Jodie Foster (born November 19, 1962) is an American actress who began her career as a tomboyish and mature child actress. Although she demonstrated a flair for comedy, she is best known for her dramatic portrayals of misfit characters set against intimidating challenges.
In 1981, Foster became a full-time student at Yale. She later stated that going to college changed her thoughts about acting, which she had previously thought was an unintelligent profession, but now realized that “what I really wanted to do was to act and there was nothing stupid about it.” Although Foster prioritized college during these years, she continued making films on her summer vacations. These were O’Hara’s Wife (1982), television film Svengali (1983), John Irving adaptation The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), French film The Blood of Others (1984), and period drama Mesmerized (1986), which she also co-produced. None of them gained large audiences or critical appreciation, and after graduating from Yale in 1985, Foster struggled to find further acting work.
Foster’s first film after college, the neo-noir Siesta (1987), was a failure. Her next project, the independent film Five Corners (1987), was better received. A moderate critical success, it earned Foster an Independent Spirit Award for her performance as a woman whose sexual assaulter returns to stalk her. The following year, Foster made her debut as a director with the episode “Do Not Open This Box” for the horror anthology series Tales from the Darkside, and starred in the romantic drama Stealing Home (1988) opposite Mark Harmon. The film was a critical and commercial failure, with critic Roger Ebert “wondering if any movie could possibly be that bad.”
Foster’s breakthrough into adult roles came with her performance as a rape survivor in The Accused (1988). Based on a real criminal case, the film focuses on the aftermath of a gang rape and its survivor’s fight for justice in the face of victim blaming. Before making the film, Foster was having doubts about whether to continue her career and planned on starting graduate studies, but decided to give acting “one last try” in The Accused. She had to audition twice for the role and was cast only after several more established actors had turned it down, as the film’s producers were wary of her due to her previous failures and because she was still remembered as a “chubby teenager.” Due to the heavy subject matter, the filming was a difficult experience for all cast and crew involved, especially the shooting of the rape scene, which took five days to complete. Foster was unhappy with her performance and feared that it would end her career. Instead, The Accused received positive reviews, with Foster’s performance receiving widespread acclaim and earning her Academy, Golden Globe and National Board of Review awards, as well as a nomination for a BAFTA Award.
Here are some amazing photographs of a young Jodie Foster in the 1980s: