alberto e. rodriguez/getty images
alberto e. rodriguez/getty images
Jodie Foster – Cecil B. deMille award recipient and two-time Golden Globe winner- has been in the business since she began her career as a child model at the age of three. Now the actress, director, and producer plays a 70-something nurse ruling a hospital for criminals in a riot-torn near-future Los Angeles – her first on-screen role since Elysium (2013). Welcome to Hotel Artemis, the movie which brought Foster out of her acting retirement.
What was your reaction when you saw yourself in the mirror with this makeup?
It just feels like a complete transformation. And it's still me. Probably the way I’ll look like in five or ten years. You really feel the pain of what she has lived through and the kind of tragedy she had for life and the rawness of it all.
Did you also recognize your family traits in your wrinkles?
My mom had that haircut and she had super curly hair. She still has it but now it’s gray. So I definitely saw a little bit of my mom in there. I'm especially glad that I'm not competing with other performances of myself from years ago. No, I don't want to be who I was 20 years ago. I want to do different things and mature and evolve as an actor.
What about your role as director? Your absence from the screen looked like a promising time for your career as a filmmaker.
(It) takes a lot of time to get the projects I like off the ground. I consider myself lucky that I've made four movies in my life. I make personal films. I don't do big mainstream Hollywood films where you just hire somebody. My movies take time to get off the ground. But in the last five years I've made, you know, I did one movie and one, two, three, four, five, five TV shows. Yeah, that's a lot.
Could we also say that even if your name is Jodie Foster, a woman has to fight harder than a man to direct a movie?
Yes. But it’s also because I'm interested in different things that aren’t necessarily the flavor of the month. So I turned down a lot of projects. I really just want to make movies that speak for me, that I can defend. I'm not interested in making movies that are like Kleenex that you throw away.
Could we revisit your filmography as a director? You have mentioned that Little Man Tate (1991) now feels like a very young movie.
Yes. And I mean it not only because it was the first or because I was young but because it's a coming of age story. In a way, my coming of age as well as the character. We were all maturing.
Home for the Holidays (1995), really got me. How personal was that movie for you?
It reflects on a time in your life, maybe in your thirties, when you're still very much attached to your family and your parents. But you're also supposed to be starting your own life. And I felt like that was really true to that time of my life. Questions about meaning, you know, did I choose this life? And when did I choose this life? Am I a failure? I love that kind of spiritual crisis of what that character was going through in that movie. Most of my movies are about spiritual crisis, about a transition period, a short period where people ask those big questions and say, I want to live, I want to change, and they have to take that scary step to change.
I know The Beaver (2011) is your favorite movie.
I think is the deepest film and I think is the best movie that I've made. But I know it's not for everybody. Definitely is not for everybody and it's not a perfect film. It’s not just about mental illness. It’s also about that time in your life where you feel like you have two choices, a life sentence or a death sentence. That affirmation of life, to say I choose to live, I want to live, and in order to do that you have to change.
And then came Money Monster (2016).
I know is a much more traditional studio film. But for me, the themes in it felt very resonant about failure, and specifically men and failure. All three of these men in some ways fail and the one person who's trying to keep them alive is a strong woman. I thought that was really compelling.
Your career was full of strong women roles, like The Nurse in Hotel Artemis, even before movements like #metoo or Time’s Up stirred the conversation…
I'm not sure I was aware of that. I think that I am who I am and I bring to the table whatever my experiences are, who I am as a person. The characters that I was interested in, whether they were male or female because I played a lot of roles that flipped, tended to be solitary characters that were not defined by another person, characters who had to reveal themselves in order to become the hero of that story. And you know, that is a great strength.