From 12-year-old prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster has never shied away from courageous roles. Her latest film Hotel Artemis – the first in over five years – sees Jodie star as ‘The Nurse’ who runs a secret, members-only emergency room (disguised as a hotel) for criminals set in riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles. ‘The Nurse’ is the embittered one in charge, using technologically-advanced equipment to fix up those in need with the help of her orderly Everest (Dave Bautista). The film boasts an A-list cast with star turns also from Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto and Charlie Day.
In celebration of the film’s release later this month, we’re taking a look back at six of Jodie’s most prolific and iconic performances throughout the decades…
6. The Silence of the Lambs
Foster won her second Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role with this 1991 thriller for her brilliant performance as Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee tasked with helping to solve a serial murder case by interviewing the famous Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. While co-star Anthony Hopkins gets a lot of attention for his scene-stealing turn as Lecter, Foster is the standout; equal parts intelligent, resourceful, self-doubting, frightened and brave, Foster brings a real humanity to a great female protagonist.
5. Taxi Driver
At the tender age of 12, Foster took on a very adult role in Martin Scorsese’s classic film. This risk paid off perfectly and it was the young actresses breakout role, earning her first Oscar nomination. As Iris, a child prostitute who Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle attempts to strike up a friendship with, Foster is equal parts childlike (watch how she eats her food in the dinner scene) and an old soul, making for some truly unnerving scenes.
In this adaptation of Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel, Foster plays Dr. Eleanor Arroway, an astronomer determined to find proof of alien life and indeed one day her satellite array picks up a message from space. Eleanor is a very lonely character – an orphan and single aside from a later on-off romance with Matthew McConaughey’s religious advisor – but her loneliness furthers her determination, which Foster portrays beautifully.
3. The Accused
In a film that feels very contemporary, Foster stars as Sarah, a young woman who is brutally gang raped in a bar by three men. With the help of District Attorney Katheryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis, who interestingly turned down the role of Sarah) works to bring the men who cheered her attacker on to justice. At the time (and depressingly, now) Sarah would not be considered a perfect victim – she’s loud, smokes weed and is promiscuous – but Foster’s snarling resolve makes for a compelling and sympathetic character.
2. Bugsy Malone
If you want proof that Foster could be wise beyond her years but are put off by the uncomfortable subject matter of Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone is the film for you. A classic prohibition gangster story, but with an all-child cast and “splurge guns”, our hero Bugsy (Scott Baio) finds himself in the middle of a gang war between Fat Sam and Dandy Dan. Foster plays Tallulah, a fairly adult character but a very tongue-in-cheek performance, demonstrating how precocious an actress young Foster was.
1. Inside Man
Arguably director Spike Lee’s most mainstream film to-date, Inside Man shows a well-organised bank robbery escalate into a hostage situation, with NYPD detectives Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) assigned to the case. It’s a very slick thriller, full of tension and energy and what is easily Foster’s best bad guy performance. As Madeleine White, she schmoozes and double-deals in a way that would make Gordon Gecko blink twice, and while there may be better Foster performances, there are very few where she’s having this much fun.
Hotel Artemis is released in cinemas across the UK on July 20, 2018.
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