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Jodie Foster Q&A: 'I've had a weird career'

Jodie Foster just turned 50, but she’s already getting a lifetime achievement award. At Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), the former child actor, two-time Oscar winner, director and producer will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Foster spoke with film critic Rick Warner about her eclectic career, motherhood, Mel Gibson, Justin Bieber and asteroids.

Q: You’re awfully young to get a lifetime achievement award. Aren’t they usually given to doddering old men?
A: It definitely makes me want to go buy a walker. In some ways, it’s just about sheer endurance. I’ve been working steadily since the 1960s. I’m an oddity.

Q: Most child actors burn out early. How have you kept going?
A: I burn out periodically. Maybe I’ve lasted because I’ve had a weird career, doing so many different things. Directing allowed me to look at film in a different way, but I can’t imagine giving up acting because it’s a side of me that doesn’t get articulated in any other way. It’s all about self-discovery and trying things you’re scared of.

Q: You’ve always been a very private person. Is that getting harder in the Twitter age?
A: Not really because I’m pretty boring. That seems to work for me. I know this may surprise you, but I’m not as sought-after as Justin Bieber.

Q: You recently finished shooting "Elysium," a sci-fi thriller co-starring Matt Damon that’s set in the year 2159. So what’s the future like?
A: It’s a film about class and the growing inequities on our planet between rich and poor, the healthy and the unhealthy, those with opportunities and those without them.  As time goes on, things become more polarized. A luxurious space station is constructed for those who have means and can afford to leave the rotting Earth. I play a political leader who tries to keep immigrants away from the new habitat.

Q: You defended Mel Gibson when he was accused of some outrageous behavior. Any regrets?
A: I don’t know if defend is the right word. I just said he’s an amazing actor and an incredibly loyal, kind and generous friend.

Q: You appeared in your first TV commercial, for Coppertone, when you were 3, and acted throughout your childhood. Do you have many memories of those times?
A: Tons. I have memories of growing up on sets and going to all these amazing places. Like going to national parks in Utah and riding on a horse in a petticoat. Or going spelunking at Meramec Caverns in Missouri. I can’t imagine a kid from California having those adventures any other way.

Q: You went topless in that Coppertone commercial, didn’t you?
A: I didn’t want to wear a top because when I went to the beach, I never wore a top. Just bottoms. I remember my mom tried to talk to me about it, but she finally said, "Fine, don’t wear a top."

Q: Not many actors have an asteroid named after them. How did that happen?
A: I’m not sure, but I guess it had something to do with this (outer space) movie I did called "Contact." There are a lot of crazy astronomers out there and they loved that movie.

Q: You’re raising two boys as a single mom. Is that harder than acting and directing?
A: The biggest challenge of raising kids is your anxiety: Will they go to college, what will they do, will they be loved? But really, it’s a lot of fun. When I was younger, I didn’t realize what a creative experience being a parent is. It makes you look at the world differently.

Q: The Golden Globes dinner is infamous for being a rowdy affair. Will you remain dignified?
A: Well, my kids are coming with me, so we’ll see.  They went last year and there was some kind of chocolate party that Godiva threw, so they were all over that.

Q: When you’re not making movies, what’s your favorite activity?
A: My two passions in life are movies and skiing.  I’m a real diehard skier. I’m there first thing in the morning when the lifts open and I’ll ski until I have to go to the airport. I’ll even change in the car.

"Elysium" is scheduled to be released in August.

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