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Jodie Foster Reflects on Her Storied Career and Teases ‘True Detective: Night Country’

Plus, everything you need to know about 2024’s female-led 'True Detective' on HBO/Max

On the heels of nabbing Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award nominations for starring opposite Annette Benning in Nyad, Jodie Foster returns to TV with True Detective: Night Country on January 14. The Oscar and Golden Globe winner who’s spent her life entertaining us talks about taking the lead in HBO’s crime anthology series and how she feels about being 60 in Hollywood.

Plus, True Detective: Night Country showrunner Issa López helps Foster tease what to expect from the fourth installment — which takes place in the dark, harsh winter of Alaska.

Jodie Foster says she’s happier than ever at 61

Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, True Detective: Night Country, 2024
Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, True Detective: Night Country, 2024Michele K. Short/HBO

Having taken the lead in True Detective alongside world champion boxer-turned-actress Kali Reis, Jodi Foster is not exactly complaining about the lack of roles out there for women over a certain age. In fact, she’s loving the business she’s been in since appearing in a Coppertone commercial as a toddler.

“I’ve worked for 58 years in the film business,” Foster marvels to FIRST for Women. “It’s been a long, fantastic adventure. And I’m really surprised that at 60, I think I’m happier than I’ve ever been. [It’s] something about recognizing that it isn’t my time — that it’s someone else’s time.”

Foster, who turned 61 in November, broke into TV in 1968 via Mayberry R.F.D. and by the time she landed her first Oscar nomination for Taxi Driver in 1976, the 13-year-old had already built quite a resume. After a spate of teen flicks like Freaky Friday and four years at Yale University, Foster won Best Actress Academy Awards for The Accused in 1989 and The Silence of the Lambs in 1992. There was also a 1994 nomination for Nelle and in 2013, Foster received the Golden Globe’s notable Cecil B. DeMille Award for her overall contributions to entertainment.

While the actress has continued to appear in movies, she’s also moved behind the camera as a TV and film producer and director. With recent credits including the movies The Beaver and Money Monster and episodes of Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Black Mirror and Tales from the Loop, Foster today enjoys sharing the decades of knowledge she’s acquired – as well as the spotlight – with her colleagues and costars.

“It’s so much more fun being a part of a team than being all by yourself, getting pelted,” Foster says, adding that she also appreciates, “being so proud of a team and watching other actors that have different strengths than you have.”

Amid all the Nyad buzz and with True Detective about to drop, Foster has proven it is, in fact, still her time. The pressure, however, is off — which gives her the freedom to approach new roles and projects with a different mindset.

“I’ve accomplished so many of the goals that I had, I can kind of put those aside,” she explains. “Now it’s really about saying. ‘What gets me excited?’ And sometimes it’s a sliver of something. It can be a small thing.”

If you’re wondering what got Foster excited about True Detective: Night Country, it turns out it was more than just a sliver of something.

Jodie Foster talks returning to TV for True Detective

Jodie Foster, Paper Moon, 1974
Jodie Foster, Paper Moon, 1974ABC via Getty Images

Foster earned Primetime Emmy nominations for producing The Baby Dance in 1999 and directing the Orange Is the New Black episode “Lesbian Request Denied” in 2014. She’s also lent her recognizable voice to The Simpsons, Frasier and The X-Files – but True Detective: Night Country marks Foster’s first time taking the lead on the small screen since the 70s!

“That is really surprising,” Foster admits. “I lived in the feature world and well, we’ve come to an amazing moment in cinema history — and that’s the time that real narrative is really on streaming [services]. That’s where some of the best work is being done. It gives you an opportunity to explore characters, without necessarily having it be a slave to the genre. And also, six episodes allows you to bring in other voices than the traditional voices we have seen in features. I’m super excited.”

Foster adds that her “addiction” to streaming actually started with the first season of True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. “It was just one of those things that I just binge watched and loved and always return to,” she shares.

That said, she didn’t jump right on board after meeting with Night Country writer and director Issa López. “I wasn’t really convinced,” Foster admits with a laugh. “I think I said some scary things, like, ‘I don’t like that.’ ‘What about this,’ ‘Grrr.’ And then I left town.”

What Foster actually said, according to López, was that she loved the script, but just couldn’t see herself in her character, Danvers. The pair talked it out and when Foster returned to town, she says, “It was just amazing to see a brand-new character emerge that was more than I could have ever hoped for or anticipated.”

Issa López dishes on the female leads of True Detective: Night Country

Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, True Detective: Night Country, 2024
Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, True Detective: Night Country, 2024Michele K. Short/HBO

Like Foster, López is a longtime fan of True Detective and she looked to creator Nic Pizzolatto’s original season to set the tone for this newest incantation.

I thought, ‘What was it about that first season of True Detective that hit us all so hard?’” she recalls. “It was the atmosphere. There was something about that Southern gothic that stayed with us — something about these two characters that are so different, in this world that was, in itself, a third character.”

López leaned into that with an epic landscape, local culture, and clashing characters for Night Country, but also brought a female energy to the fore with Foster’s Detectives Liz Danvers and Reis’s Evangeline Navarro.

“I just turn it on its head and I created these two female characters who are so different, trying to solve this very, very eerie crime in the backdrop of this endless landscape,” she says.

After her conversation with Foster, Night Country’s showrunner added more layers to both Danvers and Navarro to make them even more powerful, broken, and if not always likeable, at least relatable.

“These are the women that on one hand I wish I was — in strength and in resilience and in complexity,” López teases. “These are also the women that I fear I am! They have flaws that I see in myself and the people I love around me.”

Jodie Foster teases her role in True Detective: Night Country

In 2024’s installment of True Detective, the mystery begins when eight men in a remote research station vanish just after the endless darkness of winter falls over Ennis, Alaska. With Detective Danvers on the case and Navarro convinced the crime is connected to the long-unsolved disappearance of an indigenous activist, the estranged partners find themselves thrown back together again — and they will have to face their own demons, as well as those buried under Alaska’s eternal ice, to get to the truth.

While the original True Detective tapped into steamy Louisiana lore, Night Country delves into the traditions, spirituality and mythology of Alaska’s indigenous Inupiat people. That makes room for ancient stories that at times pull the mystery into horror territory, and yet it also grounds Navarro — who is of mixed Dominican and Inupiat heritage — in the very real quest for identity and belonging.

Though Foster shares the lead credit with Reis in Night Country and Danvers has her own healing to do, the Hollywood veteran reveals this story is centered on indigenous Alaskans, with Navarro the voice and heart of the film.

“I would say if the population in the Arctic is 80% Inuit, so is our story,” Foster previews. “And it’s not just one tried old story from a white lens of indigenous victims. It really is a full, modern understanding of who those people are. And it’s so wonderful to see.”

The six-episode HBO crime drama True Detective: Night Country premieres Sunday, January 14, (9:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on Max.

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