ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You've never been busier. Things don't seem to be drying up.
JODIE FOSTER: They were before Flightplan. I mean, I hadn't worked in three years. Did you ever think I was quitting?
I preferred to think you were being discerning.
I was being discerning, but I was fully aware that that could mean that I was done. My mom would always say, ''When you're 40, your career's going to be over, so you need to figure out what you're going to do next.'' She's been telling me that since I was 18.
So it's not Hollywood that shelves female actors of a certain age, it's their mothers.
Exactly! [Laughs] So I was like, ''Okay, well, I'm 40, but I'm going to keep squeezing this out. I want to do some really good stuff because this may be it for me.'' [My publicist], Pat Kingsley, made me do Flightplan. Not only was I not on the fence, I was like, ''Oh, no, forget this script.'' And she was like, ''Look, maybe the whole package is not everything that you ever wanted, but if you keep doing that, where everything has to be perfect or you're not going to do it at all, then you're never going to work again.'' And she was right.
On the flip side, what's some of the crummiest advice you've gotten over the years?
A nameless person in my group was really against me directing Little Man Tate. She basically said, ''You might win an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs, it's a big movie, this is your opportunity to make a lot of money, and you're completely blowing it to get paid scale plus 10 to go do this directing thing. Are you crazy? Pull out of it now.''
Sounds like something your mother might say.
[Laughs] Yeah, you can hear the voice saying, ''You'll never work again! You'll never make that much money again! Your life is over when you're 40!''
Are you still going to direct Sugarland, about migrant workers in Florida?
It just fell apart again. And that was a great part for Robert De Niro. That's the story in Hollywood. You make personal movies and they're really hard to get off the ground. S--- happens. Usually it's actors who screw you. That's what happened on Flora Plum [a Depression-era story about circus performers Foster first tried to shoot in 2000]. Russell Crowe had that accident [he injured his shoulder while prepping for the film], it shut down, there was a [potential] strike, I lost my financing, we got it together again with [someone else], he left, it was done. But on Sugarland, I said, ''I'm going to write this part for myself so that I'm in it and at least I'll have one actor I can count on for financing who's not flaky.'' So I did that and the studio pulled the plug despite that.
Are you pissed?
I don't hate anybody for it. What I was mad at is that [the studio] didn't tell me earlier, because I had taken a big window out for that time and as an actor, when I don't work it costs me a lot of money.
Did you turn down anything interesting?
No. [Laughing] Not really. That's just what I told them... If I never acted again, I wouldn't care. I like making movies and talking about them and conceiving of them, but the acting is more of a pain.
See the trailer for Jodie Foster's The Brave One