朱迪·福斯特出生在加州的洛杉矶市, 她的母亲和父亲分别是Evelyn ‘Brandy’ Ella (born Almond) 和Lucius Fisher Foster III。 她的父亲早年是一位空军上校，后来成了不动产经纪人。当朱迪还未出生的时候，家境富裕的父亲就抛下了一家人走了。朱迪·福斯特的母亲找了一份电影制片人的工作，以此来养活一家人。The Doris Day Show是朱迪·福斯特第一次在电视上露脸并且获得好评，之后她又以儿童的形象出现在几支商业广告中。她的第一个电影角色出现在1970年的电视电影Menace on the Mountain中，由迪斯尼公司摄制完成。
Foster attended a French-speaking prep school, the Lycée Français de Los Angeles, and graduated in 1980 as the valedictorian. As a teenager, Foster frequently stayed and worked in France, and still speaks the language. Now she dubs herself in the French-language version of most of her films. She then attended Yale University at the same time as Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). Foster earned a B.A. in literature and graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She was scheduled to graduate in 1984 but the shooting of then-President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr., in which Hinckley’s fascination with Foster created unwanted adverse publicity for her, caused her to take a year-long leave of absence from Yale. She was informed of the shooting by fellow classmate, Bernard Gilmore.
Foster made nearly 50 film and television appearances before she attended college. She began her career at age three as the Coppertone Girl in a television commercial and debuted as a television actress in a 1968 episode of Mayberry R.F.D. In 1969, she appeared in an episode of Gunsmoke, where she was credited as “Jody Foster”. Although not a regular on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, she appeared from time to time as Eddie’s friend Joey Kelly. She made her film debut in the 1970 TV movie Menace on the Mountain. Foster made a number of Disney movies, including Napoleon and Samantha (1972), One Little Indian (1973), Freaky Friday (1976), and Candleshoe (1977). She also co-starred with Christopher Connelly in the 1974 TV series version of Paper Moon and alongside Martin Sheen in the 1976 cult film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. As a teenager, Foster made several appearances on the French pop music circuit as a singer. Commenting on her years as a child actress, which she describes as an “actor’s career”, Foster has said that “it was very clear to me at a young age that I had to fight for my life and that if I didn’t, my life would get gobbled up and taken away from me.” She hosted Saturday Night Live at age 14, making her the youngest person to host at that time until Drew Barrymore hosted at the age of seven. She also said, “I think all of us when we look back on our childhood, we always think of it as somebody else. It’s just a completely different place. But I was lucky to be around in the ’70s and to really be making movies in the ’70s with some great filmmakers — the most exciting time, for me, in American Cinema. I learned a lot from some very interesting artists — and I learned a lot about the business at a young age, because, for whatever reason, I was paying attention; so it was kind of invaluable in my career.”
Foster was originally considered for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but was unable to pull out of her contract with Disney. She made her debut (and only official) musical recordings in France in 1977: two 7″ singles, “Je T’attends Depuis la Nuit des Temps” b/w “La Vie C’est Chouette”and “When I Looked at Your Face” b/w “La Vie C’est Chouette.” The A-side of the former is sung in French, the A-side of the latter in English. The B-side of both is mostly spoken word and is performed in both French and English. These three recordings were included on the soundtrack to Foster’s 1977 French film Moi, fleur bleue.
At age 14, Foster was nominated for the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her role as Iris, an underage prostitute in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver opposite Robert De Niro. Foster received two BAFTA awards in 1976: Best Newcomer and Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Bugsy Malone and Taxi Driver.
John Hinckley Jr., a deranged fan, became obsessed with her after watching Taxi Driver a number of times, and he stalked her while she attended Yale, sending her love letters to her campus mail box and even talking to her on the phone. On March 30, 1981, he attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan, (shooting and wounding Reagan and three others) and claimed his motive was to impress Foster, then a Yale freshman. The media stormed the Yale campus in April “like a cavalry invasion”, and followed Foster relentlessly. In 1982, Foster was called to testify during his trial. After she responded to a question by saying that “I don’t have any relationship with John Hinckley,” Hinckley threw a pen at her and yelled “I’ll get you, Foster!” Hinckley’s obsession inspired a punk rock band to name themselves Jodie Foster’s Army. Another man, Edward Richardson, followed Foster around Yale and planned to shoot her, but decided against it because she “was too pretty”. This all caused intense discomfort to Foster, who has been known to walk out of interviews if Hinckley’s name is even mentioned. In 1991, Foster cancelled an interview with NBC’s Today Show when she was told Hinckley’s name would be mentioned in her introduction. Foster’s only public reactions to this were a press conference afterwards and an article entitled “Why Me?”, which she wrote for Esquire in December 1982. In 1999, she discussed the experience with Charlie Rose of 60 Minutes II.
Unlike other child stars such as Shirley Temple or Tatum O’Neal, Foster successfully made the transition to adult roles, but not without initial difficulty. Several of her post-Taxi Driver works were financially unsuccessful, such as Foxes, The Hotel New Hampshire, Five Corners, and Stealing Home. She had to audition for her role in The Accused. She won the part and the first of her two Golden Globes and Academy Awards as Best Actress for her role as a rape survivor. She earned her second as FBI agent Clarice Starling, opposite Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. She made her directorial debut in 1991 with Little Man Tate, a critically acclaimed drama about a child prodigy, in which she also co-starred as the child’s mother. She also directed Home for the Holidays (1995), a black comedy starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. In 1992, Foster founded a production company called Egg Pictures in Los Angeles. It primarily produced independent films until it was closed in 2001. Foster said that she did not have the ambition to produce “big mainstream popcorn” movies, and as a child, independent films made her more interested in the movie business than mainstream ones. She began working as a producer in 1994 with the acclaimed Nell, the story of a young woman raised in an isolated place who as to return to civilization. She later commented that it was difficult being an actress and a producer for Nell.
Foster played Laural Sommersby in Sommersby and Annabelle Bransford in the 1994 film Maverick. Sommersby co-star Richard Gere would comment that “She’s very much a close-up actress, because her thoughts are clear.” In 1997, she starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in the sci-fi movie Contact, based on the novel by scientist Carl Sagan. She portrayed a scientist searching for extraterrestrial life in the SETI project. She commented on the script that “I have to have some acute personal connection with the material. And that’s pretty hard for me to find.” Contact was also her first science fiction film, and her first experience with a bluescreen. She commented, “Blue walls, blue roof. It was just blue, blue, blue. And I was rotated on a lazy Susan with the camera moving on a computerized arm. It was really tough.” In 1998, an asteroid, 17744 Jodiefoster, was named in her honor.
In 2002, Foster took over the lead role in David Fincher’s Panic Room after Nicole Kidman was injured during initial filming. The film grossed over 30 million dollars in its opening weekend in the United States, Foster’s biggest box office opening success of her career so far. She then performed in the French-language film Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) (2004), speaking French fluently throughout. Foster returned in the 2005 film Flightplan which opened once again #1 at the U.S. box office and was a worldwide hit. Foster portrayed a woman whose daughter disappears on an airplane that her character, an engineer, had helped to design.
In 2006, she appeared in Inside Man, a thriller directed by Spike Lee and co-starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen, which opened #1 at the U.S. box office and went on to be one of the commercial hits of the year. In 2008, she starred in The Brave One directed by Neil Jordan and co-starring Terrence Howard, another urban thriller that opened at #1 at the U.S. box office. Foster’s performance in the film would earn her a sixth Golden Globe acting nomination. Commenting on her latest roles, Foster has said that she enjoys appearing in mainstream genre films that have a “real heart to them.” Indeed, many of her most successful films in recent years have been thrillers.
Foster was set to direct, as well as reunite with actor Robert De Niro, for the film Sugarland. The film was shelved indefinitely in 2007, however. In 2008, Foster starred in Nim’s Island, portraying a reclusive writer who is contacted by a young girl after her father goes missing at sea. The part of Nim is played by Abigail Breslin. Nim’s Island is the first comedy that Foster has starred in since Maverick in 1994. Foster is currently developing a biopic of Leni Riefenstahl.
Foster has two sisters and a brother, Lucinda “Cindy” Foster (b. 1954), Constance “Connie” Foster (b. 1955), and Lucius “Buddy” Foster (b. 1957). During the filming of both Taxi Driver and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Connie was her stand-in. Buddy Foster had his own career for several years appearing in regular spots on television shows such as Hondo and Mayberry, R.F.D. Foster and her brother have been estranged for many years. In 1997, he wrote a book entitled Foster Child, which widened the rift; she disagreed with many claims that her brother made in the book.
Foster has two sons: Charles Bernard Foster (b. 20 July 1998) and Kit Bernard Foster (b. 29 September 2001). Foster gave birth to both children, but has not revealed the identity of the children’s father (or fathers) or the specifics of their conception.
Foster is intensely private about certain aspects of her personal life, notably her sexual orientation, which has been the subject of speculation. In December 2007, she made headlines when at a breakfast for Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment”, she made an acceptance speech in which she paid tribute to longtime companion film producer Cydney Bernard, with whom Foster has lived for 14 years, referring to her as “my beautiful Cydney, who sticks with me through the rotten and the bliss.” Some media interpreted this as Foster coming out.
On May 15, 2008, several news outlets reported that Foster and Bernard had “called it quits,” with The Rewind calling Bernard “her girlfriend of 14 years”.
Foster is an atheist and does not follow any “traditional religion,” but has “great respect for all religions” and spends “a lot of time studying divine texts, whether it’s Eastern religion or Western religion.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she stated that she and her children celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah.