Jodie Foster: Unbreakable

Image credit: Abbot Genser

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This starts off as another Jodie Foster-in-jeopardy movie. Do you ever worry about audiences tiring of seeing you fend off predators?
JODIE FOSTER: You mean, enough already? I think it's just the opposite. Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock do romantic comedies. I do dark dramas. I do these movies well.

Do you ever feel like you're replaying the same character? On the Silence of the Lambs commentary, Jonathan Demme talks about the urgency of you nailing Clarice's accent, because in all of your characters before you were just playing Jodie Foster.
I do find myself either being attracted to these solitary characters, or I just start killing people off in the script. ''Why do we have to have a mom? The mom serves no purpose!'' I find myself making the character more and more singular, more and more bereft and abandoned, and I know that's a whole thing in my life that keeps coming up in my movies. [Pause] He said that I was just Jodie Foster over and over again?

He did.
He did, well, hmm. You know, one of my favorite things that directors do is where they go, ''In every movie she's ever done, she's okay, she's not so great, but in my movie, she's fantastic!'' [Laughs] I love that when they do that. This other quote Jonathan would say, and I give him a lot of s--- about this, is ''Yeah, you know every other movie she's ever played in, she's had to dumb down and she's had to act like she's dumber than she is. But in my movie she got to explore her intelligence.''

You won your second Oscar, for Silence, when you had just recently turned 30. How badly do you want another one?
Ha! Sure, that'd be great. But I didn't get them by looking for scripts that have ''the weight of importance.'' An interesting lesson from Silence of the Lambs: I had just won for The Accused and — not my agent so much — but everybody else was like, ''Why are you going to do that movie? It's a total second fiddle. Anthony Hopkins got the good part and you are just quiet and don't speak in contractions. You could do a juicy part!'' I was like, ''That's who she is, and that's how I'm going to play her. I'm not going to try and compete with him.'' And I won an Oscar for that. So much for them second-guessing whose part was better.

I watched Inside Man again recently —
Did you like that movie?

Fun popcorn flick. Did you?
I think that script was really, really good. It's not as exciting as I was hoping, but my character's great, even though if you cut her out of the movie it would not matter one iota.

She's a terrific bitch, unlike anyone you've ever played.
I wanted the fake tan in that one. I wanted the Manolo Blahniks. You know the Louis Vuitton ad with Uma Thurman where she looks like the perfect Aryan total goddess with slick blond hair and all the jewelry and the lipstick? I took that in and said, ''I want to look like that, only I'm not her so I'm not going to be as pretty.''

Was that part of the movie's allure, the chance to swan around in heels for a change?
No, that's the character. You know, I'm really not a clothes person. To me that's just work. It's the thing I hate to do the most. I don't want to be judged in that way. ''Well, that's a 5, that's a 2, that's a 10.''

You've picked a tough town to call home then.
I can feel a little grossed out by L.A. but, hey, it's nice to feel superior! [Laughs] Clearly you have to wear a lot of rubber to get through this town. My kids are so innocent. They're not L.A. kids and none of their little friends are. And I make movies with real technicians who wake up at four in the morning and wear Patagonia everything. I don't make them with the wives of executives who have fake lips. I was never the ingenue or the pretty girlfriend of Tom Cruise in a movie. I didn't have that career, so I don't have to compete on that level.

Did you ever want more of a shot at playing the cute get?
No, but there were other things I wanted. Like, I got insecure because I made this conscious choice when I was 18 and 19 not to do any of those coming-of-age devirginization movies, to be a part of any kind of Brat Pack. They were the hot items here in L.A. and I was living in Connecticut and going to college. I knew some of those guys, so I did feel a bit like a loser. ''What are you guys doing tonight? I'm studying for this French test.'' And then the whole romantic-comedy thing. There was a time when that really was it in Hollywood. But I never was interested.

Not even a little?
Sometimes I would do an audition for a Meg Ryan-type role and maybe I just wasn't good. And they were probably right, because I'm sure I would suck at them. But I did replace Meg Ryan in Maverick, and that was just so cool. She bowed out, like, two weeks before shooting. So I had my opportunity to try a romantic comedy and it was successful, but I don't need to make a career of it.

NEXT PAGE: ''I knew the minute I met [Mel Gibson] that he was going to be my friend for the rest of my life. I don't often feel that way, and I certainly never feel that way about actors.''