From child star to major Hollywood player, JODIE FOSTER has been in the spotlight all her life — and the attention isn't always welcome. In Contact, she looks from this world to universes beyond. Words: Alan Morrison
It‘s been a turbulent life for Jodie Foster. Star of a sun—tan lotion ad at three. playing a child prostitute at fourteen. Yale L'niversity graduate. double Best Actress Oscar winner. two-time director. Raised by her mother after her father walked out before she was born. the object of bizarre fan worship when John l-linckley tried to assassinate President Reagan to impress her. constantly under scrutiny over her sexuality. even in an unauthorised biography by her estranged brother — whom she dismisses as ‘a distant acquaintance. motivated solely by greed and sour grapes‘. Jodie Foster is only 34.
in her latest film. Contact — based on the novel by the late Carl Sagan -- Foster plays Ellie :‘trroway. a scientist who has dedicated her life to the search for intelligent extraterrestrial messages. It‘s impossible to think that lios‘ter wasn‘t drawn to the character for at least a couple of personal reasons: lillic loses her lather at an early age and is labelled as a ’child prodigy" throughout her life.
~’l‘hcrc are so many things about Ellie that I love.‘ the actress admits. ‘She is in some ways a prodigy. which means she stands on this side of our generation and say \. "No. two plus two equals five". You have to wade through the fact that everybody‘s going to laugh at you. that nobody's going to have any respect for you. and that you have to believe consistently and independently that what you‘re going for is more important.‘
The film’s director. Robert Zemeckis. who made the [Jack '18) The Future series and I'vn'rcsr (Jump. is clear on what he believes are Foster‘s unique talents. ‘I can‘t imagine another actress who can bring both the emotion and the intellect to the character.’ he says. ‘Jodie is able to play someone who is a brilliant scientist and also a complete human being.‘
("o/tract has brought some complaints from critics who believe it to be over-earnest and slightly
reactionary. Foster. however. reckons its balance of
religion and science touches on important common ground.
'l'm a great sceptic. We would all be foolish to believe this small speck we inhabit is the only possible life out there.’
Star gazing: Jodie Foster in Contact
‘We are all involved in the same quest, which is to find out about our origins.’ she explains. ‘The question of wanting to know is the same one for both scientists and people of religions. I’m a great sceptic. My feelings are very much in the spirit of (‘arl Sagan — that we would all be foolish to believe this small speck we inhabit is the only possible life out there.
‘I don‘t follow any kind of traditional religion. but I have great respect for all religions. I spend a lot of time studying divine texts. whether it’s Eastern religion or Western religion. I only have questions so far and no answers. I believe that faith, the need to question where we come from. the concept of a God. are as instinctual in humans as having to eat and sleep.’
'l‘hat‘s deeper than most of her Hollywood peers would contemplate. But the feeling persists that Foster would happily give up her elevated status for a ‘normal’ life. ‘I can‘t go to Disneyland without having a specialised experience. with VIP passes and people treating me differently,’ she said in one interview. ‘But I can play someone who goes to Disneyland. Onscrcen. 1 can have a life I’ve never been able to have.’
Contact is on general release from Fri 26 Sep. See review, page 28.
The column that bristles with the Braveheart factor.
KEANU REEVES: airhead or unacclaimed acting genius? Most observers, even his die-hard fans. might lean towards the former, but a new biography by Edinburgh writer Brian J. Robb reveals there's more to Keanu's talents than his admittedly pretty face.
Keanu Reeves: An Excellent Adventure (Plexus £9.99) is an incredibly detailed journey through the actor‘s life and work. Material on his personal life (the alleged 'wedding' to David Geffen, the relationship with Amanda de Cadenet) is presented in a respectable tabloid manner, while the films themselves and the nature of Keanu's appeal is given serious consideration. Photographs are plentiful, and the result is a book that‘s eminently more readable than almost any other biography culled from existing press interviews.
Robb's previous studies have been of River Phoenix, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. With Keanu Reeves added to the list, perhaps we can see some sort of pattern forming?
SHARING STORIES, the annual Scottish-based international co- production conference that allows producers, broadcasters and financers to get together and debate current issues (and forge creative partnerships) returns to Glasgow, Fri 14-Sun 16 Nov. Highlights include a case study on how Mrs Brown, starring Billy Connolly, developed from TV drama to major international movie and the popular live pitching session, 'Wvo In A Room'. Further details are available from 0131 622 7370.
ONE MINUTE WONDERS is a collection of work by sixteen artists and experimental video-makers now showing at Edinburgh's Cameo Cinema. But you'll have to be quick to catch them: the shorts, shown before main features, come to an end after Fri 26 Sep. A linked exhibition, however, continues at the cinema until Sun 12 Oct. The chosen pieces were selected from nationally advertised open submissions, and it‘s encouraging to see a local cinema at the heart of such an initiative.
Keanu Reeves: Scottish biography now out
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