Jodie Foster Biography:
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 un-starlike 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. For the most part her efforts were successful, and following the lukewarm response to her turn in Anna and the King (1999), Foster continued to raise her son in peace and solitude. It wasn't until Nicole Kidman dropped out of the lead of stylistic director David Fincher's The Panic Room (2002) that Foster once again found herself the center of attention in the media circus. A tense nail-biter that chronicled a brutal night's struggle for survival as a mother and daughter attempted to fend off a trio of determined burglars, The Panic Room received mixed reviews though it held fast to the box-office Top Ten in the weeks following its release. Appearing refreshed and invigorated in the numerous press junkets coinciding with the film's release, it was obvious that the time out of the limelight had certainly kept Foster in good spirits.
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