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EW Role Call: Jodie Foster

'Flightplan' latest film showing actress imperiled, empowered

By Gary Susman
Entertainment Weekly

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Jodie Foster in "Flightplan."

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(Entertainment Weekly) -- Victim or victor? In Jodie Foster's roles, there's often a little of both.

The "Panic Room" star's latest protective-mom-fighting-back role, in "Flightplan," sees her playing Kyle Pratt, a woman whose little girl vanishes during a commercial flight, but who can't convince the crew that her daughter was ever on board or even exists.

On the plus side, Kyle is not only fierce and determined, she's also an aircraft engineer who knows how to navigate the plane's innards during her desperate quest.

The two-time best actress Oscar winner has a long history of roles that allow her to play both imperiled and empowered, as the following gallery showsexternal link.

Even during her child actress years, Foster often played bossy girls getting into trouble -- Becky Thatcher in "Tom Sawyer" (1973), the worldly-wise pre-teens she played for Martin Scorsese in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974) and "Taxi Driver" (1976), the mini-moll in kiddie gangster musical "Bugsy Malone" (1976), and the mother-hen to a group of self-destructive high-school girls in "Foxes" (1980).

As an adult, she has played such flawed heroines as the rape victim who confronts her assailants in 1988's "The Accused" (earning her first Oscar), the green but steel-willed FBI trainee Clarice Starling in 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" (her second Oscar-winning role), the waitress raising a prodigy in "Little Man Tate" (1991), the doubt-riddled cosmic explorer of "Contact" (1997), and the mom protecting her daughter from violent burglars in "Panic Room" (2002).

No wonder Foster was Flightplan producer Brian Grazer's choice to play Kyle. ''Who does the audience want to get their child back? Jodie,'' Grazer tells Entertainment Weekly. ''But she has this other dimension, which is power. You're allowed to let her be vulnerable or weak, because you know Jodie can recover from that and kick ass.''

Foster chalks up her own interest in heroic maternal roles to her age and motherhood (she has two sons, Charlie, 7, and Kit, almost 4). At 42, she tells EW, ''You don't have to worry about being the ingenue or being cast as Tom Cruise's girlfriend ever again.'' And that protective streak exists in real life, she says. ''If you woke me up in the middle of the night, I'd go: Charlie, what's up?'' Thinking of her sons, she says, ''I don't actually sleep -- they're still in my head.''

On Foster's plate is "Sugarland," a docudrama she'd direct and possibly star in, about a heroic lawyer who takes on a powerful sugar baron. She's also spent several years developing a biopic of Leni Riefenstahl, the German actress/director ("Triumph of the Will") who was one of cinema's pioneering visionaries and most notorious propagandists, a woman who was either a Nazi dupe or a collaborator.

Imperiled or empowered? In Foster's hands, probably both.

Click hereexternal link to see the gallery.


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