Jodie Foster leaves it to ’The Beaver’ (and Mel Gibson)
"The Beaver", the third directorial effort by two-time Oscar-winning actor Jodie Foster went into limited release last weekend with some considerable offscreen baggage. The reason? Mel Gibson, who stars as a middle-aged businessman who recovers from a serious depression through the help of a hand puppet - a beaver who speaks in a Cockney accent a la Michael Caine. Foster co-stars in the film as his wife, who is skeptical of this kind of unusual therapy, but gives in when it revitalizes Gibson to return to work and his family; that is until the Beaver begins to take over their lives.
Whether or not Foster’s recent press trip promoting the film came as a result of her wanting to defray attention from the scandal-prone Gibson is mere conjecture. Whatever the reason, she was sharp, funny and personable at a recent round-table press conference, fielding questions about a film with ease and impressive intelligence. Off-screen she looks younger and more relaxed than she does on-screen in the film (which makes sense considering she plays a woman dealing with a husband who only communicates through the Beaver hand puppet he wears).
When the film was screened in March at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, Foster said that the film was one of the biggest struggles of her career. Not just from the difficulties of bringing the unusual script to the screen, but in bringing the film to market with its once A-List, now toxic star.
"There isn’t much I could do about Mel’s choices," she said." And those decisions about whether the film will be distributed and how it will be distributed are not my decisions to make. Honestly that the wonderful thing about being a director is that you actually get to ave this piece of film that says this is what I love, this what I believe in. That’s great - everything else is someone else’s problem."
She was, though, unequivocal in her faith in Gibson, whom she worked with on "Maverick" 17 years ago where they became close friends.
"On the set he is the most beloved actor I ever worked with. We have the perfect working style together.
"And," she continued, "he really gets it. And that’s what I’ve known about him - that he works in two different styles. He has wit and can be very light on his feet. He understands comedy. But his heart really understood this movie from the beginning - the struggles that this man is going through. And he always had his eye on that - his eye on the drama. And anytime it veered off into a more jaunty, comedic way, he kept bringing it back."
Story continued on following page.
Watch the trailer to "The Beaver:"