BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Receiving the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award during the Golden Globes telecast is usually a time for some benignly pleasant remarks. Jodie Foster, however, used the platform Sunday night to publicly address her sexuality and private life.
Introduced by Robert Downey Jr., who captured the freewheeling, slightly needling spirit one might more typically expect, Foster declared what “feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else.” The actor-director seized the moment for an obliquely playful, complex and emotional speech in the middle of an evening otherwise reserved for glitzy Hollywood puffery.
In her spellbinding remarks that clocked in at more than 6½ minutes, Foster began by jokingly referring to a “Saturday Night Live” character, proclaiming “I’m 50!” “I’m 50! “I’m 50!” before mentioning how she felt like the “prom queen” in the room that night.
Then the speech took a surprising turn, “I just have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist,” Foster said. “But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this.
“I am single,” she continued. “Yes, I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding. But I mean I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding.”
Speaking of her lifelong place in the public eye, some 47 years in show business, she noted that privacy is the thing she values above all else, which is why she has never before addressed the issue of her sexuality.
“Now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show,” she said.
Foster never actually used the words “lesbian” or “gay,” but she said she did her “coming out” about “a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age” to family, friends and those she worked with. She then paid tribute to Cydney Bernard, whom she called, “one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life… Thank you Cyd, I am so proud of our modern family,” including their two sons, Charlie and Kit.
As if that wasn’t enough news for one speech, Foster seemed to announce her retirement, though she pulled back from that idea later backstage, when she continued her remarks with, “I may never be up on this stage again, on any stage, for that matter. Change, you gotta love it.
“I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved, the greatest job in the world,” she added. “It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won’t be as sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall.”
Concluding her speech, she added, “Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.”
Foster’s speech left those in the room surprised, simply because no one would have expected such a public announcement from the intensely private star. “I have more questions than answers,” said Aaron Sorkin. “Did she just retire?”
After the speech, Downey said, “No one ever wants to admit whether they are transitioning into anything else or letting go of something, whatever it may be, but Jodie is so classy that she would share that.”
Backstage after the speech, Foster was asked what she most hoped to get across. “That people change. That change is important,” she said. She noted that her award “feels like a graduation. I feel like I’m graduating from something. It’s a big moment, and I wanted to say what most was in my heart.”
As to whether she was concerned at all that the speech’s rather indirect nature would be misinterpreted, she said, “No, not really. It stands for itself. It’s an expression of who I am and what I’m thinking and feeling.”
-Los Angeles Times