Nor will Foster put to rest persistent speculation in the industry and in some quarters of the gay community that she has chosen to make her life with another woman. But though she refuses to address that particular issue, she aims to be unguarded in her day-to-day life. "I think of myself as phenomenally open," she says. "My children would say that, the people who know me would say that, the people who see me in the park would say that. Because when you have kids, you have to be open. Otherwise, what kind of message would that send? You can make a choice that brings them dignity or you can make a choice that’s some hiding, shameful thing. I always choose dignity." While many scoff at her definition of "open," Foster clearly has no intention of feeding a media machine that subsists on celebrity confessionals. If her deliberately worded response is not enough to quell the curiosity, she is content to let her audience stew. "I live a tremendously open life," she repeats for emphasis. "However, I don’t feel the need to exploit via the media my personal life. I don’t want to bring them into my circus. For what? To promote a movie? That would be strange."
As for the Future…
Foster’s reticence, rare in a culture where other celebrities her age are jumping around on Oprah’s couch, is in no small part the aftermath of another off-limits topic, an experience that left her shattered and determined to be no one’s icon. When John Hinckley, Jr., tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in a bid to impress Foster, whom he had been stalking, she was a freshman at Yale. She and her mother resolved to never talk about the tragedy in public, she says, because, "I want people to remember me as an actor, not some historical footnote." But the episode distilled for her the dangers of her chosen profession. "Suddenly I understood something I hadn’t understood before. I saw ahead of me the life I had been leading, and I didn’t want to be Tom Cruise."
Late on this Tuesday afternoon, long after lunch has ended and the plates have been cleared, Jodie Foster must qualify as the only woman in Hollywood who claims to look forward to aging. In coming years, she plans to direct more and maybe not work much at all, until the boys are older. "But at 65, I’m coming back with a vengeance," she warns with a sly grin. "I’d like to be a Simone Signoret-type actress, with the big old hooded eyes and kind of overweight and craggy, with gray hair." She tugs at her cheeks and pokes out her bottom lip. It’s hard to imagine gravity complying with her wishes. "There are going to be all these actresses pulled and pushed and dyed and Botoxed, and there’s going to be nobody to play the real parts." Even then, you sense, she’ll still prefer to park at the meter.
Originally published in More magazine, October 2005.