Jodie Foster: “Fame is like tak­ing steroids”


Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - In­ter­view by JAMES MOTTRAM

Last month in Lon­don, you pre­sented a screen­ing of 1991’s The Si­lence Of The Lambs at the Bri­tish Film Institute. Does it feel like peo­ple are never go­ing to stop ask­ing you about that movie? Yeah, and that feels great. It’s a good movie; I wish I was more re­spon­si­ble for [it]! It in­spired all of us to do the best work of our lives, and I’m sure all of us are sit­ting back go­ing, “We’ll never be that good [again].” It’s in­ter­est­ing how time­less it is. You’d think, “Oh, se­rial killers, the early ’90s… it’s go­ing to be dated.” But aside from the shoul­der pads, it’s re­ally held the test of time. You won your sec­ond Os­car for that film – but you act less and less these days. Are you sad the so-called “cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence” seems to be dis­ap­pear­ing? Well, yeah, I’m sad that some­thing mean­ing­ful in my life is no longer hap­pen­ing. Stu­dios were frack­ing. They just wanted to get the last bit of shale out of the film busi­ness for their stock­hold­ers, and they made a de­ci­sion to have ev­ery­thing be a $200 mil­lion su­per­hero film. And when they made that de­ci­sion, they changed the view­ing habits of film­go­ers who will never be back. And that’s sad. You act less, but di­rect more. Does di­rect­ing com­pen­sate for that loss? I hope so. It’s an in­ter­est­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal mo­ment. Peo­ple say with­out ap­plause, you’re noth­ing. With­out be­ing on the cover of a mag­a­zine, you’re noth­ing. With­out be­ing ex­ploited, you are noth­ing. Hav­ing never known any­thing else in my life, it was a big step to say, “Maybe I could be some­thing else.” Was it dif­fi­cult to make the tran­si­tion? I don’t know if it was dif­fi­cult, but I feel the dif­fer­ence. Be­ing an A-list movie star is a bit like tak­ing steroids, right? Some­body in­jects you and you look like a Miche­lin Man for 35 years and ev­ery time some­body walks in the room, ev­ery­thing you say makes them laugh. Ev­ery­thing you say is im­por­tant. Then one day you stop tak­ing the in­jec­tions and you’re not pow­er­ful any­more. No­body laughs at your jokes. It takes a minute to be able to un­der­stand that that other per­son in the mir­ror was not who you are. But when you be­came a direc­tor [with a 1988 episode of the an­thol­ogy TV se­ries Tales From The Dark­side], would peo­ple lis­ten to you be­cause you were a direc­tor – or be­cause you were al­ready a star? I don’t know. I was 25 or 26, I wasn’t con­scious of any­thing. I was cre­at­ing with love; I didn’t un­der­stand how peo­ple per­ceived me. I do find now that ac­tors have an eas­ier time [with] me; I ob­vi­ously have ex­pe­ri­ence with what they’re go­ing through. Now you have di­rected an episode of an­other an­thol­ogy TV se­ries, Black Mir­ror, which in­volves a mother, a daugh­ter and parental con­trol

“Be­ing an A-list movie star is a bit like tak­ing steroids. Ev­ery time some­body walks in the room, ev­ery­thing you say is im­por­tant”

through tech­nol­ogy. Would you ever use tech­nol­ogy to con­trol your own chil­dren? No – though there are cer­tainly a lot of temp­ta­tions there. I could have the pass­words on my kids’ com­put­ers, and I don’t. My son [Charles] is 19; the things I had to ac­cept, the lack of con­trol I had to ac­cept, al­lowed me to have a re­la­tion­ship with him where he can call me in the mid­dle of the night and say, “I’m wor­ried about my girl­friend” or “Some­times I cry and I don’t know why.” I have that re­la­tion­ship with him now be­cause I didn’t sub­sume him when he was 12. You have spo­ken about your own pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with your mother, and how when you made 1994’s Nell you were away from her for four months, came back and your bond was even stronger. Yeah – I will never have a more sig­nif­i­cant re­la­tion­ship than with my mother. No-one will ever know me the way she did. It’s very com­pli­cated. There was a lot of strug­gle in­volved about un­der­stand­ing where I started and she left off – and I think it was harder for her than for me. You have been work­ing since you first ap­peared in a TV ad aged three. But the Weinstein scan­dal has rocked Hol­ly­wood like noth­ing else in decades – per­haps ever. Do you have any­thing to say about it? I never worked with Har­vey Weinstein. I don’t feel like any­one needs an­other sound­bite from me about the scan­dal. I can cer­tainly speak to women’s is­sues; there isn’t a woman I’ve ever met that hasn’t had some sexual ha­rass­ment or in­ap­pro­pri­ate sexual con­text in their work­place or other places. We don’t talk about it, be­cause of all sorts of is­sues: shame, not want­ing to be sex­u­alised. But it’s good to hear these sto­ries. I don’t want to talk about gross guys in bathrobes; what has been of in­ter­est to me is nar­ra­tives of amaz­ing, well-spo­ken, hon­est women. It’s given peo­ple, if they’re in­ter­ested, a real rich­ness of what the fe­male ex­pe­ri­ence is.

Black Mir­ror sea­son 4 pre­mieres Fri­day, De­cem­ber 29, on Net­flix.

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