Jodie Foster Opened Up About How She Made Sure Her Career Wasn’t Defined By An Attempted Presidential Assassination

When most people think of Jodie Foster, they think of Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs or Sarah Tobias in The Accused. They think about her role in Taxi Driver opposite Robert DeNiro. Maybe they think about Nell or Panic Room or, more recently, maybe they think about Jodie Foster’s career as a director. She’s won two Oscars, and most people consider her among the best actors of her (or any) generation.

Forty years after the event, however, and not that many people think about Jodie Foster’s unfortunate association with an assassination attempt that left President Ronald Reagan and three other people wounded, including James Brady of the “Brady Bill” fame, who died of his injuries 33 years after the event. For Jodie Foster, not associating her with that event was absolutely by design.

Foster rarely if ever discusses the incident. She has, in fact, canceled interviews in the past when she knew she’d be asked about it. That is why it was such a huge surprise to hear Jodie Foster speak to the incident on this week’s WTF with Marc Maron. It’s not as though she discussed the incident at length, but she did talk about the strategy she employed to ensure that the incident wouldn’t become a permanent stain on her life and career.

For those who are unfamiliar with the incident, well, that’s the point. Nevertheless, in 1981, a man named John W. Hinckley, Jr. developed an obsession with and began stalking Jodie Foster after seeing her in Taxi Driver. Hinckley, Jr. moved to New Haven, where Foster was attending college at Yale, and then in an effort to impress her, he tried to assassinate the President of the United States.

It was a “weird moment in my life” for Foster, she told Maron, who was impressed with Foster’s ability to transcend that event in her career.

“Yes, I mean, I skillfully transcended it,” Foster said. “My mom had been a publicist, and she was very clear that she tried to guide me to make sure that I wasn’t just going to be known as the person who was involved in the shooting of the President. She said, if you want to have a career that is not about this, so you are never going to talk about it. You’ll do whatever you need to do for the court case, and then that’s it. You won’t talk about it.”

“What I did,” Foster continued, “is I wrote a piece about it for Esquire magazine … and that was it. I had written what I had to write about it, I got it out, and there was nothing more to say about it.”

That was her policy, she says, although it took some enforcement. “I’m not sure you could enforce that these days because we have a different relationship with the press now.”

“It was a weird time in history. It was a weird time for me, personally. It was a weird time for the movie business. Strange,” she added.

In the end, however, Foster says that her ability to distance herself from the “Hinckley problem” was a “testament to her mom. She was able to find a good strategy to make sure that happened.”

Source: WTF with Marc Maron