Amazing Actors

amazing women

Jodie Foster (1962- )

Jodie Foster

"Normal is not something to aspire to,
it's something to get away from."

Being "normal" isn't something Jodie Foster need worry about - after all, this extraordinary woman is one of the most talented and intelligent actors ever alive. She is also an outstanding director and producer. Born Alicia Christian Foster in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962, Jodie's special gifts were apparent from an early age. She began reading at three and by age four had starred in a television commercial. Her intelligence and businesslike attitude led to numerous acting jobs. Between the ages of seven and 10 she appeared on television sitcoms and she made her film debut in 1972. Her breakthrough role was as a child prostitute opposite Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's controversial Taxi Driver (1976), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Jodie appeared in numerous films throughout the 1980s and her next big break came in 1988 with The Accused, in which she played a victim of gang rape. She won her first Academy Award for this role. Her second Academy Award came a few years later when she starred as Special Agent Clarice Starling in the FBI psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs (1991), starring opposite Anthony Hopkins, who portrayed Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter. In 1991 she made her directorial debut with Little Man Tate, in which she also starred. In 1992 she formed her own production company, Egg Pictures, whose first project was Nell (1994), which Jodie produced and starred in alongside Liam Neeson. She was again nominated for an Academy Award for that part. She has directed and/or produced several other projects in recent years, in addition to starring in such films as Contact (1997), based on Carl Sagan's science fiction novel, and Anna and the King (1999), as the English schoolteacher who captured the heart of the King of Siam. Jodie refused to reprise her role as Clarice Starling in Hannibal (2001); she cited scheduling conflicts as the reason, though many people think it's because she thought the script was inferior. More recent projects include David Fincher's thriller The Panic Room, in which Jodie plays a woman terrorized by burglars, and The Brave One, where she plays a victim who takes matters into her own hands.
Jodie was an exceptionally mature and talented child actor of the 1970s who made the transition to adult stardom largely unscathed (unlike Drew Barrymore), despite one of the most bizarre episodes of fan worship in history: her performance in Taxi Driver led her to become the object of obsessive fixation for John Hinckley, who years later attempted to assassinate President Reagan to impress her. Her divorced mother Brandy was her initial manager, and young Jodie supported her entire family (a mother, brother, and two sisters) with her acting work. Her father had left them when her mother was pregnant with Jodie. Acquaintances often felt that Jodie and her mother had a husband/wife dynamic, Jodie being the "man" of the family. As she grew up, she developed her own career through a careful selection of projects and expert tailoring of her public image. Despite Jodie's busy career, she remained an excellent student. Fluent in French by age 14, she was valedictorian of her class at the Lycée Français (a French-speaking high school in Los Angeles) and went on to major in literature at Yale University, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She later received an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1997. While studying there, Jodie squeezed in appearances in films and television. Like Natalie Portman, Jodie is an instinctual performer who never took acting lessons. Nevertheless, she was the first actress to receive two Oscars before the age of 30. That, combined with her successful ventures into directing and producing, finally consolidated Jodie's reputation in Hollywood as a supremely talented jack-of-all-trades. Her formation of Egg Pictures let her choose whether to act in, direct, or simply produce films, gaining rare control and flexibility for an actor and a woman in Hollywood.
What makes Jodie so rare is that she has excelled to such a high level in so many areas. Even so, she has managed to be one of the most intensely private celebrities in the world. She always stays out of the limelight and little is known about her personal life, including the identity of the father of her two sons (born in 1998 and 2001), which has led to much speculation about her sexual orientation - fueled in part by her brother's unauthorized biography of her which identifies her as a lesbian. What is known about Jodie Foster is that she's admirably intelligent, a sharp businesswoman in Hollywood, a talented actor, director, and producer, and a great feminist icon. She certainly is an outstanding woman who shapes her own life and career. As for the rest, she has said: "Being understood is not the most essential thing in life." Jodie has said that her only regret is that she would love to live life without knowing what it's like to be famous, but she also has said: "It's not my personality to be extroverted emotionally, so acting has been helpful to me." Jodie often feels more at home making movies than living out her "normal" life: "I can't go to Disneyland without having a specialized experience, with V.I.P. passes and people treating me differently. But I can play someone who goes to Disneyland. Onscreen, I can have a life I've never been able to have." Jodie is an intense woman whose determination and unique talent have made her one of the highest-paid actors in the world. But does she care? She once said: "I don't need to be Tom Cruise. I just need to work forever." Don't worry Jodie, I'm sure that won't be a problem!

Jodie Foster Jodie Foster Jodie Foster Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster Jodie Foster Jodie Foster Jodie Foster Jodie Foster

Drew Barrymore (1975- )

Drew Barrymore

"There's something liberating about not pretending.
Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk."

Drew Barrymore is simply one of the most likeable personalities out there. She is not only an adorable and fiery actor, but also a Hollywood powerhouse in her own right as a producer. Born in Los Angeles on February 22, 1975 and coming from a legendary acting family, Drew was in television commercials as a baby. In 1982 she gained instant fame as Gertie in Steven Spielberg's E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial. She then starred in the sci-fi thriller Firestarter (1984), based on the novel by Stephen King, and Irreconcilable Differences (1984), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. But this child star soon developed problems. She was drinking by age nine, smoking marijuana by 10, and using cocaine by 12. She was a party-loving wild child. By the time she was 14, she had been institutionalized in a rehab center/mental institution after a suicide attempt. She then chronicled these highly-publicized bouts and her subsequent recovery in her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. After minor roles in unsuccessful projects, she made a comeback with her first major starring role in Poison Ivy (1992). She quickly gained success and newfound respect with such films as Bad Girls (1994), Boys on the Side, and Mad Love (both 1995). By the time she had a high-profile cameo in Wes Craven's runaway hit Scream (1996), she had become a major Hollywood star. She appeared opposite Edward Norton in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You (1996), alongside Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer (1998), and with Anjelica Huston in the Cinderella story Ever After (1998). She then ventured into producing with her next project. She had founded her production company Flower Films in 1994, and their first release was Never Been Kissed (1999), a remarkable look into high school popularity, cliques, and the importance of being yourself. The year 2000 saw her star with Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu in the super-blockbuster big-screen version of Charlie's Angels, which showed Drew as a tough action heroine. She was also a producer on the film. More recent projects are Penny Marshall's Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), in which she plays a teen mother, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, a successful blockbuster sequel. Drew continues to serve as producer as well as actor on most of her projects.
Drew Barrymore was an adorable childhood star who overcame an adolescence of chemical addiction to reclaim her status as America's mischievous sweetheart. Coming from an acting dynasty that included the great John Barrymore, her grandfather, Drew showed talent and promise from birth. She was precious to watch as a child actor, but the public's fascination soon turned to her sordid Hollywood lifestyle, another Barrymore tradition. But she was resilient and rode a confident wave of celebrity and controversy into the 1990s. Her shock value was then of her wild personality and carefree spirit, including multiple tattoos and antics such as free-spirited nudity at bars, in magazines, and even displayed on late-night television for David Letterman. She once said: "There's something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk." Her undeniable charm, depth, and assuredness shone in films like Boys on the Side as her beauty, warm smile, and the sometimes devilish fire in her eyes continued to light up screens. Even though she never completed high school, Drew became a sharp businesswoman with Flower Films and now seems to have unlimited potential, both as an actor and as a producer. "You can stand around and complain at Hollywood, with all of its hurt and bullsh*t, or you can do something about it. I want to produce films, not to make more money or to become powerful, but just to have some control over my working life and future. I also want to work with people I like. I know my limitations. I am not a method actor; I am not brilliantly trained or highly technical. I have to bring a good deal of myself to a part or it doesn't work." Drew is a philanthropist and donates time and resources to charities including women's health and wildlife protection. Drew is a very compassionate person. "As long as I lay my head down on the pillow at night, and I can say I was a decent person today, that's when I feel beautiful."
Drew's family life was always tumultuous. Her parents had broken up just before she was born. Steven Spielberg, her godfather, "was - and always will be - the dad I never had." Drew had a personal triumph at age 15, when she became legally emancipated from her manager mother after having been continually at odds with her. She and her mother Jaid were unreconciled for most of Drew's teenage years and into her 20s. "The truth is that as a child I always wanted a boring functional family, with proper parents. I am fine now with the fact that my family is totally wacky. But you don't want guys like these to be your mom and dad." Though not fully reconciled with either of her parents, she now is on speaking terms with them. Her romantic life seemed to be happily cemented with a marriage to comedian and television personality Tom Green in 2001, but he filed for divorce only a few months into the marriage. Despite her roller-coaster-ride-of-a-past, Drew now is a grounded young woman. She emerged from her troubled childhood with her sense of humor intact, and she has no regrets about her career, nor about her life in general. For she said: "...when things come clear to you, no matter how you have to get there, as long as you grow and come out the other side of it, then it's all worth it." All in all, Drew is one of the nicest people in the business. "There's a hunger and a fervor that I have, but there's no person I'm going to push to the side to get where I'm going. I want to create my own road." And that she does.

Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore

Natalie Portman (1981- )

Natalie Portman

"I'm going to college. I don't care if it ruins my career.
I'd rather be smart than a movie star."

Natalie Portman is an amazing actor and young woman. She's not only beautiful and talented, but she's also intelligent and kind, luminous on screen and stunning in person, and full of integrity. An only child, she was born in Jerusalem, Israel on June 9, 1981. In the late 1980s, her family moved to the U.S., eventually settling on New York's Long Island. Her father is an infertility specialist and her mother is a homemaker. After a dance class in 1991, Natalie was discovered by a modeling scout in a pizza parlor. She said "no thanks" to modeling, but did express an interest in acting, something she pursued at summer theatre camp. Soon she found herself cast as a lead character in Luc Besson's Léon or The Professional when just 13 years old. From her very first film, Natalie was tagged with star quality. In Léon (1994), her character Mathilda befriends a rugged hitman played by Jean Reno. He serves as her mentor, and she becomes his savior. This intense film won Natalie popular attention and critical acclaim. She then had several smaller, yet memorable, roles. In Michael Mann's Heat (1995), she had a dark part as Al Pacino's suicidal stepdaughter. Next up was her scene-stealing turn in Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls (1996) as a precociously attractive, wise-beyond-her-years ingénue who captures the heart of Timothy Hutton. Her next films, Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You and Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! (both 1996), let Natalie act alongside a wide array of superstars, including Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Edward Norton, Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, and Martin Short. Natalie made her Broadway debut as the title character in a revised version of The Diary of Anne Frank when she was 16. For this role, critics noted her grace as well as her unfettered talent and youthful exuberance. She skyrocketed to international superstardom when she starred as the wise young leader Queen Amidala in George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). She then starred opposite Susan Sarandon in Anywhere But Here (1999), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and Stockard Channing and Ashley Judd in Where the Heart Is (2000). In the summer of 2001, she returned to the New York stage in Mike Nichols's production of Chekhov's The Seagull, starring with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, John Goodman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She appeared in the sequels Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. She won a Golden Globe for her part in Closer and starred in the independent hit Garden State in 2004. More recent roles include the heroine in V for Vendetta (2005), dual roles in Goya's Ghosts (2006), and as the infamous Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).
The types of roles Natalie plays are generally strong yet sensitive souls, reflecting her own grounded maturity. Although the provocative nature of some of her earlier roles (including the questionable relationships her character has with much older men in both Léon and Beautiful Girls) has caused some to wonder what kind of parents this young lady has, the reality is that the well-spoken and charming prodigy and her family have made continuous efforts to keep her from being exploited on and off the screen. "Portman" is a stage name; the real family name, Hershlag, was shielded from the press until she finished college. She has turned down movies such as Romeo + Juliet and the remake of Lolita due to what she and her parents thought was inappropriate subject matter or situations, and Natalie had a sex scene cut out from the script of Anywhere But Here. Natalie is very close with her parents: "The best part about being friends with your parents is that no matter what you do, they always love you." Eschewing cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and other vices in interviews, Natalie often seems like a goody-two-shoes. But she just is self-assured, strong, and pure. Since attending college and gaining some life experiences, she has become more reasonable in her outlook toward what she will depict onscreen. Talentwise she has been compared to a young Jodie Foster. But she's never had professional acting classes. "I'm not really someone who wants to study acting; when you're working in a field so long it seems kind of pointless to work on it. I think one of the best things for acting is just the spontaneity; there is a certain realness that you get from not having 'technique.' I've never been taught any technique or method for acting, so it's just like if I feel it or I don't. For stagework you need a lot more technique. I don't really like intellectualizing it; emotions are more important." And what of her beauty? In that, and in her natural grace, she has been frequently compared to a young Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor. "I've never really thought about being beautiful. It's not that I'm insecure - I might look at a picture of me and think it's a beautiful picture. But believe me, I can take awful pictures, too. I've just tried not to concentrate that hard on looks. I care what I look like, but eventually, looks fade. I know that's a cliché, but it's true. Sometimes I think people who are not attractive have it easier, because when they get older, they've really developed the other parts of themselves - their personalities, their intelligence."
In recent years, Natalie has felt more of the pressures of being a celebrity. She is uncomfortable with people staring at her, asking for autographs, and taking her picture. But Natalie has always tried not to let acting interfere with her real life, even attending high school on Long Island full-time while performing in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway eight times a week. She had long wanted to play that role: "I decided to do this play because I am truly convinced that people need to be constantly reminded of compassion. We have starving people, war-torn countries and children who will not have the chance to change the world as they should... It is the least I can do in tribute to Anne Frank, who has helped me become a better human being. Every day, when I go to rehearsal, petty problems that seem like traumas are put back into perspective and become trivial." She has a refreshingly clear outlook on Hollywood and a rare passion for education that complement her natural talent and unquestionable screen presence. She also is a compassionate animal lover who became a vegetarian at age eight. "I went to a medical conference with my dad where they were demonstrating laser surgery on a chicken. I think at that point I made the connection that animals were killed for meat." Upset that that chicken had to die, she has been a vegetarian ever since. Natalie is fluent in Hebrew and also speaks French and Japanese. A straight-A student since elementary school, Natalie received numerous honors upon high school graduation. Her favorite subject was math, because, as she says, "there's always an answer." She placed out of a whole year at Harvard and graduated as a psychology major. Natalie loves learning, especially languages and science. When focused on her education, she admitted that acting may not be where her future lies, but is something she just lucked into. In 1994 she said: "I'm going to college. I don't care if it ruins my career. I'd rather be smart than a movie star." What else might she do? She says acting is more of a hobby for her. Her priorities are family and education. She is also a philanthropist. "I have considered just not doing anything, going away writing, having kids and animals. I have considered doing psychology research or applying to business, law or politics... I just want to do a lot of things, I don't think I'll ever be satisfied just doing one thing." I'm sure the future holds many, many things for Natalie Portman. Even though she has achieved great success as an actor, she is not limiting herself to that career: "I don't really know if acting would have ultimately become my passion as an adult, or if there's something else I would have found had I not been in the pizza shop. That's what college is helping me investigate." The things I personally admire her most for are her commitment to her own education, compassion for animals, and not being afraid to be herself, even though she's decidedly un-Hollywood. Obviously it hasn't hurt her a bit!

Natalie Portman Natalie Portman Natalie Portman Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman Natalie Portman Natalie Portman Natalie Portman Natalie Portman

This site is about amazing women;
their brilliance, talent, and passion;
and the power of all women
to be amazing.


Amazing Actors Links:

Jodie Foster Webring
Drew Barrymore Webring
Drew Barrymore
Back to Amazing Women

Amazing Actors Must-Haves:
Taxi Driver DVD
Silence of the Lambs DVD
Never Been Kissed DVD
Charlie's Angels DVD
Léon/The Professional DVD
Closer DVD

Please visit my bookstore for more Amazing Actors items.

Thank you for visiting this website.
Please use the contact form on the main page
and tell me what you think about it.

© Amy Brown