of the fame her profession had brought her. This endeavor was severely compromised in the spring of 1981, when a certain John Hinckley launched her into the public eye. Obsessed with Foster's character in Taxi Driver, Hinckley had written her a number of letters before embarking on an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan as a means of catching her attention.
The attempt was a failure, and led to the discovery of photographs of Foster and her college address in his motel room, and days of grilling by the press and federal agencies. Matters were further complicated with the capture of a second stalker, Edward Richardson, and the experience was more than enough to prompt Foster to retreat from the public spotlight. She became, and remains to this day, one of Hollywood's most private celebrities.
Foster's decision to shield her personal life did not impinge on her professional career, and she continued to do film and television appearances until her 1985 graduation, with honors, from Yale. By this point Foster was a seasoned veteran in the entertainment industry and had little trouble finding consistent work, although a follow-up to Taxi Driver continued to elude her.
Her patience was rewarded in 1988, when she was cast as rape victim Sarah Tobias in The Accused. The movie was well received, and Foster's performance in it earned her a Golden Globe, a National Board of Review Award as well as an Oscar for Best Actress. Her reputation consolidated, Foster went on to her next Oscar-winning performance, as FBI rookie agent Clarice Starling in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. This particular Best Actress Academy Award marked her third nomination and her second trophy before the age of 30, a first among Hollywood women.
Having established herself as a high-caliber actor, Foster expanded her professional experience in 1991, founded a production company -- Egg Productions -- and made her directorial debut with Little Man Tate, which she also starred in. She again assumed the role of a prostitute in 1992 in Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog, and directed her second film, Nell, in 1994, the same year she starred in the comedy Maverick alongside Mel Gibson.
By the late '90s, with a wealth of experience and acclaim behind her, Foster was in a position to pick and choose roles. In doing so, she exhibited a sense of integrity rare in celebrity circles, reserving her performances to those instances where it was the character, rather than the monetary compensation, that stimulated her. After a role in 1997's Contact, Foster rejected an offer to reprise her role as Clarice Starling in the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs -- Hannibal -- initially citing issues with the character's development but then claiming scheduling conflicts as her reason for doing so.
Although the former was her official reason, many took the latter as the true one, praising it as testament to her unique approach to her craft. Foster's next appearance was in 1999, in Anna and the King. Already acknowledged as one of the most powerful women in the industry, this role made her one of the most highly paid, earning her $15 million.
After a brief reprieve from film work, Jodie made her return to the big screen in 2002, subbing in for an injured Nicole Kidman in David Fincher's box-office hit, Panic Room. A number of other projects are currently in the works: Foster will be providing her voice for DreamWorks' animated feature Tusker, to be released in 2003, and is currently directing Claire Danes in the movie, Flora Plum. She also recently acquired the film rights to the Margaret Atwood novel Alias Grace, and has long fostered plans to direct, produce and star in a biography of controversial filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
Since her Yale days, Jodie has continued to foster a private personal life. She has given birth to two sons since 1998 and raised them both as a single mother, keeping the identity of the father(s) secret. To this day she refuses to comment on the John Hinckley incident, and, for the most part, restricts her interviews to questions regarding her professional accomplishments, of which there is an abundance to discuss.