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TALENT TALK: Jodie Foster

28 Sep, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

A former child actor herself, Jodie Foster enjoys working with young players and nurturing new talent.

In fact, though she admits producing is “just a bad job,” she endured the headaches for The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys to help out a young director/producer who brought her the project based on a “great book.”

“I love coming-of-age movies,” she told Video Store Magazine in a recent interview. “It's an important step for a first-time director because it's about his beginnings and how he feels about them.”

What makes Altar Boys different from many films in the genre is that “it's real,” she said, showing “that life isn't always pretty.”

“Part of what growing up is all about is learning that life is unfair,” she said.

Such young veterans as Kieran Culkin (The Cider House Rules) and Jena Malone (Life as a House, Contact) were cast in leading roles, as was newcomer Emile Hirsch in the role of dreamer Francis Doyle. But Foster realized the film would need a name actor of get it off the ground, so she cast herself in the supporting part of the killjoy Catholic school nun Sister Assumpta.

“I love playing supporting roles,” she said. “You don't have to carry the onus of the whole movie on your shoulders.”

While the nun was something of a battle-axe in the original book, Fosters performance is more subtle. “I thought it was important to really play up her perspective,” she said.

Foster also starred opposite a young actor (Kristen Stewart) in another recent film, Panic Room.

“I love working with younger actors because I was a child actor,” she said.

Asked why so many of them see her as a role model, Foster posited that it was because, by transitioning to adult roles, directing and producing, she shows them “there is a life after child acting.”

“There a fear of a young actor that you're going to turn 16 and nobody will want you anymore,” she said.

She thinks many of today's young actors have the potential to move on to adult roles and that, in particular, ”Jena [Malone] will transition beautifully.”

Despite all her adult accomplishments—including best actress Oscars for The Accused and Silence of the Lambs and a nomination for Nell (which she considers her best performance) -- Foster still believes Taxi Driver (1976), in which she played a child prostitute, is her best overall film.

“I think Taxi Driver is the best movie I've ever made,” she said.

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