in the magazine

Jodie Foster on Roaming the Streets at Night

“It’s amazing, the little things that start happening in the middle of
the night.”Photo: Getty Images

In our Fall Preview issue, we talked with Jodie Foster about her film The Brave One, which confronts all kinds of fun New York themes: post-9/11 fears, gentrification, street violence, and more. We couldn’t fit it all into the article, so here are the best outtakes, including her thoughts on New York becoming a gentrified Disneyland, “some Westworld version for rich people.” —Logan Hill

There’s a lot of talk in this film about New York disappearing.
We try to get at this sense of living in this city you’ve loved for this almost nostalgic idea of what it’s meant to you. The way you feel as little by little you see it crumbling. You’re trying to hold on to it, but it’s disappearing in your fingers.

There’s construction in the background of lots of the scenes — it looks like my neighborhood.
I have an apartment here. I’ve watched it change over the years, mainly because I did so many films here.

The film talks about this paranoia on the street. Do you see it when you’re in town?
You know, I was on the subway a while ago, and somebody left a shopping cart on the car. Nobody was claiming it — and it was like this little bit of panic goes through the car. One guy with a kid was saying “Is it yours? Did you see who left it?” And everyone gets out at the next stop, nobody touching the thing. Ten years ago, nobody would have worried at all.

Would you say that there’s a political subtext to the film? Your character’s reaction is in some ways more destructive than the crime committed against her. Were you thinking of Bush?
Well, it’s more that powerlessness and rage and fear are peculiarly American. They’re kind of a part of the American experience. And when we have these feelings inside, what do we do? We buy a gun.

The film takes a few stabs at gentrification along the way.
Have you ever been to Universal City Walk? They have a New York street, and you go like, wow. This kind of looks like a doorway, that looks kind of like a deli. It’s an imitation of an imitation, so that people can walk down the street and not get hit by cars and have the experience of buying an ice cream. It’s like this weird Westworld fabricated experience, where they can feel like they’re entering into the reality of New York but it’s really fake. New York is getting more like that. I see the places where I had a first kiss, where I learned how to play guitar, where I sat and watched the sun come up. And I think, Is this going to be some Westworld version of that now, for rich people?

Any specific favorite memories from back in the day?
Most of them about college, just about being with friends. This one friend I love dearly, a friend since I was 18, always bought things that didn’t work: old vintage Ferraris and motorcycles. Once I was driving with him on an Italian motorbike and the lights went out on the Brooklyn Bridge. He picked me up at this theater on the Upper West Side once in a ‘56 Chevy pickup or something at rush hour. Right on Amsterdam and it died — there was no starting it. So he and I are pushing this 5,000-ton cherry-red Chevy pickup through this massive street, with every single person in New York shouting at us and honking at us. But my best memories are all of being up at four o’clock in the middle of the night, outside of some club, eating doughnuts.

You stayed up late to shoot this film too, right? Most of it takes place at night.
When you’re up all night, it changes your perspective. You’re having breakfast as the sun’s going down, then your life begins with all these people who are like vampires. In New York, it’s kind of great. You finish at five o’clock in the morning, four in the morning. I don’t go to clubs or bars so it was always four in the morning and I’m thinking, What am I gonna do?; I’d just walk and walk and walk through the city. It’s amazing, the little things that start happening in the middle of the night.

Like what?
Like I ran into all these people I knew! I’d just say, “My God, this is what you do at night?!”

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Jodie Foster on Roaming the Streets at Night