Jodie Foster

On this date in 1962, Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster was born in Los Angeles. Her professional debut was at age 3 in a Coppertone Suntan lotion commercial. Foster made a series of TV appearances and movies as a child, and was once mauled by a lion while making a Disney film. Her "big break" role was being cast as a preteen prostitute in "Taxi Driver" (1976). She graduated best of her class from the College Lycee Francais in 1980. She was stalked by John Hinkley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in a warped paean to "Taxi Driver" in 1981. Foster graduated magna cum laude from Yale with a degree in literature in 1985. She earned two Academy Awards as best actress, for "The Accused" (1988) and for "Silence of the Lambs" (1991). Her many movies include "Nell" (1994), and "Contact" (1997), in which she memorably portrayed the atheist astronomer protagonist based on Carl Sagan's novel. The casting was apt, since Foster is not religious. She has also directed movies, including "Little Man Tate" (1991).

“I absolutely believe what Ellie [Arroway, the atheist astronomer in the movie "Contact"] believes—that there is no direct evidence, so how could you ask me to believe in God when there's absolutely no evidence that I can see? I do believe in the beauty and the awe-inspiring mystery of the science that's out there that we haven't discovered yet, that there are scientific explanations for phenomena that we call mystical because we don't know any better.”

—Jodie Foster, interview with Dan McLeod, The Georgia Straight, July 10-17, 1997, page 43, cited by Celebrity Atheist List.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by Featureflash /

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