Jodie Foster gets better with age in Hotel Artemis
Jodie Foster on playing role of older woman in crime film Hotel Artemis
Jodie Foster has no qualms ageing on the big screen - even when it is not exactly flattering.
The Oscar-winning 55-year-old US actress plays a mysterious character called The Nurse in the new futuristic noir-ish crime film Hotel Artemis, which opens in Singapore tomorrow.
It is set in 2028 Los Angeles, and she presides over a derelict hotel which hides a state-of-the-art hospital on the penthouse level that is available only to dues-paying criminals.
The star-studded cast includes Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto, Sofia Boutella and Dave Bautista.
On why she took on the role of an older woman, healing others while self-medicating to numb her personal demons, she said in our interview at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills: "It's fun to feel free enough to play a little grey-haired lady.
"She has rules and enforces them, but she also has panic attacks and hasn't been outside in years. She's a prisoner of her own grief."
The physical transformation took some work, and cast members were joking that Foster had not aged very well.
She said with a laugh: "I love the idea of surprising them and I want to go as far as possible in that direction without it feeling like a gimmick.
"I didn't want people to feel distracted by it, that kind of awful, old age make-up, where everybody is looking at the seams.
"It's the whole picture. It's the walk, it's the fat pad, it's the yellow teeth and it's the grey wig. The whole thing contributes to creating a brand new character that I think nobody has seen before."
She did not have a problem with looking old as she has no hang-ups about holding on to youth.
She said: "I feel no pressure about that. I think it's just not my personality. I take my job very seriously and I love my job, but it's my job and it's not me. As an actor, so much of what you do is judged by your physicality.
"To be a well-adjusted person, you have to come to terms with that psychologically, saying I will not be an object and I will not conform to your ideas of what beauty is. I was always interested in playing characters searching for meaning and living through difficult things."
ATTRACTED TO SCRIPT
Foster, who last acted in 2013's Elysium, was also attracted to the Hotel Artemis script because she is tired of the mainstream franchise films.
"There's something so beautiful about the combination of this almost nostalgic, retro, vintage universe mixed with this science-fiction horror kick-ass young film with a lot of energy," she said.
She admitted she found the script "mysteriously" and called the film-makers before they circulated it.
"I am so picky, it takes me years to find something that I am really interested in, and then when I do, I know that's something I want to immediately do. I had to fight for that transformation to not feel like a character I had played before.
"To have that change in physicality and honour the life that she lived, which is drinking and drugs and losing a child and being stuck in a kind of weird, gilded prison for the last 20 years and never gone outside. To just feel the hard knocks of that life," she said.
Foster is a native Angeleno who grew up in Hollywood, not very common in the industry, and has deep ties to the city.
The movie star life in Los Angeles can be isolating but her family - she married her partner Alexandra Hedison in 2014 and has two sons aged 20 and 17 from a previous relationship - saves her from that.
She said: "It's easy to be isolated if you are an introvert and a celebrity. But having children always changes your life."
Foster has not given up on her directing career (she last helmed 2016's Money Monster), and said she will not stop acting.
"I directed my first movie when I was 27 and I have made only four movies since then. I wanted to shift that balance about six or seven years ago and focus on my directing and make a commitment to that, or else it wouldn't happen. And so I did that.
"But I am also really looking forward to acting in my 80s. Because it's something you can really do, act in your 70s and 80s.
"And it may not be on billboards, but I think there is really unusual and interesting work to be done as you get older."