The 1996 film Foxfire was based on a novel by best-selling author Joyce Carol Oates. Though the film had no outright lesbian content, it was very much about the relationships between the young women, and their love for one another surpassed friendship, bringing them to a point of commitment secured by tattoos and general bad-assery. Bonded by their rebelling against a predatory teacher, they found one another to be a safe haven from the judgmental high school halls.
So whatever happened to those girls who ran with foxes?
Hedy Burress (Maddy, the photographer who hates her teacher)
Since Foxfire, Hedy has largely worked in television, notably in her roles as Joanie Moore on ER and as Laurie Cooper on Southland. She also does a lot of voiceover work for video games, including Final Fantasy and Terminator Salvation.
Angelina Jolie (Legs, the drifter with an attitude)
Besides being the world’s overwhelming choice of the celebrity they’d sleep with if they had the opportunity, Angelina went on to win an Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted and has starred in more than 20 films. She also played model Gia Carangi in the story of her life, just two years after Foxfire came out, thus solidifying her status as a lesbian icon.
Jenny Lewis (Rita, the overweight girl who is sexually assaulted)
While Jenny had maintained a solid acting career up through 2000, it was music that really made the redheaded beauty a star. As the frontwoman of Rilo Kiley, Jenny recorded five albums before releasing two solo efforts. Her latest project is with her boyfriend, musician Johnathan Rice, under the moniker Jenny and Johnny.
Sarah Rosenberg (Violet, the girl who gets around)
Sarah is still acting and has been in a handful of short films as well as roles in films such as Slaughter Party and the upcoming Joe Dick. She’s also written two films, including Beavers & Maple Syrup (2010) and Shooting Nick (2004).
Jenny Shimizu (Goldie, the adopted drug user)
The model-turned actress has stayed in the public eye by starring in Dante’s Cove, making an appearance in Itty Bitty Titty Committee and, of course, modeling! She served as a judge on Make Me a Supermodel Season 2 and also headed up her own line of fashionable Ts. She is currently working at Women Model Management, branding the supermodels of the future.
Annette Haywood-Carter (director)
The first-time director went on to become a professor of film at The Savannah College of Art and Design. She’s now working on her second feature, Savannah, which is now in production and stars Jim Caviezel, Chiwetel Ejiofar and Sam Shepard. The film is about male friendship in the deep South, and is poised to release February 2012.
While Foxfire was being filmed in Portland, castmates Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu were dating. This relationship has become the impetus for many “lesbian rumors” about Jolie, no matter who she is dating. But in the film, it was Hedy Burress’ character Maddy that had the deepest connection with Jolie’s Legs. It was Maddy who Legs shared the bed with; Maddy who asked her, “If I told you that I loved you, would you take it the wrong way?” They were the first to bare their chests and receive the self-inflicted flame tattoos.
Despite the obvious lesbian undertones, the girls’ closeness was never referred to in that way — not even negatively. It was understood they shared a bond, but there was no one calling them dykes or questioning why they’d leave behind boyfriends to spend all of their time together. Foxfire was devoid of homophobia, which was incredibly refreshing — especially because it wasn’t the point. While some of the girls could have identified as gay, it wasn’t part of why they were friends. Their closeness was about the ridicule and abuse they faced as women in a world where they were seen as weak and worthy of touching and torment.
At the end of the film, when Legs goes a little too far and ends up leaving town, the girls are left with a strength they might not have found otherwise. Legs was the tough, no-nonsense, sexy friend they all needed — that we all wish we had, and the Foxfire girls were some of the best friends you wish you could have. I still do, 15 years later.
When’s the last time you watched Foxfire? Do you think it counts as a “lesbian” film?