Jodie Foster tends to be the actress people turn to with questions about child actors. After all, Foster began acting at the age of 3 and was nominated for an Oscar for her role as a child prostitute in Taxi Driver, a role she performed when she was twelve.
This year another young actress is nominated for an Oscar, Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (who was only six when she shot the film), and Foster was asked about Wallis on the red carpet of the Golden Globes.
She said, “I was really excited that Quvenzhané Wallis was nominated [for an Oscar]. That really made me happy. Because I was worried that she’d be overlooked.”
As for why she has praise for Wallis, Foster added, “I think people don’t really understand child acting. They think that they just throw them out there, and they’re cute and that’s what they do. But that’s a really layered, beautiful performance that comes from a completely instinctual place. It’s just God-given, you know?”
But Foster doesn’t think that any child has the capacity for acting — parents have to be able to recognize the ability from an early age. She explained, “I think kids are like that or they’re not. You have to know your child. For some children, they can adapt to this world, and it’s appropriate for them, and for some, it isn’t. It’s kind of like being an astronaut: some people have problems with gravity, and some people don’t.”