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Foster, Jodie (b. 1962)  
 
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As a child actress, Foster's tomboyish demeanor and smart mouth endeared her to young girls, while directors nicknamed her "B.L.T."--bossy little thing-- because, from an early age, she was not shy about making suggestions if she thought something was not being done correctly on the set.

She was always clear about what she would and would not do in movies, and film professionals came to respect her even as a teenager. Her practical attitude towards film-making made her easy to work with, and her intelligence and dedication delighted directors. Her choice of strong female roles and her feminist beliefs as an adult enhanced her reputation for intelligence and political awareness, and have helped make her an icon in the gay community.

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Yale Years

Despite a hectic acting career, Foster attended Lycée Français de Los Angeles, a demanding French-immersion prep school. She graduated in 1980 as valedictorian, and shocked the industry when she revealed that she intended to cut back on her career in order to attend Yale University to major in English literature. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 1985.

While at Yale, Foster appeared in Tony Richardson's The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) and made several other appearances in films, including The Blood of Others (1984) directed by Claude Chabrol. In this film, she was the first American actress since Jane Fonda to dub her own part in French. She continues to dub her roles in the French-language versions of her films.

In 1981, while Foster was happily studying at Yale, a mentally disturbed man, John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., who was obsessed with Foster, attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress her. He had tracked Foster down at Yale, sent her letters, and even managed to reach her on the telephone.

Following the assassination attempt, Foster found herself in the middle of a media frenzy, fielding questions from people who wanted to know everything about her private life. In 1982, Foster submitted a video-taped testimony at Hinckley's trial in which she stated, "I don't have any relationship with John Hinckley."

The incident frightened Foster badly, especially when another mentally disturbed man managed to appear in the audience at a play in which Foster was performing at Yale. Both stalkers had threatened to kill Foster, and she became fiercely protective of her privacy. To this day, she refuses to appear in interviews if she knows Hinckley is going to be mentioned. Her courage throughout the Hinckley ordeal further endeared her to the American public.

Adult Actor, Director, Producer

Foster was able to make a successful transition from child actor to adult actor, but not without some stumbles. After appearing in some financially unsuccessful movies, she was forced to audition for what proved to be her breakthrough role as an adult in Jonathan Kaplan's The Accused (1988).

In this movie, she plays a working-class woman who is gang-raped by several bar patrons while others cheer them on. With the help of an attorney played by Kelly McGillis, Foster's character successfully prosecutes the bystanders. Her critically-acclaimed performance earned Foster her first Academy Award for Best Actress and her first Golden Globe Award.

In 1992, Foster again won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of an FBI agent who seeks help from a serial killer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), to find another serial killer in Jonathan Demme's suspenseful The Silence of the Lambs. The film caused an uproar in the gay community because the serial killer Buffalo Bill was portrayed as a homosexual pervert. Gay militants picketed the Oscars and demanded that Foster come out of the closet.

In 1992 Foster founded Egg Pictures, a production company dedicated to producing independent films. The two-time Oscar winner had become an influential force in Hollywood, and she turned her attention to directing and producing. Her first directorial efforts, aside from some episodic television, were the critically acclaimed drama Little Man Tate (1991), in which she starred as the mother of a child prodigy, and the black comedy Home for the Holidays (1995) about an eccentric family featuring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. in a large and distinguished cast.

Among the films that Foster has produced are Michael Apted's Nell (1994), in which she earned an Academy Award nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of a young woman who has been raised by her mother in an isolated cabin; Home for the Holidays (1995); Peter Care's The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002), in which she plays a nun; and Neil Jordan's The Brave One (2007), in which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her depiction of a vigilante.

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