In the promotion of her new directorial effort The Beaver, only the third time she’s stepped into such a role, Jodie Foster spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the film, her struggles transitioning into directing, and, naturally, her incredibly controversial leading man.
And you would think she was talking about Nelson Mandela.
“He’s so incredibly loving and sensitive, he really is,” she says. “He is the most loved actor I have ever worked with on a movie. And he’s not saintly, and he’s got a big mouth, and he’ll do gross things your nephew would do. But I knew the minute I met him that I would love him the rest of my life.”
She adds: “I know him in a very complex way. He’s a real person; he’s not a cardboard cutout. I know that he has troubles, and when you love somebody you don’t just walk away from them when they are struggling.” …
She pauses, and this exceptionally intelligent, highly controlled woman has tears in her eyes.
“God, I love that man,” Foster says. “The performance he gave in this movie, I will always be grateful for. He brought a lifetime of pain to the character that we’ve been talking about for years, that I knew was part of his psyche and who he is. It’s part of him that is beautiful and that I want people to know, too. I can’t ever regret that.”
Jodie Foster’s next film is God of Carnage with Roman Polanski, so she is apparently quite adept at separating the man from the artist as few seem to be (unless you’re actually a part of Hollywood culture, then it’s simple I suppose). But the way she speaks about Gibson, with such love, such emotion, such passion.
It’s almost like she’s trying to sell a film or something.
I don’t mean to be cynical. Friendship is a beautiful thing and I don’t expect people to abandon those they love in times of crisis. But she is talking about a violent, abusive hate-monger. And, yes, people have layers and perhaps those are but facets of an incredibly complex individual, but even the most forgiving Gibsonite would have to admit those are pretty big facets.
She loves Gibson. Facts are facts. But additional facts include: Foster has been trying to get this film off the ground for 3 years. There’s been casting changes and an immense amount of public scrutiny. Her previous directorial effort, love it as I do, pretty much tanked. That was 16 years ago. In this same THR article, Foster speaks of projects that have never happened, real passion projects she’s wanted to do for years. The allure of acting has worn off and she wants to direct, but for a number of reasons has been unable to giver herself over to that world. So she has a lot riding on this, and reviews are, so far, fair to okay. Be it real friendship, or other motives, I’m not sure she felt she had a choice but to defend Mel Gibson.
So, the question is: if your career rested upon one of Hollywood’s most presently hated figures, would you?