Jodie Foster Talks About Her Fear of Failure and Life After Acting

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The enigmatic actress-turned-director chatted about what really drives her in a new intimate interview.

Jodie Foster was an Oscar nominee at 15 and a two-time Oscar winner at 29, so it’s safe to say she achieved more than most actresses dream at an early age. Now, at 53 Foster is stepping behind the camera to direct Money Monster, a thriller starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Although this isn’t her first outing as a director, the film’s themes on failure and devastating loss are a big part of her creative process.

“Failure is a big one for me — people in spiritual crisis, in a moment in life of total self-hatred,” she told the New York Times. “…If Mother Teresa is propelled to do good works because she believes in God, I am propelled to do good works because of how bad I feel about myself. It’s the first place I go. ‘Oh, what did I do wrong?’”

Money Monster is about a desperate man who takes a cheesy TV host hostage in an attempt to get retribution, critiquing America’s financial system and it’s evangelists. But Foster also wanted the film to focus on the turmoil within the TV host, played by Clooney.

“He’s just a TV guy, but he’s imbued with this sense of power,” she explained, offering that he’s forced to ask himself some troubling questions throughout the story, questions she also faces: “Am I real? Am I a sellout? Is all this real?”

Foster also spoke briefly about her awkward, rambling Golden Globes speech in 2013 in which she might or might not have come out of the closet. It turns out the entire thing was carefully written, and even on a teleprompter for her. “I didn’t want to get it wrong,” she said.

The question is what was she attempting to tell everyone? The multi-hyphenate refused to clarify herself, instead choosing to enjoy the ambiguity. “Everything I have to say on that subject, I said that night,” she said. “I can be vague. Vague is moving to me.”

Now, working as a filmmaker, Foster is confronted with losing an enormous part of her identity: the life of an actress. But she approaches that transition with the same fearless grace that made her a household name as a child.

“Maybe I’ll lose my identity,” she said. “But I guess I need to find out, and I’m willing to take that chance.”