AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Most people look forward to their 60s and 70s as retirement years, but Jodie Foster expects to be acting during that time of her life in something of a career rebirth.
The actress, who began her career as a child, sees her new film drama “The Beaver,” which she directed, land in theaters on Friday, and she told Reuters that for the next decade, she will likely focus on directing more than acting because she finds that the parts she gets offered in middle-age just aren’t too interesting.
“I think I’m looking more forward to the stuff I’ll play in my 60s and 70s,” Foster, 48, said in March at the South by Southwest festival in Austin where “The Beaver” premiered.
The Oscar-winning actress also finds herself in roles that require her to be heavily involved in promotion “on the cover of a magazine...which I’m not that interested in.”
She would rather be behind the camera right now, exploring topics in films that have an edge or themes that may be complex, much like “The Beaver.”
“These are really the years for me to direct,” she said.
Foster’s third and latest foray into film directing is her first time behind the camera since 1995’s “Home for the Holidays.” Her other directing effort was 1991’s “Little Man Tate.” Both movies were well-received, if not universally liked, and so far “The Beaver” has won mostly good, early reviews coming out of South by Southwest.
The Hollywood Reporter called it “a risky bet that pays off solidly,” and said it “survives its life/art parallels to deliver a hopeful portrait of mental illness that while quirky is serious and sensitive.”
Mel Gibson, whose personal problems have been widely reported for more than a year, portrays a middle-aged father and husband named Walter Black who is spiraling downward into depression. To cope with his illness, Black begins to communicate with others by using a beaver hand puppet.
The film is punctuated by humorous moments early on, but the persona of the beaver puppet eventually takes over Black’s life in a disturbing way and forces him to battle his demons. Foster portrays Black’s wife, and Anton Yelchin is their son.
“Symbolically it really is the story of my life (and) spiritual crises in life where you feel like you’re asleep and that you have a choice — two terrible choices — either a life sentence or a death sentence,” Foster said.
The release of “The Beaver” in May comes after months of delays amid Gibson’s real-life troubles. Last year, Gibson’s A-list career seemed to be on the mend from his drunken, anti-Semitic tirade in 2006, when a series of audiotapes were leaked in which Gibson was heard making a racial slur and sexist comments to his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva.
In March, after nearly a year of tabloid reports about his and Grigorieva’s troubled relationship and bitter custody battle over their daughter, Gibson pleaded no contest to one count of domestic abuse linked to Grigorieva.
Foster has repeatedly stood by Gibson, 55, a man she describes as one of the most beloved actors among his peers and a friend whom she talks with for hours by phone.
“He’s miraculous in the film, and I think that he brought so much to it, not just because of his talent but also his incredibly sensitive soul,” she said.
Grae Drake, a film critic for Movies.com, said she doubts “The Beaver” could be Gibson’s comeback role because it is not a major Hollywood studio movie with a massive promotional campaign, such as those behind his “Lethal Weapon” movies.
In fact, “The Beaver” will more likely been seen in smaller venues, given its dramatic subject matter, and Drake even said that Gibson’s presence may help boost ticket sales in the low-budget film arena.
She said surveys by Movies.com already seem to show that audiences are moving past Gibson’s personal problems.
“The public has a short memory, and they’re really pretty forgiving,” Drake said.
For her part, Foster is finishing up an acting role in director Roman Polanski’s “Carnage,” and says that she is again looking for something to get her back behind the camera. Her key problem, she says, is the types of movies that she wants to make are personal films that are difficult to finance.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte