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Interview with Jodie Foster

Aired March 27, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Jodie Foster, a personal one-on-one with a very private celebrity. She's a single mom, a child star who didn't crash and burn, and a two-time Oscar winner. And she's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We always look forward to an hour with Jodie Foster because she's always so interesting, never dull. Never does anything in her life that goes off -- she's always a little bit edge of center. That's why we love her.

Jodie Foster, who is a two-time Oscar winner for "The Accused" and for "Silence of the Lambs" was last on this program in December of 1999. Since then, has had a second son, Kit. First son, Charles, was born before -- how is Kit and Charles, by the way?

JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS: They're good. Both at very fun stages.

KING: I have got two boys. Do you like that?

FOSTER: I love two boys.

KING: Are they getting along?

FOSTER: They're getting along. You know, Charlie is that stage where he likes to tell jokes. And he's into the fantasy thing where he says, I'm Buzz Lightyear and you're Girl Buzz, and makes me do things. And the baby is just at that stage where he just, you know, kicks and blows raspberries and laughs at everything.

KING: I want to get into a lot of that stuff later, but let's talk first about "Panic Room." First, the unusual aspect of this film is you aren't the original star.

FOSTER: That's right. I came in and replaced somebody.

KING: What's the story? What happened?

FOSTER: Nicole Kidman had an injury to her knee, which has -- she had sustained other injuries as well.

KING: Making the film?

FOSTER: She had been injured before in other movies, and then yes, making the movie. KING: She started to make the film? So, she did scenes?

FOSTER: She did 10 days of work, yes. And so quickly, they had to find somebody before the actors' strike or the film would have been shut down. And I just happened to have been free because my movie was shut down by another Australian who had an injury. So there I was.

KING: Did you take it right away? I mean, was there no question? Because you're a big star. You don't have to step in. You didn't need it.

FOSTER: No, I -- well, it would be my pleasure to step in actually. I kind of like that last-minute thing. But it was especially David Fincher, you know, somebody that I wanted to work with for a very long time. He's just a magnificent director and somebody I've looked up to forever and have kept in touch with over the years. So I was ready to do anything he wanted.

KING: So you didn't feel like I was second choice for this film?

FOSTER: No, no, not at all. No, I like being an understudy.

KING: And how about Kristen Stewart, the young daughter who is in as many scenes you are?

FOSTER: She's wonderful. I spent a long time with her in that little room. She turned 11 on the movie. What's interesting is that she looks -- I think, anyway, she looks so much like me when I was a kid. And she sort of has the same quality, kind of stoic and very reserved emotionally and kind of a tough kid. And I really enjoyed my time with her.

KING: She had already started the movie with Nicole.

FOSTER: She had already started the movie with Nicole and we had to start all over again.

KING: And you were pregnant?

FOSTER: I was pregnant, yes, through the whole movie, which is not necessarily a great idea.

KING: How long did that take to shoot?

FOSTER: It was a long film. It was about five, 5 1/2 months of shooting.

KING: You didn't show any weight gain?

FOSTER: Oh, sure I did.

KING: You did?

FOSTER: Oh, yeah. Well, you'll see it. There's a strategic moment in the movie where I had to put on a sweater. And, you know, there's only one reason why you put on a sweater in a movie. KING: Were they shocked when they said, oh by the way, I'm pregnant? Did they say, oh God, we have got to find someone else now?

FOSTER: No, no. I think, you know, certain pregnancy isn't really a disability. The good news is you're very happy when you're pregnant, so I was very happy for the whole film. And it really didn't effect it too badly. We did have to move some scenes around and, you know, we did end up reshooting a few days of work.

KING: You may have been happy through the whole film, but you ain't happy in the film. The character ain't happy.


KING: Tell me the concept of a "Panic Room."

FOSTER: Well, the idea is is that some people have installed safe rooms in their houses, people that are extremely paranoid, extremely rich, for all sorts of reasons. And if you buy one of these houses that have these elaborate systems, you would inherit this panic room.

KING: They do exist, by the way?

FOSTER: Yes, they do exist. One that's decked out the way ours is in the movie would be quite rare. But even if you go in to have your alarm system done on your house, the technician will come in and say, you should designate a safe room to go to just in case something happens to you in a home invasion. Some place, usually a closet that doesn't have a window and that you could deadbolt and you would have a line directly to the police department, just in case anything happens. Most people have that.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think Gavin deBecker, an expert on stalking recommends...

FOSTER: He does. And he says that, you know, if you're going to die in a home invasion, it is usually in the first half hour. So if you can stay safe for the first half hour, you're in good shape.

KING: Do you like doing this kind of harrowing, intense work?

FOSTER: I like dramas. I've always liked dramas. And I'm a pretty light person. I don't consider myself a very dramatic person. But I do like doing that onscreen.

KING: Was it tough to make?

FOSTER: It was a very difficult shoot, physically, emotionally, being in a room for that long, being in the same clothes. Also, the director who is just an extraordinary, visionary guy is also very meticulous and makes very meticulous movies. So, a lot of takes.

KING: Do you like that or not like it? Tom Cruise loves...

FOSTER: He does? KING: Yes. He says the more, the better. Wants it perfect.

FOSTER: I don't know. Most actors complain about it. But, no, I mean, that's just his way. You know, every director has their way. And this is his way. When you see the end result, I think you're just thrilled. That's the beauty of making a movie like this. It isn't necessarily very fun while you're shooting it, but at the end of the day you kind of dust yourself off and feel like you've done something.

KING: You like working with Forrest Whitaker?

FOSTER: I like Forrest Whitaker a lot. We didn't have a lot to do with each other because he's either running after me or I'm running after him. So we don't have a lot of scenes together. But, Dwight Yoakam is also in the film, who is wonderful, and Jared Leto.

KING: And you have to call on your ex-husband to help?

FOSTER: Yes, and he's not much help now, is he?

KING: No, he isn't. He needed the tourist (ph) from you, boy.


A lot of guys will say they watched this movie. If your ex-wife calls, you don't have to go over.

FOSTER: That's true.

KING: You're not necessarily needed or you're going to get hit around.

FOSTER: That's true. Well, what's interesting about the film is that she's a character who has lost all of her confidence. She's gone through a terribly bitter divorce with a much richer, much older man. And it's kind of taken her identity away. She's shaken. And her daughter is at that age where she makes fun of her all the time and thinks she's an idiot. So that kind of shakes her as well. And she walks into this house. And her instincts are this is a bad idea and gets sucked into it because somebody told her she should.

KING: Where did you find that apartment, that house?

FOSTER: Well, they built it. They built the house in Los Angeles. But it's modeled after a real brownstone in New York City.

KING: Yes, because it's a New York feeling.

FOSTER: It is a New York feeling. It's a real Central Park west apartment, slightly larger.

KING: Is this an original script?

FOSTER: It is an original script by David Koepp, yes.

KING: And the girl to have diabetes... FOSTER: Yes.

KING: ... works.

FOSTER: Yes, the daughter has diabetes. You don't really realize it in the beginning. There are a few allusions to it. It is very subtle. And then you realize it throughout that her blood levels are dropping precipitously and that she could potentially go into a coma. And that enters into the film.

KING: What's the work process like when you're doing a movie? Like, during those long times, if he's meticulous, then you probably had two hours between set-ups.

FOSTER: Yes, that's true. And there I was napping.

KING: You sleep?

FOSTER: I like to nap. I do like to sleep. Sometimes I sleep in between takes. Especially when you're pregnant, you need your sleep.

KING: But I've had actors say they that they use that time to think about the next scene and what they've got to say in the next scene and the motivation for the next scene is.

FOSTER: Yes. I just nap.

KING: You don't need any of that?

FOSTER: No, I just sleep. I need to sleep, though. I mean, I need the down time. I need that restful time which is something that you really miss when you're acting and directing yourself.

KING: Are you good at remembering your lines?

FOSTER: I didn't have a lot of lines in this movie, but yes, I think I'm pretty good at remembering my lines.

KING: The movie is "Panic Room." It opens the 29th. The guest is Jodie Foster. She is with us for the whole show. Don't go away.


FOSTER: Wake up. Sara, get up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do that for?

FOSTER: Ssshh.







Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait. Hold on.

Go, Dan.


KING: We're back with Jodie Foster. We'll discuss a lot more about "Panic Room" later. Oh, but one other thing on it.


KING: Some women when pregnant would probably think...

FOSTER: She's not allowed to do something like this.

KING: ... why am I going to make a movie like this in which I have to be very physical and I have -- while I know I'm not in a locked room, I still have to play locked room? Do you ever think of the side effects?

FOSTER: No. You know, it's just my job. And, as I said, I was extremely happy during this whole shoot. And, I don't know, maybe there's something wrong with me. I'm just not one of those people that goes into a trance. When I'm making a movie, I just don't go into a trance. It is very precise, precision work.

KING: It is work, though, right? It's work.

FOSTER: It is work. And the physical stuff is good in some ways.

KING: Now, how do you create fright?

FOSTER: You know, you just...

KING: There's 100 people standing around, right? The three guys you could have just had coffee with, now they want to kill you. How do you create fright?

FOSTER: You know, I'm never good at these questions because my only answer is really that you say the words and you feel the feelings. And I don't really know any other explanation.

KING: Do you find the feelings from somewhere?

FOSTER: I think you do. Yes, I think you do.

KING: Where were you trained?

FOSTER: I wasn't trained.

KING: You were not...


KING: Just went to Yale.

FOSTER: I went to Yale. But I didn't study -- certainly didn't study theater.

KING: You weren't a drama major?


KING: What did you major?

FOSTER: Literature, which I think is really helpful because it's about reading and about reading the text and interpreting it.

KING: So you didn't do any Stanislovsky (ph), actors' studio, none of that?

FOSTER: No, although I have a great respect for it and I worked with a lot of actors that do that kind of stuff. You know, you have your -- as you get older, you develop your own techniques for things. For example, I need to be distracted in between takes. I don't need to focus because if I focus all day, by the end, I'll just be so tired I'll fall down in a heap.

KING: Your former co-star, Anthony Hopkins, was once asked a question similar to that. How did you find that to be Hannibal Lechter. And he just said it's called acting.

FOSTER: That's right. No, that's true. And sometimes I'm embarrassed by the fact that I don't have a handle, really, on the training that other people do. But, you know, you do develop your own style and your own methods.

KING: You ever done stage work?

FOSTER: Very little. Only in college.

KING: Would you ever like the do a Broadway play?

FOSTER: Broadway? I don't know. There's a part of me that does because I'd like the see what it is. And there's a part of me that just loves the technical aspects of making movies so much. That's why I go to work every day.

KING: And you like directing too, right?

FOSTER: Yes. But I don't make movies because I love to act. I make movies because I like to make movies and I like to be a part of that process. And I think I would probably be just as happy being a boom man or a mixer or -- you know, it is all kind of a math equation for me. I'm just a great movie fan.

KING: When you see a script, you're not only interested in the part, you're interested in how are they going to do this?

FOSTER: Yes. And I would even go so far as to say the part is usually the third or fourth thing that I think of. And the first thing I think of is the movie itself and what it is trying to say and whether it does that successfully.

KING: You've carefully avoided ever discussing your personal life. Hasn't that been -- we've had some cute exchanges over this over the years, so I'm not going to get involved with you. I don't need this. It's only a living. How have you been able though to avoid the intensity of that in a public life?

FOSTER: I don't know. I mean, I'm not that -- I'm just not that public a person. You know, it's just not my personality. If it was my personality, that would be great. It just isn't. I'm kind of a private person. I guess I just don't go out that much.

KING: But people must be on the story all the time, like who is the father of the kids. People are on that so aren't -- that's so tough to track down. They must have investigative reporters everywhere.

FOSTER: Don't ask me. I don't know. I don't know. But as I've said before, and I still hold to, I truly am the most boring person alive. And if there was a great investigation to be found at the end of the resume, it would be, the most boring person alive.

KING: You consider yourself that?

FOSTER: Yes, I do.

KING: OK. Single parenting, what's that like?

FOSTER: Parenting is parenting. It is hard.

KING: You were raised by a mother and father, right?


KING: You weren't?


KING: They were divorced?

FOSTER: Divorced, but I had never lived with him or known him. They were divorced before I was born.

KING: Ah, so you were raised by a mother who never remarried?

FOSTER: Right. Yes.

KING: So this is part of your culture?

FOSTER: It is a part of your culture, too. I mean, you know, there are all different kinds of... KING: My father died when I was nine. So I didn't have a father during those years, yes.

FOSTER: But, you know, there are all different kinds of families. And there kind of is this propaganda out there that says, you know, most of the population is being raised by mothers and fathers. In some ways, unfortunately, you know, that's just not true. There's just all kinds of families. And now more than ever, I think it is important for us to embrace that.

KING: Do you think you're better off with a male present?

FOSTER: I wouldn't know. I think you're better off being loved. I think loving your kids is the most important thing. And it's the quality of that love, it's not the quantity and the amount of people that are doing it.

KING: Do you agree with the fact then that gays should be able to adopt children?

FOSTER: Of course. Yes, of course.

KING: The Rosie O'Donnell matter, et cetera.

FOSTER: Yes, of course.

KING: Florida?

FOSTER: Of course.

KING: You see no problem with any of that?

FOSTER: No. It's a case by case basis, I'm sure.

KING: Well, isn't it more difficult being single raising two people? Whether you have a -- whoever was there?

FOSTER: I don't know. I'm so not the expert on these kinds of things. I really don't know. You know, you just live your life and you do what you do and you hope that you love them as much as you can. And you hope that -- as you put a little money away for them for therapy later on. So, you know -- pack it away a little bit.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You're going to be in big trouble some day.

FOSTER: My mother was such a bore. That's what he is going to say. That's what they're both going to say.

KING: But they are going to ask who their father is?

FOSTER: Yes, they will.

KING: And they're going to go to school and they're going to hear the word daddy, right. Are you going to tell them?

FOSTER: Of course. And I'm not going to tell you.

KING: Oh, I don't -- hey, you may not believe this, I don't care. As long as you're happy.

FOSTER: I know you don't care.

KING: I really don't.

FOSTER: No, it's their life. And they should own it and it should be about them. And I want to respect them and respect their process.

KING: Where were you on 9/11?

FOSTER: It was the first day of my son's preschool. I was asleep and was quickly awakened by it, and watching TV like everyone else.

KING: Remember your first thoughts?

FOSTER: Yes. Just couldn't believe it. Just -- I couldn't believe it, just impossible to believe.

KING: Did the boy go to school?

FOSTER: Yes, he did. Did I tell him about it? Absolutely not. He's not really at that age where he needs to know.

KING: They wouldn't understand that.


KING: What do you thing of the aftermath of it, all that's gone on?

FOSTER: Well, it's an amazing time in American history. It really is for -- there's a part of us that's -- all of us that are so proud of New York City and the people in Washington and how they've reacted, of the community feeling. But also, this horrible feeling that we in some ways are -- Americans are like these beautiful children that are kept from really seeing what's out there.

KING: By the way, do you have any hesitation about making a movie that is violent? This movie is violent.

FOSTER: No. I make dramas and dramas that talk about violence. If there's a message to this movie, it's don't get a panic room because paranoia is not a good idea.

KING: It is not going to sell panic rooms?

FOSTER: No, it is not going to. It's an anti-panic room movie and if there's a message certainly relating to 9/11, it's that rather than spending the time buying firearms in order to deal with a dark eventuality, people should be paying attention and being vigilant to the signs before they happen. KING: Isn't your first hit movie "Taxi Driver"?

FOSTER: My first hit movie -- well, I was in a couple of other successful movies like "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and a lot of Disney films that were pretty successful. But "Taxi Driver" was...

KING: But you got a lot of attention in "Taxi Driver" which was about man's predilection to kill someone.

FOSTER: Yes. It is an anti-hero film.

KING: Let me talk more about this career. Jodie Foster has had an incredible career since literature at Yale. I like that. We'll be back with Jodie Foster. She stars in "Panic Room". It opens March 29th. Don't go away.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: What's your name?


DE NIRO: Well, that's not any kind of name.

FOSTER: Well, it's easy to remember.

DE NIRO: Yes, but what's your real name?

FOSTER: I don't like my real name.

DE NIRO: But what's your real name?




KING: We're back with Jodie Foster. The impact of 9/11 on movies, we're going to see a lot more patriotic movies. And patriotic movies, "When We Were Soldiers," they tend to do well.

FOSTER: That's true.

KING: Have you seen a script that deals with it?

FOSTER: No, no. Not really. But "Panic Room" does deal with the issues that are going around our country about that kind of thing, like paranoia and violence and home invasion and the idea of invasion and how one can prepare for it.

KING: Do you ever get used to being -- I mean, you've been in the spotlight your whole life.

FOSTER: I know. Isn't that weird? It is strange.

KING: Do you ever get used to that?

FOSTER: You get used to it, and it's a weird thing to get used to. And different people develop different mechanisms for handling it, or not handling it. And I think -- the way that I've handled it is to say I do a job from 8:00 in the morning, let's say, until 6:00 at night, and then after 6:00 I go home, you know, and take my makeup off and I go home and I do my stuff. You know, that's just my job, that's not who I am.

KING: You say you're very boring. Do you try to live a normal life?

FOSTER: Yeah, I do. I think I do everything that I want to do. It's not like I stop myself from doing anything. I mean, there are some things that maybe I wouldn't want to do because they're slightly -- they're too crowded. You know, there are certain things that might just be too crowded. But other than that, no, I don't really stop myself from doing anything.

KING: Like Disneyland?

FOSTER: Like Disneyland -- but, you know, I just went to Disneyland recently. I just picked a time when it wasn't very crowded.

KING: Because you got to have your time -- you got to have a day to yourself where you are going to have fun. And your kids are going to grow up with this.

FOSTER: Of course.

KING: How do you handle that?

FOSTER: You know, I don't know. It hasn't really come up. I don't really think the baby's too young and Charlie -- I don't think he really understands what I do. For the longest time he really thought I was doing construction; he thought construction was my job, because he came to the set a few times and the panic room was there, and there were all these guys with tools banging on it. So he thought that's what I did. And he kept asking me, what tools do you use at work?

KING: Does he watch any of your movies?

FOSTER: No. He hasn't watched any of my movies. I tried to get him to watch one of these compilation tapes that they have of my after-school specials, and after 10 minutes, he just wanted to turn it off. He just was like, yeah, yeah, OK, that's you when you were little. Can I watch something else?

KING: Were you angered at your brother's book?

FOSTER: Angry? No.

KING: Hurt?

FOSTER: Hurt, not for myself really. You know, it was just so silly. It's...

KING: You were surprised?

FOSTER: I was surprised, yes. Surprised.

KING: Talk to him about it?

FOSTER: No, no. No talking.

KING: So you have no family relationship?

FOSTER: No, but, you know, we really haven't for many, many, many years. He's gone through -- you know, he's sort of the black sheep of the family and has been for many years. And he's gone through his periods where -- long periods of not seeing us and us not seeing him. So really probably in the course of the last 20 years, I've probably seen him less than 10 times.

KING: But it's sad, though, isn't it? Blood.

FOSTER: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, you know, it's an interesting thing, this phenomenon of...

KING: Tell-all?

FOSTER: Tell-all things. You know, it's just so silly and kind of just silly. It's just silly.

KING: But why is the public -- I guess the public has a macabre perception to read about people more famous than them?

FOSTER: Sure, they do, but I think it's a natural -- I think it's a natural curiosity that people have. They want to know about famous people's lives because they see their freckles and they see their eyebrows and they know so much about them, and they want to know more. Yeah.

KING: Do you read the tabloids?

FOSTER: No. No, no, I don't.

KING: You're in them a lot.


KING: Do people tell you when you're in them a lot?

FOSTER: No, they don't. They really don't.

KING: Did you ever think of suing?

FOSTER: Not really. No. No. I mean, why? You know, why just inflame it all more?

KING: Comes and goes, right? I mean, it goes away. One thing about them, there's so much of them that it becomes forgettable. You forget what story appeared the day before.

FOSTER: Right. I mean, as I said, you know, it is a very difficult lesson to learn. And yes, it does click away at your ego and it takes many years to get this one. But finally, it's just my job.

KING: How old were you when you started? What age were your first movie?

FOSTER: My first movie I was I think 6 1/2. My first commercial was 3. And I started television right around 5.

KING: How did you get into that so early?

FOSTER: My brother was an actor. And I just followed him. I kind of waddled along and followed him.

KING: Someone saw you and said, hey, would you want to do a commercial?

FOSTER: Yeah. I wouldn't leave his side, and I went in and answered all the questions and started flexing my muscles, and they hired me.

KING: Now, what movie did you do at 6 1/2?

FOSTER: At 6 -- well, my first commercial was a Coppertone commercial. And at 6, I did a movie called "Menace on the Mountain," where my sidekick was a pig named Blossom.

KING: You did a Coppertone commercial where you pulled your little bathing suit down?

FOSTER: There was no bathing suit pulling on the commercial. There was on the advertisement but not on the commercial. They tried to get the dog to go up there and get the back of my bikini, you know, which didn't work.

KING: We've heard much about it and I've had the fortune and not so good fortune of interviewing child stars over the years.

FOSTER: That's right.

KING: Many of them. If they had a wish, it would be not to have been a child star.

FOSTER: Right, yeah, that's true.

KING: Would you share that view? Too much too soon?

FOSTER: Well, it is -- it's a very difficult way to grow up in the public eye. It is difficult for anyone, but especially for an adolescent, I would say. I mean, child stars, you know, when you're younger, I think it's much easier to forget about it, you're unconscious, but for adolescents, I think it's an inappropriate way to grow up. KING: Also, they used to do weird things in the old days to children. Lie to them. You know what I mean, directors would tell the kid your dog died to get them to cry.

FOSTER: Yeah, they would. They would also blame things on you. Like if the other actor was late or they were mad at them, they would just yell at the kids.

KING: How did you manage through of all this? I mean, you making movies and everything, to go to Yale? I mean, most people would say, what do you need this for? You're going to make a fortune, why do you got to go to an Eastern school?

FOSTER: Well, it was a choice that wasn't necessarily popular with everyone I knew. Certainly with my mom it was popular, something that she'd always hoped for for me and that she wanted to prepare me for. But I just never thought I was going to be an actor when I grew up. Really, honestly, I didn't think so. Everybody kept telling me that at 16 or 17 my career would be over, and I should prepare, I mean, you know, to have another interest. And I didn't think I have an actor's personality, which I still don't think I do.

KING: No, you don't.

FOSTER: So I thought, you know, I thought I'd probably end up doing something else.

KING: What was Yale like? I never asked you that.

FOSTER: It was great. It was great.

KING: Was?

FOSTER: It was just one of those -- just one of the perfect moments in my life.

KING: Did they leave you alone?

FOSTER: They did. I did have some public moments in college that were, you know, unhappy and unfortunate.

KING: The Hinckley thing?

FOSTER: Certainly. But all in all, yeah, it was a really joyful, joyful time for me.

KING: You handled that very admirably. You never talk about it, which is your want and everything, but it had to jolt you, to just be away at college and suddenly have this guy shooting at people who's writing to you. I mean, that had to be wacko.

FOSTER: It was a tough time.

KING: How did friends around you handle it?

FOSTER: Some did well, some didn't. Most did well, OK. KING: Do you still have friends from Yale?

FOSTER: Oh, I have -- almost all my friends are from -- either from college or from the years surrounding college.

KING: And what made it a great school?

FOSTER: You know, I liked the diversity of the campus. I like that there were people from every different background. It wasn't just the people who had the highest test scores. They were people who came with all different kinds of interests. And -- you learn a lot from school, but you learn mostly from your peers.

KING: As John Kennedy once said, I have the best of all worlds, a Harvard education, a Yale degree.

FOSTER: Is that what he said.

KING: Yes, when he got an honorary degree at Yale. We'll be right back with Jodie Foster and her incredible film career and her newest is "Panic Room" opening March 29th. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Piece of paper. Hey, Zorro, you going to help us out here? You got a piece of paper?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What is he doing?

FOSTER: I don't know. "What we want -- is in that room."



FOSTER: I crept up into the barn. I was so scared to look inside, but I had to.

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: And what did you see, Clarise? What did you see?

FOSTER: Lambs. They were screaming.

HOPKINS: They were slaughtering the spring lambs?

FOSTER: They were screaming.


KING: We are going to talk about her film career now. Her latest is "Panic Room." This is number what?

FOSTER: Movies? I think it is close to 40, but I'm not sure.

KING: Was "Silence" the biggest?

FOSTER: The biggest box office success was probably "Silence Of The Lambs" yes.

KING: Why did you not do the follow-up?

FOSTER: Well, officially I was making two other movies. I did -- I was making "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," coming out in June, a film that I produced as well.

KING: "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," is this about the Catholic Church?

FOSTER: Well, no, not really. It's about boys growing up in a Catholic school.

KING: And you direct it?

FOSTER: No, I just produced it and acted in it. Then I was also was doing "Flora Plum" the film I was directing, and unfortunately a couple weeks before shooting Russell Crowe had an injury and it shut us down. But basically I was committed to both of those movies and I wasn't available for "Hannibal."

KING: What did you think of "Hannibal?"

FOSTER: Well, that's something y'all will never know.

KING: Obviously, you aren't crazy about it or you would have said, God, it was terrific.

FOSTER: You know, I just don't want to comment on their movie, the same way I hope they won't comment on ours. But "Red Dragon," I'm looking forward to "Red Dragon" too. I just ran into Anthony Hopkins not too long ago.

KING: Who is going to be in that?

FOSTER: He's going to be in that.

KING: That's the first one. Well, that's a remake...

FOSTER: It is, it is a remake of the first one.

KING: Because they made "Manhunter."

FOSTER: They made "Manhunter" which was actually a fine film with Brian Cox playing Lechter. Before I ask about Russell, how about that character of Lechter?

FOSTER: Yes, isn't he great?

KING: Why were we so --

FOSTER: Taken by that. Such an interesting thing, I think, that the country, the consciousness just glommed right on to that. I think we have this terrible fear of course of random violence, that somebody could jump out of a closet and for absolutely no reason take us down. But also there's a grace and wit and a beauty and romanticism to Lechter despite the fact that he's a damaged and horrible, evil man. That two very, very distinct, you know, the beautiful and the ugly could exist in one character was just amazing to people.

KING: What was it like to work those scenes?

FOSTER: It was great. If there was one real moment in my life that I'll always remember onscreen, it was those scenes with Lechter and I where I feel like it's a play that I could do over and over again for the rest of my life.

KING: It must be great when two really top performers have one on one scenes.

FOSTER: It is great. Especially long scenes like that, that are so beautifully written. However, what's weird about it was that we have to do his side first, then we do my side. And his side, he was behind glass, so we would kind of screw him behind glass and put him there.

Most of the stuff is direct camera. So I never saw his face. I would sit behind the camera and never be able to see him. He would look directly into the lens. He almost never looked at me, which is strange when you think of all those wonderful close-ups where he's looking into me and pointing to my soul my souls and he's talking to absolutely nothing.

KING: How about you when you looked at him?

FOSTER: I saw absolutely nothing.

KING: It must have been a flip for you to see the finished product?

FOSTER: Yes, amazing to see the finished product because that film is so intensely connected and so intimate. "Panic Room" as well. For a thriller, you think of thriller, it was so meticulously done and so beautifully organized but a lot of those scenes, I wasn't in. I didn't know what was going on downstairs or know what's going on with some of the computer generated scenes. So when I saw the film, I was like, absolutely scared to death.

KING: You see things for the first?

FOSTER: That's right.

KING: Also the music.

FOSTER: Makes a big difference.

KING: And you were going to direct Russell Crowe, right?

FOSTER: Yes, I was.

KING: What happened?

FOSTER: The movie was "Flora Plum" about circus performers in the '30s.

KING: Are they ever going to do it?

FOSTER: We'll definitely do it. It's a great script.

KING: With him?

FOSTER: I don't think so, no.

KING: Because?

FOSTER: Many reasons but because he had intensely painful surgery where he has many pins in his shoulder. He'll never be able to really -- at least in the next year be able to raise his hand above his head let alone hang. He's an acrobat.

KING: He really likes you.

FOSTER: Yes. I really like him, too.

KING: And I had a wonderful time with him on this program. People were saying Russell Crowe. What do you make of that?

FOSTER: He's a -- you know, I think Russell, what do I know about Russell Crowe. He's terrifically talented, incredibly charming guy. But I think when he gets nervous he gets very serious. He gets very serious. But the truth is that he's a very light, funny guy. I always say he's like a little bit of leprechaun side to him.

KING: What's his talent? When an actor looks at another actor -- "A Beautiful Mind" did you like that movie?

FOSTER: Loved it.

KING: When you look at it, do you say as an actor now, that's Russell Crowe or that's Dr. Nash?

FOSTER: That's what's so wonderful is that he can really have that transformation where it's such a different character than he played in the "Insider" for example, or in "Gladiator." These are three entirely different people. That he is so committed to completely changing himself. However, there's one consistent thing that he can't get rid of it, it is just who he is. He has that absolutely glacier intensity. He is truly intense on screen.

KING: Is there an actor you have not worked with, you would love to work with?

FOSTER: There are many. Especially younger actors. People that are coming up.

KING: Who do you like?

FOSTER: Edward Norton. I love Edward Norton. I think he can do anything. He's just amazing to me on screen.

KING: He grew up in...

FOSTER: He went to Yale, too.

KING: He went to Yale. Had a lot of money.

FOSTER: What's amazing to me is how few films he's actually made. He just seems to get nominated and go out there and get nominated for every performance.

KING: You have worked with De Niro.

FOSTER: I have worked with De Niro.

KING: Early De Niro.

FOSTER: Lucky. Meryll Streep was somebody -- I know she's been around forever. She's somebody that I've looked up to since I was young. I just don't think they get better than that.

KING: What's her quality?

FOSTER: I just -- well, you know, other people would disagree or they would see something else in her but...

KING: What do you see?

FOSTER: I just see an absolutely beautiful inner warmth. You know? I -- that's what I see. I don't know. I just love her, I think she's great.

KING: You know where I especially saw that in "Defending Your Life."

FOSTER: I loved that movie. How about that , with the spaghetti?

KING: She was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in that movie. We'll be back with Jodie Foster. She stars in "Panic Room," it opens on the 29th. Don't go away.







KING: Jodie Foster and I have so many things in common.

FOSTER: We do.

KING: Well, we have the same birthday.

FOSTER: That's true.

KING: November 19th. We share it with Ted Turner.

FOSTER: Meg Ryan...

KING: Meg Ryan.

FOSTER: Raquel Welch.

KING: Raquel Welch, Dick Cavett.

FOSTER: Indira Ghandi. Didn't do too well for her.

KING: Didn't do too well for her.


KING: Don't want to go that route, right? You're going to be 40.


KING: How does that feel?

FOSTER: I think it's a good thing.

KING: My wife turned 40 and hated it. I don't know why. Hated being 40.

FOSTER: I'm loving it. I think it's a wonderful time in a woman's life. I feel better than I've ever felt. And I've accomplished some of the things that I always, I had all the question marks in my life I've kind of accomplished. And so now I can just really enjoy and be content with things that I have and that I do. I don't need to be -- you know, I already know that I'm never going to win at the Olympics. I am never going to be Miss America. So I can just let those things go.

KING: Yes. You chucked that?

FOSTER: You can let it go. As soon as you turn 40 and you're not a rock star, I think you can officially say you're never going to be one.

KING: What do you want to do that you haven't done?

FOSTER: I just want to continue directing. I think -- I feel that I have a lot to learn. And I'm a young director. And there's just so many things that I have to say...

KING: Why do you want all of that? The burden of a director is it's totally your baby?

FOSTER: Yes, and I love that. I love that. To me, it's a much less stressful position to be in, to be the leader and to be making the choices than it is to be falling around trying to please someone, which is much of what you do as an actor.

KING: And it is the director's medium, right?

FOSTER: It is. It should be the director's medium, sometimes it isn't, but it should be. I really believe that filmmakers, whether they write the movie or not are the true authors of the film. Yes.

KING: You directed Robert Downey Jr., didn't you?

FOSTER: I did. Lucky me.

KING: What do you -- he's a terrific actor.

FOSTER: He's a wonderful actor.

KING: What do you make of that kind of problem that everyone who knows him prays he licks?

FOSTER: I really don't know. I mean, except to say that there's Robert and then there's the disease. The disease I don't know very much about. But it must be separated from who he is, which is -- who is a wonderful, intensely funny, sweet, just gracious man.

KING: What was he like to work with?

FOSTER: He was absolutely spot on. He gave me everything that I could have ever hoped for for that character. And just so much compassion and passion, and he was there every single day and right on time and all that.

KING: Do you -- are you concerned about all the stories -- when they talk about addiction, they think Hollywood.

FOSTER: Yes. Addiction is certainly not just in the Hollywood playground. It is everywhere in the world. And...

KING: Have you ever been tempted?

FOSTER: You know we all have our personalities. I just have one of those personalities for whatever reason that --

KING: Doesn't?

FOSTER: -- isn't particularly tempted or addicted by anything. I like to -- I like to be on time in the morning. I just, you know, never had to -- I didn't have time to be hungover.

KING: A lot of people had to be saying, Jodie's boring.


KING: Hey, let's invite Jodie to the party, she'll stand around and just do nothing.


FOSTER: Exactly. Look at her watch and go home at 11:30.

KING: Have you been in love?

FOSTER: Oh, my God, what a question.

KING: No. It's a great feeling, there's no feeling like being a parent.


KING: But have you had the feeling of in love?

FOSTER: Of course I have.

KING: Do you miss that?

FOSTER: Oh, my God, I can't believe you'd ask me that question. That's just way too personal to answer.

KING: Do you miss it or not miss it?

FOSTER: I'm not going to answer Jodie.

KING: All right. Jodie don't have to answer.

FOSTER: That's right.

KING: Some people think that being in love is great, and some people think it's not so great, because it's has ups but downs are terrible. Some people would rather be in like.

FOSTER: This is a playground conversation.

KING: I know. But what is this, it's playing.

FOSTER: That's true.

KING: But at least to know that you felt that feeling?


KING: Do you bring your personal feelings to acting?

FOSTER: Yes. Acting is a tremendously personal thing. And I always say this, if you really want to know what I think about life and about things and my philosophy on things, you should just go rent my movies, because that's why I work so little in some ways is because I really have to feel passionate, and completely committed to a film in order to make one.

KING: When a movie you love, and get so involved in and doesn't do well. What does it do to you? "Anna and the King," I think. I thought it was terrific piece of film-making, with a great co-star. FOSTER: I did, too. But you know, we all know -- even the movies that I think are the most flawless that I've made; "Silence of the Lambs," "Taxi Driver," I mean they're all flawed. And some people like them and some people don't. I mean, sure, you get disappointed because you go out there putting your best foot forward.

But the good news is that I didn't direct that movie. It wasn't my movie, I just acted in it. It's a different thing when you're directing than when you're acting.

KING: The pain is greater when you direct?

FOSTER: Yes. Well, when you're directing, hopefully, this is what I believe, that film is about you. Every character in that film is you. Every piece of music comes from the heart and every prop is your design. It's about everything you believe in. You're responsible for it. You're the visionary of the film.

KING: Have you been critically rapped?


KING: Good critics?

FOSTER: Good critics really help you. Bad criticism is just infuriating. By bad criticism I mean...

KING: Critics who don't like movies?

FOSTER: Well, critics that want to talk about how much money everybody makes. And, you know, who shouldn't wear pink.

KING: Or what a film costs to make shouldn't mean nothing to a critic, right?

FOSTER: Right. And what -- the baggage you represent should really not be brought into a -- shouldn't really be brought into that process.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Jodie Foster. The new film is "Panic Room. " The two-time Oscar winner, always great having her with us. Don't go away.




KING: Jodie just said, "how do you do this every night?" And then she said, "you must be a strange person."


KING: I'm curious. FOSTER: Well, you keep all of these thoughts in your mind, and then they all end up being organized, but you don't particularly look at anything.

KING: No, they flow out. Well, I try to listen. You know, I appreciate people I ask questions of. I like interesting people. Even interesting boring people. Even people who don't sometimes want to answer questions. Some day, will you ever write a biography in which Jodie tells it all?

FOSTER: Absolutely not.

KING: Absolutely not. So we'll never know about certain things?

FOSTER: I don't know. You know, I don't know. I doubt it. It's just not -- who cares?

KING: Not you, right? Do you want any more children?

FOSTER: I don't really know. I'm not really sure. I'm not really sure. Right now, I got my hands full.

KING: "Maverick." Did you have fun making that movie with...

FOSTER: So much fun.

KING: With two incredible guys.

FOSTER: Yeah. That's the most fun I've ever had making a film.

KING: Gibson and Garner.

FOSTER: Yeah, and James Garner and Dick Donner. Donner, Garner.

KING: Jim Garner is one in a million.

FOSTER: Yeah, he is.

KING: One of the great people.

FOSTER: It was just a great pairing, all of us. So we really had a great time. And it's mostly Mel Gibson. You know, he really sets the tone on a film. And he works in a very similar way that I work.

KING: Which is?

FOSTER: Which is, if he does preparation, which I'm sure he does, he does it way before the film starts. And then when he shoots, he just enjoys himself and drinks a little coffee, talks with some people. If somebody says action, he does his part.

KING: And even all this attention, similar to like Dennis Quaid we were talking about, underrated.

FOSTER: Yeah. KING: When you think of great actors, you don't say Dennis Quaid, but you should.

FOSTER: You should.

KING: Mel Gibson is a great actor.

FOSTER: He is a great actor. And he can do anything. I mean, he's a fine comedian, of course, we all know that. But I was watching this clip the other day, "What Women Want," I mean, how about him dancing like Gene Kelly? That's the side of Mel that I love, that he's -- you know, does smokes cigars, and you know, he can go out there, he has a little foul language thing and he does have dirty jokes, but that guy can dance. I love that.

KING: What follows "Panic Room"? What's the name of that movie coming in June?

FOSTER: "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys."

KING: Serious?

FOSTER: No. Well, yes, serious.

KING: Serious title.

FOSTER: But it's a young person's movie. There's a lot of animation in the movie. There's about 10 minutes of animation.

KING: What part do you play?

FOSTER: I play a mean nun that has one leg.

KING: OK, how did they -- did they test you for this?

FOSTER: In the animation, my character is on a Harley...

KING: Oh, it's animated?

FOSTER: Well, part of it is, 10 minutes of it is. And in the animation, she's on a Harley and she does -- you know, she takes one of those incense burners and, you know, lops people's heads off. My kind of part.

KING: And you said I have a strange life? I have a strange life, but you're a one-legged nun. OK, OK. What are going to do after that? That's made already.

FOSTER: I don't know. I really don't know. I don't like to go from movie to movie. I like, you know, smelling the flowers.

KING: How many scripts you see a week?

FOSTER: It depends if I'm in one of those modes where I'm looking or not. But I read a lot.

KING: Are you in a not looking mode now?

FOSTER: I'm in a not looking mode now, but I read a lot.

KING: When you get a script...


KING: What's the first thing -- Russell Crowe said you know you're going to do it when you're halfway through and you start to say the lines.

FOSTER: Oh, that's interesting. I think you know when you read the whole thing without ever stopping. That's when you just can't put it down. That's one thing. But also, for me, it's the director. The director is equally as important as the script.

KING: And when you read it, you read it for the total story or what your character is doing?

FOSTER: For the total story. That's just me. Other people do it differently, but I read it for the total story. And then I start thinking, well, could I play that part.

KING: Have you ever turned down anything you regretted?

FOSTER: Yeah, probably. Probably. Very few things. Probably. Yeah. Just a couple.

KING: Like?

FOSTER: I'm not going to tell you. Well, the reason I wouldn't say is because somebody else played that part.

KING: Yeah, but what you usually say is, "I didn't take it and look how great they were?"

FOSTER: Yeah. Well, I could tell you the movies they didn't want me for, see, because then no, no -- "Agnes of God" was a movie I (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Now, wouldn't I be badly cast in "Agnes of God?"

KING: As the psychiatrist?

FOSTER: No, as the young -- it was a long time ago. As the young girl who doesn't know, you know, it really wasn't God who got her pregnant.

KING: Well, you get to be a nun now, though.

FOSTER: I get to be a nun anyway.

KING: So "Panic Room" opens March 29, and then we'll see -- I've been saying -- yeah, and this...

FOSTER: Yeah, March 29.

KING: March 29. I have the right date. I thought I was going to correct myself.

It's always great seeing you.

FOSTER: Good seeing you too.

KING: Happy November 19.

FOSTER: Thank you.

KING: And we'll do a birthday together.

FOSTER: Yeah, maybe.

KING: It would be nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Comedian Milton Berle, TV's first superstar, died today at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93. Berle appeared on LARRY KING LIVE in July of 1998, a few days after celebrating his 90th birthday. Larry asked him about "Texaco Star Theater," the show that turned him into everybody's Uncle Milty.


MILTON BERLE, ACTOR: On the show, the Texaco show, it was a live show. They got what they saw, they saw what they got. And if you made a blooper, you couldn't take it over. Like I'd stand in front of the camera and I'd say, you know -- couldn't think of the line. We didn't have cue cards or anything like that.



BERLE (singing): There's just one place for me, and that's near you. Take it from me, I work for free to be near you. And you can make my life worthwhile if I can give you just one smile. I love you all, and I love to be near you!





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