Jodie Foster was born Alicia Christian Foster on November 19, 1962 in Los Angeles. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond), a producer, and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth. Her older siblings nicknamed her "Jodie", a name she has used in her profession. She started her career at the age of two and made commercials for four years before making her debut as an actress in the TV series Mayberry R.F.D. (1968), on which her brother, Buddy Foster, was a regular. She stayed very busy as a child actress, working on television programs such as The Doris Day Show (1968), Adam-12 (1968), The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969), The Partridge Family (1970), Bonanza (1959), and Gunsmoke (1955). In movies, her roles included playing Raquel Welch's daughter in Kansas City Bomber (1972) and a tomboyish delinquent in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974).
Jodie first drew attention from critics with her appearance in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, where she played a prostitute at the tender age of 12 (she was 13 when the movie premiered) and received her first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She went on to have a very successful career in her early teens with leading roles in the Disney films Freaky Friday (1976) with Barbara Harris and Candleshoe (1977) opposite veteran film legends David Niven and Helen Hayes. The last film she made during this era was the coming-of-age drama Foxes (1980), before enrolling at Yale University. During her freshman year at Yale, she was attached to a worldwide scandal when a crazed and obsessed fan named John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan to impress her.
Jodie graduated from Yale in 1985 with a degree in literature. She resumed her acting career and sought a breakthrough role that would return her to stardom. After appearing in a few obscure movies with limited release, Jodie landed an audition for The Accused (1988) and was cast in the part of Sarah Tobias, a waitress who is gang-raped in a bar during a night of partying and teams up with a lawyer played by Kelly McGillis to prosecute the attackers. This performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress, but despite the Oscar win, Jodie still hadn't re-established herself as a bankable star. Her next film, Catchfire (1990), went straight to video, and she had to campaign hard to get her next good role. In 1991, she starred as Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee assisting in a hunt for a serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) with Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, and Brooke Smith. The film was a blockbuster hit, winning Jodie her second Academy Award for Best Actress and establishing her as an international movie star. With the wealth and fame to do anything she wanted, Jodie started directing. She made her directorial debut with Little Man Tate (1991), which was followed by Home for the Holidays (1995). These films were critically acclaimed but did not do well at the box office, and she proved to be a far more successful actress than she was a director.
1994 was a huge triumph for her acting career. She first played a sexy con artist in the successful western comedy Maverick (1994) with Mel Gibson and James Garner. Then, she played title role in Nell (1994), co-starring Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. For her compelling performance as a wild, backwoods hermit who speaks an invented language and must return to civilization, Jodie was nominated for another Academy Award and won a Screen Actors Guild Award as Best Actress.
Although she was working far less frequently as an adult than she did as a child, the films she turned out were commercially successful and critically acclaimed. Her next big screen role was in the science fiction drama Contact (1997) opposite Matthew McConaughey. She played a scientist who receives signals from space aliens. The film was a huge hit and brought her a Golden Globe nomination. She starred in the non-musical remake of The King and I (1956) entitled Anna and the King (1999), which was only modestly received in the U.S. but was very successful overseas. Three years after that she headlined the thriller Panic Room (2002), which co-starred Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, and Jared Leto. The film was a smash box-office hit and gave Jodie a $30 million opening weekend, the biggest of her career yet. She then appeared in two low-profile projects: the independent film The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and the foreign film A Very Long Engagement (2004). She returned to making Hollywood mainstream films, first with Flightplan (2005), in which she played a woman whose daughter disappears on an airplane that she designed. Once again Jodie proved herself to be a box-office draw, and the film was a worldwide hit.
The following year, she starred in another hit, the bank heist thriller Inside Man (2006) with Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. Jodie was on a roll. Her next film was the revenge thriller The Brave One (2007), which once again opened at #1 at the box office and earned her another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Following this succession of thrillers that all had her playing tough women, Jodie returned to the comedy genre in Nim's Island (2008) with Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin. She reunited with Mel Gibson in the comedy film The Beaver (2011).View Full Bio