US film actress and director who has made the transition from sophisticated child star to Oscar-winning lead.
Born in Los Angeles, Jodie Foster began acting at an early age, appearing in TV programmes and commercials. She made her film debut in Disney's Napoleon and Samantha (1972) and took parts in other family films, including Tom Sawyer (1973). Foster's screen persona then underwent a dramatic change. Leaving the wholesome family roles behind, she played an alcoholic streetwise urchin in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975) and, at the age of fourteen, a drug-using child prostitute in the same director's controversial tale of urban alienation, Taxi Driver (1976). The part of provocative gangster's moll Tallulah in Bugsy Malone (1976) was followed by her chilling portrayal of a juvenile murderess in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1977).
Leaving film work to concentrate on her studies at Yale, Foster graduated with a BA degree in literature before returning to Hollywood in the mid-1980s. In The Accused (1988) she won an Oscar for best actress for her harrowing performance as a rape victim who pursues her attackers through the courts. She received a second Oscar for her intelligent portrayal of a young FBI agent opposite Anthony Hopkins's serial murderer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Foster made her debut as a director with Little Man Tate (1991), in which she played the mother of a child prodigy; she also directed Home for the Holidays (1996). Other recent films include Sommersby (1993), Nell (1995), for which she received a further Oscar nomination, and the science-fiction drama Contact (1997).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).