5 The List l0-23 Mar 1995

F03 to ring an a ttitude

JODIE FOSTER stunned film audiences as a child prostitute in the controversial Taxi Driver and has been commanding attention since. Nearly twenty years later, Hollywood’s hard woman is melting hearts with her latest film Nell. Leo Burley meets her and looks at her impressive career.

ailing slowly downhill on a houseboat is a young family. The clothes. accents and ambience tell you this is 60s America. the sunshine and blonde hair suggest California. The sunshine is strong. and mom and pop wisely douse their offspring in copious amounts of Coppertone sun cream.

The camera pans in on the youngest child. almost a baby. who flashes a smile and chases off after the family dog. The advert was screened throughout the US in 1965. Jodie Foster. its star. was three years old.

Last month. Foster was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Nell. a young woman discovered in the backwoods of America. who speaks an unknown language. If Foster wins. it will be her third Academy Award for best actress. Only Katharine Hepburn has won more she was over 7() when she received her fourth for 011 Golden Pond. Jodie Foster is 32.

‘I don’t think lam a walking wound from my childhood in the film industry.’

While the Academy is not always the best

judge of actors or films. the Oscars are a good

guide to how l-lollywood as an industry rates its stars. Few command more respect than Foster. She deservedly walked off with the coveted ‘book ends‘ for her excellent performances as Sarah Tobias. the rape victim standing tip for her rights in T/It' r’lt‘t‘lls‘t’d ( 1988) and as Clarice Starling. the rookie FBI agent in Silence ()fT/ze [.(l/ll/M‘ (1990). The awards were a recognition of more than her acting skills they acknowledged Foster‘s career was inextricably linked with the breakdown of the American dream. 'l‘hrottgh her refusal to become a victim of that tragedy. she has come to represent two of Hollywood's rarest commodities integrity and hope.

This is certainly how John llinckley Jnr viewed the 18—year-old lioster. before his attempted assassination of President Reagan in l‘)8l. in a letter. discovered in his hotel room after the shooting. he wrote: ‘Jody. I’m asking you please to look into your heart and at least give me the chance with this historic deed to win your respect and love . . . '

Foster responded with one of her most composed performances when the world media descended on her Yale campus: ‘I have never met. spoken to or in any way associated with one John W. Hinckley. Last Fall I received several pieces of unsolicited correspondence signed John W. llinckley or J. W. H. and I threw them all away. This is not uncommon as I receive a great deal of unsolicited correspondence.‘

The implication that Hinckley was merely one of Foster‘s many obsessive fans was truer than