“I find it much more satisfying just to act because I love it and for no other reason. I want to trust my gut.” – Jodie Foster
After being one of the most popular actresses in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Jodie Foster has scaled back her performances in recent years and has been much more prolific as a director. One recent film in which she worked on as only an actor is the horror film Hotel Artemis. In an interview with Slant, Foster speaks about her two minds as an actor and filmmaker and what drew her to the role of a grotesque nurse in Hotel Artemis.
Now that she has worked increasingly more as a filmmaker, Foster thinks about her acting experience when handling casting. She says, “I do think I’m well-suited for things that are grounded. My mind works that way as an actor. When I cast actors, you might cast someone very different for a film with a lot of story that’s compelling it forward than you would for an art film or for a super-broad comedy.”
Reflecting on her own performance in Hotel Artemis, Foster says, “I’m happy with my performance in the film because I feel like it’s a combination of grounded and emotional, and there’s that kind of Barbara Stanwyck, wisecracky feeling to it as well. That’s really what I was looking for: the opportunity to have more of a transformation, to play a character role but still to inhabit the character with emotion.”
One aspect that drew Foster to the character was the challenge of altering her appearance for the role — though she reveals that made producers question wary of casting someone as famous as her in the first place. She explains, “That’s really the reason I wanted to do the movie, and I had to fight for it. I’ve been looking for a transformation character for five years. I think the producers were a little scared. They were like: ‘Wait a minute. You’re not going to look bad, are you?’ [laughs] It’s like: ‘If you’re not the same Jodie Foster everybody’s used to seeing, then do we want that?’ But it was important. That was the character. She’s a 70-year-old woman who hasn’t left that room for 25 years and lives on tacos and hasn’t had any vitamin D.”
Of course, Foster is best known for her dramatic roles, such as her Oscar-winning roles in The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, yet her projects as a director have been much more varied. When asked about how she chooses her projects, she confesses that it comes down to one simple rule:
“I tend to be drawn to dramatic tension thrillers as an actor. I don’t choose that as a director, but I really like it as an actor. Honestly, it’s pretty simple: If it’s good, I trust that, and it’s hard to find genre movies that are well-written, that have compelling characters. Sometimes genre movies happen for really odd commercial reasons. Somebody is like, ‘I can write a script that I can sell,’ or this company is like, ‘I have a window! I know I need a horror film.’ And especially at this point in my life, my entire goal as an actor is to be a part of a team that’s doing something good. Any time I’ve tried to be cynical, about ‘this movie’s going to be good because of dot-dot-dot,’ I’m always wrong. Especially now, I find it much more satisfying just to act because I love it and for no other reason. I want to trust my gut.”