Last week Jodie Foster flew into Austin, Texas from Paris set of Gods of Carnage directed by Roman Polanski (don't get me started) to attend the premiere of The Beaver, her latest directing vehicle. (She also co-stars in the film.) In case you've been under a rock, the film stars Mel Gibson as a man dealing with a personal crisis who resorts to communicating through a beaver hand puppet. I know, it sounds a bit bizarre. Reports were the film played pretty well (it is not a comedy) and reviews were mixed to good. Summit will open the film in limited release on May 6 and roll it out wider on May 20.
Foster is on a personal campaign to salvage this film's release in the wake of Mel Gibson's behavior. I thought it was ironic that the film premiered the same day that Gibson turned himself in after he cut a deal to plead no contest last week to beating up his ex-girlfriend. He received three years probation.
But seriously, I feel for Jodie Foster because she has not had the easiest career as a director. Several films (Flora Plum) never got off the ground and not only does she believe in Mel, she believes in this film, and is doing all that she can to shift the press away from Mel's off screen antics towards his performance onscreen. They are also benefiting from the fact that Charlie Sheen has become the craziest guy in Hollywood wresting that position from Gibson.
Foster did a bunch of interviews in Austin which is so refreshing because you never really hear her voice. I have linked to Anne Thompson's interviews below because she did ask some tough questions and Jodie gave some honest answers. She called the film "the biggest struggle of her professional career."
I have been critical -- and I still am -- of Jodie's unending support of Gibson. She can be friends with whomever she pleases, but as a woman who has been a victim of an obsessive stalker, and who also won an Oscar for playing a rape victim (The Accused), I would imagine (and hope) that she would have some issues with her good friend's Mel's behavior. In the interviews with Anne Thompson they talk about how Mel is such a great guy on the set. It's nice to read that he is not berating people at work and acts appropriately, but seriously, does that excuse his private behavior? And since when do people get accolades for acting like they are supposed to?
I will be very impressed if Jodie Foster can get people to see this film with all the baggage. But for her this is a win, win. She's out of her shell talking about her film and her work, and she's being a good friend. She really wants to direct more now that her kids are growing up. I want to be supportive of her as a director because we really need more high profile female directors. I really hope she gets a new directing project off the ground soon.
Here are some comments she made to IndieWIRE:
As someone who became successful at a very early age, you have always had the opportunity to avoid difficult projects like this. What keeps you from just resigning yourself to action movies?
Well. That’s just the director I am. I make personal films. When you know that you’re going to be on something for two years and it’s going to be the story of your life and you have to wake up at three in the morning and have ideas…it’s an obsession. In order to be obsessed with something, it has to be something that speaks from an incredibly primal place. I had a certain career as an actor that I think was quite personal as well, and had a lot of integrity, but I wasn’t writing my own things or directing my own movies. There was a different set of criteria for that, and I don’t have to fulfill any of it as a director. If I make two movies my entire life, and they’re two movies that—whether they make a lot of money or two people go to see them—they speak of me, then I consider them incredibly successful. I don’t need to be Steven Spielberg. It’s not the kind of movies I make, and that’s just not the order of business.
Also she is definitely looking to direct more:
I feel like if there was a time to slow down as an actor, it’s now. A time to direct more, that’s now. One thing that disappoints me is that I haven’t directed more. There are a lot of things going on in my life. I have two kids, I have a career as an actress, I ran a company, which really slowed me down. Also, I make personal movies and they’re impossible to get off the ground. I think some of that is going to change because of the new technologies and avenues for distribution. There will be more opportunities for different sizes of movies to be made, because they’re all going to be viewed on the same TV screen at your house. I think it’s an exciting time for smaller movies, really. The way the studio system is going to change will be in the favor of people who are entrepreneurial, who produce, write, direct, act. People who have enough as a brand so that some place like Yahoo or Amazon or iTunes can say, “You take care of everything.” So I think it’s a really exciting time for smaller films. It hasn’t been, up until now.
Jodie Foster on Mel Gibson: 'I Knew the Minute I Met Him, I Would Love Him' Forever (Hollywood Reporter)