Jodie Foster Reveals Her Least Favorite Word: ‘Vulnerability’ Is Code for ‘Women’ and ‘Nice and Girly’

The actress also discusses supporting her family as the sole breadwinner and finally figuring out how connection with others works in an extensive interview with The Atlantic

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Jodie Foster has been in the public eye since she was in preschool. From childhood, she understood the weight placed on her as the youngest member of her family and the sole breadwinner; as an adult, she is still coming to terms with who she is as a person. “Vulnerability… my least favorite word! ‘Vulnerability’ is code for ‘women,’” she told The Atlantic in an interview published Sunday.

“And it’s code for what you’re supposed to bring to screen that’s nice and girly, that everybody wants you to be,” she continued.

She responded to reviews that have slammed her for an alleged lack of vulnerability. “Yeah, I know what that means.” For her, it means showing vulnerability that “just doesn’t look the way you’re used to seeing it.”

Foster told the outlet that for most of her career, she has intentionally guarded her private life. As a child, her career was managed by her mother, who often worried about money.

“I was it. There was no other income besides me,” she explained.

The actress also enjoyed the loneliness she felt as kid and added, “There’s a deliciousness to loneliness … 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.”

Taking on the role of Bonnie Stoll in the 2023 film “Nyad” was a deliberate choice Foster made to, in part, learn more about sustaining relationships in her own life.

“For somebody who is interested in privacy,” she said, “I am obsessed with being understood.”

Foster also spoke about her 2011 film “The Beaver.” Though the movie, which stars Mel Gibson as a man who begins to live through a beaver hand puppet after a failed attempt at death by suicide, didn’t do well at the box office, it was an important one for her. She spent the years prior depressed after her children grew up and left home, as well as her relationship ending.

“I thought I was meant to do great things,” she explained. “And what happens if I don’t do any more great things? Like, do I matter? And what am I supposed to do on Earth? What happens if I’m not great?”

For Foster, her “puppet” was a “persona.” As she put it, “And then you get to a certain point and you’re like, ‘This is killing me. This is killing me. I don’t know why it’s killing me now, but I can’t live one minute longer.’”

“And, you know, I have two terrible choices: I either live a life that I hate every single day of my life, or I die,” she continued. “That’s it. I only have two choices. But then there’s a choice in the middle, which is to change. You have the choice to change.”


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