Anthony Kirby reports from the Tribeca Film Festival where Jodie Foster talked to filmmaker Julie Taymor about how she has forged a position as an esteemed filmmaker in both film and television.
Looking relaxed and at ease, director/ actor Jodie Foster and former theatre director Julie Taymor spoke to a capacity audience at the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival.
“I first appeared in front of a camera at the age of three,” said Foster in reply to a question from a member of the audience. “So it’s over fifty years at this point. A big change came when Martin Scorsese hired me to work on Taxi Driver. I was just twelve at the time – actually my older sister doubled for me in several of the sex scenes. Part way into the film Robert De Niro took me aside and said, ‘Jodie, you’re a gifted actress. You can have a great fulfilling career. However, you’re not giving enough. Just embrace this part and become it.’ I took Bob’s advice to heart. Taxi Driver was a high point of my early career.
“I always wanted to be a director. Working as an actor I learned what actors need in a director. I finally got to direct at age 27. The film Little Man Tate (1991) comprised some aspects of my own childhood. Of the three films I had previously directed, two, Tate and Home for the Holidays, deal with family dynamics; and the other, The Beaver, deals with depression, disenchantment and ultimately courage.” Talking about her latest film, Money Monster, Foster tells the audience that it “is about people without conscience. The character played by Jack O Connell shows the human aspects of the recent financial crisis.”
“I still have so much I want to express both as a director and actor. While my screenwriting is good, it’s not great. I’d rather leave that aspect to others.”
Referring to perhaps her most famous role, Foster said, “My favorite female director is Jonathan Demme. He was the one guy who really understood Silence of the Lambs and said, ‘this is a movie about a woman (Clarice) who’s our hero, and the film is informed by that.”
To the question of woman directors in Hollywood, Foster said, “I don’t think it’s a plot to keep women down; it’s neglect. It’s a bunch of people who weren’t thinking about it, including a lot of female executives who’d risen to the top and not really made a dent in bringing many women into the mainstream world. We don’t want to ignore it, it’s real. The more financial risk, the less risky the studios can be – people see women as a risk.”
Foster’s last role as an actor was in Elysium (2012).” I like fairly long breaks between projects as a way of absorbing more inspiration versus exhausting myself by moving from one project to another”.
Asked if she might consider starring in a sequel to Taxi Driver, Foster replied, “New York has changed a lot in those forty years since we lensed it… Uber Driver: The Sequel – I’m going to have to ask Columbia if that’s a good idea,” she laughed.
The 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival was held in New York City from 13 – 24 April 2016.
Money Monster, starring Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Jack O’Connell, will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.