Jodie Foster picked up a Golden Globe for her role in The Mauritanian(Picture: STX Entertainment/Moviestore/Rex)
Sitting in her Los Angeles living room, Jodie Foster is wearing a knitted black jumper with an animal on it.
Or at least I think it’s an animal. All I can make out are two triangle-shaped orange ears poking up at the bottom of the frame of our video chat. I love the jumper, I tell her.
‘Oh, you like it,’ she beams, stretching it out so I can see it in full. ‘It’s a fox!’
It’s almost as classy as the moment Foster accepted her Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her new film The Mauritanian when she sat on the sofa with her wife, actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison, and their white terrier cross-breed, Ziggy.
Either way, the 58-year-old star is rocking the Zoom thing.
Foster accepted her award with her wife Alexandra and dog Ziggy by her side (Picture: AP)
Right now, it’s a rarity to even see Foster in a new movie. Acting has largely taken a back seat for the double Oscar winner in the past decade. So has she missed it?
‘The thing that I miss the most, strangely, is just being on sets, hanging out with all the people and making a movie together,’ she says. ‘The acting, I’m happy to do less often and really only do it when it’s something that really feels meaningful to me, where I feel like I can make a major contribution.’
That’s why she took The Mauritanian, the new film from Britain’s Kevin Macdonald. It tells the harrowing true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), an electrical engineer held and repeatedly tortured in America’s Guantánamo Bay detainee camp for 14 years without charge.
Foster plays Nancy Hollander, the US lawyer who spends years fighting to get Slahi out of his nightmarish incarceration.
The Mauritanian follows Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s (Tahar Rahim) experience in Guantanamo Bay (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)
The liberal-leaning Foster has been outspoken on plenty of issues over the years, including gun control. So when it comes to Guantánamo, she’s predictably forthright.
‘Well, there is no way in the last administration that Guantánamo would ever be shut,’ she says. ‘There was no point [protesting].’
Now with Joe Biden in charge at the White House, Foster feels it’s time for action to be taken – and its existence is currently under review.
‘I really do hope Guantánamo is closed,’ she says. ‘It’s a symbol of Americans betraying their constitution by creating a lawless prison offshore that can escape the law of the land so they can do whatever they want to prisoners, the Geneva Convention be damned! It’s not right.’
Seeing Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian, entering a prison for the first time, you can’t help but think of her most famous role: Clarice Starling in The Silence Of The Lambs, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
The FBI rookie who confronts serial killer Hannibal Lecter – played by Anthony Hopkins – won Foster her second best actress Oscar.
It’s been 30 years since Foster famously played Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (Picture: Ken Regan/Orion/Kobal/Rex)
‘People have mentioned that,’ nods Foster when it comes to similarities.
‘I do think that there is the comparison of walking into that prison cell and not knowing… is he going to lunge after her? Is he a killer? Who’s this guy? And that’s natural to the sort of fish-out-of-water element to walking into a cell.’
So is Nancy like Clarice? ‘Maybe that’s who Clarice becomes 30 years later,’ she says.
The Mauritanian marks Foster’s 55th year on camera. She starred in her first commercial when she was three, before making films like Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone as a child.
‘I never thought I would be an actor when I grew up,’ she says. ‘My mom would say, are you going to be a lawyer or a doctor? It was never assumed I was going to be an actor. I’m always surprised I’m still doing the same job I did when I was three years old!’
Foster has two children of her own, Charlie, 22, and Kit, 19, with former partner Cydney Bernard.
‘They’re both in college now officially, as of the last few weeks,’ she chuckles. So I guess that means I’m an empty-nester for the first time.’
What’s the best advice she’s given her boys? She answers instantly: ‘I said, “The only thing I want you to remember is just do the right thing.”’
The Mauritanian is available on Amazon Prime Video from April 1.