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Jodie Foster Says She Felt Pressure as a Child Star to Be the Breadwinner of Her Family

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET / AFP / Getty Images
Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET / AFP / Getty Images

Jodie Foster has always had a natural talent for the big screen. Starting her career at an early age helped set her up for success later in her career, but it also had a negative impact on her young life. Being famous took parts of her childhood away from her and forced her into being the sole provider for her family, a burden no child should have to bear.

Being a child star was hard on Foster

Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro in 'Taxi Driver'.
American actors Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro sit together at a diner in a still from the film Taxi Driver (1976). (Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures / Fotos International / Getty Images)

Jodie Foster became a star very early on in her life. At just three years old, she landed a gig in a Coppertone commercial, which marked the beginning of her role as the primary breadwinner in her family. “I was it. There was no other income besides me,” Foster said. Her mother, Brandy, also acted as her manager and often stressed about the family’s finances.

As Foster developed as an actress, she carried herself with a maturity beyond her years, both on- and off-screen. In 1976, at just 14 years old, Foster starred in Taxi Driver as a teen sex worker, a role that earned her her first Oscar nomination. However, Foster was still just a child and wanted to experience childhood without being under the microscope of fame.

Unfortunately, privacy was not something that Foster would be able to indulge in, especially when she was followed by a documentary crew when she was just 13 years old. Despite not wanting to allow the documentary crew to film her life, she felt she couldn’t turn it down as it might let her family down. Nonetheless, when they wanted to follow her to Disneyland – the one place she wanted to be a true kid with no one paying any mind to her – she broke down and told her mother.

Live sets provided her privacy from her mother

Jodie Foster hugging her seated mother from behind.
Actress Jodie Foster and her mother, Evelyn “Brandy” Foster, pose during the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment breakfast honoring Jodie Foster held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 4, 2007, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Brandy was a big part of Foster’s life, who acted as both a parent and a manager to her. However, she admitted that she felt dominated by her mother and even sought privacy from her as well. She explained that it was actually acting that provided her with the feeling of privacy. This was because her mother couldn’t join her on set, having to stay behind in her trailer, so Foster was on her own.

“She couldn’t get inside my body and take that experience from me,” Foster explained. “She could take a whole bunch of experiences from me, but she couldn’t take one.” She went on to explain her experience in more detail. “There’s a deliciousness to loneliness,” she continued. “There is nothing like the loneliness of lying in a pool of fake blood at three in the morning in Prospect Park with 175 people around you moving things and whatever — and knowing they will never understand what you’re going through.”

Brandy served as Foster’s manager for years, all the way until the actress was in her twenties. She shared a unique relationship with her mother, pursuing a college education despite her mother’s warnings, but the pair continued to love and care for one another throughout the years. In 2019, Brandy passed away at the age of 90, and Foster, along with her siblings, shared a touching statement honoring their late mother.

She’s trying to help guide young actresses

Headshot of Jodie Foster.
Jodie Foster attends the “ALOK” Premiere at the Short Film Program 1 during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival at Prospector Square Theatre on January 18, 2024, in Park City, Utah. (Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images)

Now in her sixties, Foster admits that she feels a touch protective over the younger generation of actresses, willing to offer her own “almost entirely maternal advice.” She explained, “I find myself reaching out to girls who could be my daughters and saying, ‘Wait a minute, you keep doing dumb things on publicity tours. What’s going on with you? This is a little self-sabotage. You know better than that. Who’s letting you do that? And where’s your mom?’”

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So, despite her sometimes difficult relationship with her mother, Foster still appreciates having had her mother around. “I do have this really big soft spot for the young actresses who came up as young people, because I just don’t know how they survive without some mother around the way I had a mom around,” she said.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!