What Shocked Jodie Foster About The Scripts She Was Sent For Most of Her Career?

This post is by Jason Hellerman from No Film School

Jodie Foster is one of our most gifted actors (and directors). She burst onto the scene with Taxi Driver, and has continued to conquer some harrowing roles over the course of her career.

Recently, Foster sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for the Drama Actress roundtable, and she brought up that when she was being sent scripts, she was “always shocked” to see how many backstories for her characters included a rape.

Foster said, “For most of my career, I was always shocked that so many of the scripts that I read, the entire motivation for the female character was that she’d been traumatized by rape. That seemed to be the only motivation that male screenwriters could come up with for why women did things.”

Foster quipped, “‘She’s kind of in a bad mood, yeah, there’s definitely some rape in her past.’”

So why was this happening?

Foster thinks some of the male screenwriters who wrote these projects had trouble understanding a female character who was a victim or had issues. And to compensate, added rape in to show their vulnerability.

Foster explained, “Rape or molestation seemed to be the one kind of lurid, big emotional backstory that they could understand in women. And I didn’t take it personally. But once I was old enough, I think I did have a responsibility to come in and say, ‘You’re not always going to get the most perfectly fleshed-out female character, but maybe there’s an opportunity for us to work together and create something that way?’”

I think Foster brings up a good point – filmmaking is about collaboration. and more writers have to work with actors to figure out backstories, especially when it comes to characters who have experienced trauma.

We cannot rely on rape as a trope, it’s pretty horrific to think about a Hollywood where that was a popular idea, but to make things better today, we need to be open to working with each other to find the best solutions.

Let me know what you think in the comments.