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Jodie Foster and The Beaver

by Melissa Silverstein
March 22, 2011 4:36 AM
10 Comments
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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.

SXSW Video: Jodie Foster Talks Beaver Stars Gibson and Lawrence’s Pain, Her Own Split Personality (Thompson on Hollywood)

Jodie Foster on Mel Gibson: 'I Knew the Minute I Met Him, I Would Love Him' Forever (Hollywood Reporter)

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10 Comments

  • Amelia | March 27, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    For me, I like Jodie Foster and I don't 'get' her working with Mel Gibson & Polanksi... but that's her choice, and of course no one should lose all their friends even if they are a horrible person (at times).

    I've really liked Mel Gibson in the past (and one stage would have said he was my favourite actor). However I don't want to see another film with Mel Gibson in it... unless he appears to have changed for the better as a human being. Mel has been accused of saying quite anti-Semitic & sexist things in the past, and of beating up his girlfriend (as well as telling her something along the lines of she deserves to be raped).

    Nothing has indicated to me that Mel is particularly remorseful about any of his previous actions, or that he is now less sexist, abusive or racist than he was not so long ago...

    I have a problem watching movies with misogynist actors (who have been violent towards women), or listening to music written by men who have been violent towards women. I enjoy watching American Idol but when I hear someone sing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown, and hear James Brown being referred to as the 'King of Soul' I want to say, "He's a wife beater & an alleged rapist!" (he has been arrested numerous times for domestic violence against his wives & partners, and he was accused by an ex-employee of rape). When I hear someone sing Elvis Presley I want to say, "he raped his wife when he found out that she'd been having an affair" (marital rape probably wasn't illegal at that time, but still).

    I don't want guys like Mel Gibson (or James Brown, or Elvis Presley, or Sean Connery) to be primarily remembered by the public for their domestic violence (and I believe people should receive a second chance), but I don't want it to be completely forgotten either. I think people are quick to forget. Me & my Mum don't want to watch Mel Gibson ever again. My brothers and father, on the other hand, had no moral issue AT ALL watching Mel Gibson in his latest movie a few weeks ago... and I really don't understand that. I think I would feel sick watching him in a movie now, because I would have the things he (allegedly) said and did to his girlfriend at the back of my mind the whole time...

  • WinsomeLady | March 26, 2011 5:08 AMReply

    I'm going to be seeing this movie when it comes out. Have been looking forward to it for a long time. Nothing Mel Gibson does in his private life is any of my business (or yours). Mel, Jodie and the rest of the cast will make this a great film. Glad to see it released.

  • Caiassa | March 25, 2011 8:39 AMReply

    I find the differing attitudes on here towards Mel and Jodie to be very interesting. As for Jodie, I don't get her...don't get Polanski at all. It's simple, he raped a child.

    Mel seems more complicated to me. I watched Passion of the Christ and it sucked, but it had no plot so...where was the anti-semitism? I don't doubt Mel has issues, but on that front I see it as some two way street. I also wonder if some of the critics are gay and thought doing the anti-semitic route would help their antipathy towards him.

    His comments seem something to take in context, one which isn't black and white on that issue. As for women, I feel like I'm one of few women who have deep anger about how some girls and women get treated, but who noticed that Oksana was no victim. First, the tapes we heard were dubbed. That is what audio experts have told me...Oksana wasn't saying those things while Mel was raging. It doesn't justify his obvious anger issues, but she in my opinion fits the stereotype of the gold-digging manipulative female pseudo-victim.

    Jodie's seeming betrayal in dealing with Polanski bothers me more. I think Mel has a right to his private life and that he's been harassed and misrepresented, although he absolutely has serious issues inside of himself.

    Jodie seems more together and maybe b/c she's a woman I just don't understand her and frankly, her attitude turns me off. Also, I'm just not that into the kinds of movies she makes.

  • Lisa | March 24, 2011 3:25 AMReply

    I will definately see this movie. Jodie Foster is a good director and actor, so is Mel. It looks good and maybe people will definately, learn from it. You can't just get over depression. Mel might have depression issue, I don't know I am not a doctor. But I have dealt with relative that have depression. You really need to pray for them and be there for them. Not tape them and use them. I don't know Mel, but I will see the movie. Have you really felt kind a blah/down at times, well, double that when yiou have depression. Using alcohol is even worse. I really don't believe he hates jew, black people etc... I think right now he doesn't like himself. I do like Mel as a director, actor and as a human being. I think he got off course, like we all do. Should of never left his beautiful wife and now he is paying for it. I hope he dedicates the rest of his life to God and start his own network like Oprah did. But dedicated in doing God work. I think the "Passion of Christ" movie was great and not hateful. It was authentic to the Book (The Bible). I will miss his gift of story telling if he doesn't do it anymore. It will be our loss if he doesn't do it anymore, and ignorant on hollywood if they don't give him opportunity. When it comes to people who will not work with him, trust me, people need jobs he can find people to work for him. People need to stop judging and look at themselves before they point fingers. Hope people go see this movie, again you might learn something and understand. God Bless

  • Eileen | March 23, 2011 4:18 AMReply

    I have no interest in Mel Gibson and will not see this film under any circumstances. If she'd made the film with an actor who hadn't spent his life hating and alienating gay people (except for immediate coworkers), Jewish people (ditto), women, and people outside his faith maybe I'd have given it a chance. Oh well!

    She may not feel qualified to judge her peers, but I feel qualified to deny them my support. There's a lot of art in the world. I think I'll support the work of people who don't despise me.

  • Allison | March 23, 2011 3:11 AMReply

    I will not spend my money on either The Beaver or God of Carnage. I can't stand Gibson or Polanski and am very disappointed that Foster would work with them. (Plus The Beaver looks pretty ridiculous anyway!)

  • Akiva Penaloza | March 22, 2011 11:33 AMReply

    Mel is a brilliant director -- but I can't stomach his anti-semitism and his violence toward women. As a female Jew, he is no friend of mine. How Jodie Foster can work with him is something I'll never understand. And now with Roman Polanski -- she needs her head checked. I'm very disappointed in her and will miss nothing by skipping The Beaver (stupid title for a film) and Polanski's Gods of Carnage. They can both go to hell.

  • Faith | March 22, 2011 9:33 AMReply

    People certainly do bend over backwards to support white male patriarchy.

  • G | March 22, 2011 6:54 AMReply

    Nobody is perfect, but it it undeniable that Mel Gibson is a fantastic actor/director.
    Why should I hold something like this against him?
    Hes got problems, way worse than most people do, but they're still problems.
    And his ex we all KNOW is just trying to take him for money.
    Im not denying if shes a victim or not, but why abuse his personal rights by doing this in the public eye.And he was married for 20+ years without any incident, so.... this was hiding for twenty years, JUST until the moment she could take him for money. Yeah right.
    Im pro - Mel, because hes seems alright now, and because I dont belive in running away from people with problems. NO MATTER how BIG they are.
    Cant wait for The Beaver to come out.

  • Truthful | March 22, 2011 6:32 AMReply

    Melissa you wrote:
    " It’s nice to read that he is not berating people at work and acts appropriately, but seriously, does that excuse his private behavior?"
    Is that anybody's business?
    Does Mel Gibson not have a private life? If not, than all of Hollywood celebrities should have their private telephone conversations in whatever situ be made public. NONE of them are perfect.
    And is Oksana truly the innocent victim? Read her history.
    Oksana would make Heather Mills (McCartney) look like a canonized saint.

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