American actress, producer, and director. A precocious child star, she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress at the age of 14, and won two Oscars as Best Actress before she turned 30.
Foster was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the youngest of four children born to Evelyn Ella and Lucius Fisher Foster II. Her father, a decorated U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel turned real estate broker, came from a wealthy background and left his wife before Jodie was born. Evelyn supported Jodie by working as a film producer. Her mother recalls Jodie speaking in complete sentences at the age of one and teaching herself to read two years later. Foster's career began by chance when her mother, lacking a sitter, brought the three-year-old as a tag-along to an appointment at which Jodie's older brother Buddy was scheduled to audition. Cast instead of her brother in an advertising campaign for suntan lotion, she subsequently appeared in dozens of other commercials.
Jodie has an older brother, Buddy, and two older sisters, Lucinda and Constance.After appearing as a child in several commercials, Foster made her first credited TV appearance on The Doris Day Show. Her first film role was in the 1970 television movie Menace on the Mountain, which was followed by several Disney productions.
Foster attended a French-language prep school, the Lycée Français de Los Angeles, and graduated in 1980, as the valedictorian. She frequently stayed and worked in France as a teenager, and still speaks the language fluently.
She attended Yale University, and was a member of Calhoun College and Manuscript Society. She graduated magna cum laude, earning a bachelor's degree in literature in 1985. She was scheduled to graduate in 1984, but the shooting of then-President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr., in which Hinckley's fascination with Foster created unwanted adverse publicity for her, caused her to take a semester's leave of absence from Yale. She later gave the Class Day speech at her alma mater in 1993, and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the university in 1997.
Foster made her television acting debut at the age of six and starred in the short-lived series Paper Moon (1974). Her first big-screen role came in Disney's Napoleon and Samantha (1972); in 1973 she played Becky Thatcher in a musical remake of Tom Sawyer. Two years later, in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, she was the drinking, shoplifting daughter of a prostitute. In Taxi Driver (1976), also directed by Scorsese, Foster herself played a child prostitute, the role for which she received her first Academy Award nomination. Subsequent films alternated Disney-cute parts with tough-girl performances; notable among the latter was The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1977), which starred Foster as an orphan who kills to protect herself.
Actress: (films) Napoleon and Samantha, 1972, Kansas City Bomber, 1972, One Little Indian, 1973, Tom Sawyer, 1973, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1974, Taxi Driver, 1976 (Academy award nominee for Best Supporting Actress), Echoes of a Summer, 1976, Bugsy Malone, 1976, Freaky Friday, 1976, Moi, Fleur Bleue, 1977, Casotto, 1977, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, 1977, Candleshoe, 1977, Foxes, 1980, Carny, 1980, O'Hara's Wife, 1982, The Hotel New Hampshire, 1984, The Blood of Others, 1984, Five Corners, 1987, Siesta, 1987, Stealing Home, 1988, The Accused, 1988 (Academy award for Best Actress, 1989, Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress, 1989), Backtrack, 1989, The Silence of the Lambs, 1991 (Golden Globe award for Best Actress in Drama, 1992, Academy award for Best Actress, 1992, BAFTA award for Best Actress, 1992), Shadows and Fog, 1992, Sommersby, 1993, Maverick, 1994, Contact, 1997, Anna and The King, 1999, Panic Room, 2002, A Very Long Engagement, 2004, Flightplan, 2005, Inside Man, 2006, The Brave One, 2007, Nim's Island, 2008; (TV movies) Menace on the Mountain, 1970, My Sister Hank, 1972, Alexander, 1973, Rookie of the Year, 1973, Smile, Jenny, You're Dead, 1974, The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing, 1975, Svengali, 1983; (TV appearances) The Doris Day show, 1969, Julia, 1969, Mayberry, R.F.D, 1969, Gunsmoke, 1969, '71, '72, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, 1969, '70, '71, Disneyland, 1970, Nanny and the Professor, 1970, Daniel Boone, 1970, Adam-12, 1970, My Three Sons, 1971 The Paul Lunde Show, 1972, Ghost Story, 1972, Ironside, 1972, Bonanza, 1972, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, 1972, The Partridge Family, 1973, Kung Fu, 1973, The addams Family, 1973, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1973, The New Perry Mason, 1973, Love Story, 1973, Paper Moon, 1974, Medical Center, 1975, Frasier, 1996, The X-Files, 1997; actress, director (films) Little Man Tate, 1991; actress, producer (films) Mesmerized, 1986, Nell, 1994 (Academy award nominee for Best Actress 1995), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, 2002, The Brave One, 2007; director, producer (films) Home For the Holidays, 1995; director (TV episode) Tales from the Darkside, 1988; executive producer (TV movies) The Baby Dance, 1998; (films) Waking the Dead, 2000.
Foster firmly established her credentials as one of Hollywood's top screen stars with The Accused (1988), earning her first Academy Award as Best Actress for her portrayal of rape victim Sarah Tobias. Three years later she won again for The Silence of the Lambs, playing Clarice Starling, an FBI agent who tracks down a serial killer. Following two more traditionally glamorous roles, in Sommersby (1993) and Maverick (1994), she gained a Best Actress nomination for Nell (1994), portraying an isolated Appalachian woman who speaks her own language.
Foster's first feature as director was Little Man Tate (1991), a critically well-received film about a child prodigy in which she also starred as the boy's mother. In 1995 she again took the director's chair for Home for the Holidays, produced, like Nell, by her company Egg Pictures.