Who could be the next Jodie Foster?


Who could be the next Jodie Foster? That’s the question that MSNBC asked its readers. (Click here to see the results.)

It’s kind of an intriguing question — and one that I’ve actually considered independently. (But I’ll get back to that later.) Of course, Jodie Foster is a unique individual who cannot be replicated, but I’ll assume that the folks at MSNBC are speculating about which young, talented actress will successfully transition to a working adult actress.

Of course, they could be asking which young, talented actress will grow up to have a happy, private, lesbian family.

Or which young, talented actress will grow up to look incredibly hot in a white tank top.

But I suspect they’re thinking about talent. Which is pretty reasonable given how much of it she possesses.

The thing that always struck me about Jodie Foster as a kid actor was how mature she seemed. She was never smarmy or cutesy or cloying; she was always just this really talented actress who was young.

By the time she was an adolescent, she was compelling in roles with adult overtones. Unlike Scott Baio, who looked like a kid in a suit in Bugsy Malone, Jodie Foster looked like a woman as the speakeasy showgirl Tallulah.

(If you’ve never seen movie; you have to at least check out the trailer.)

And then, of course, there’s her performance that indicated maturity and talent well beyond her years in Taxi Driver.

She was the real deal as a kid and adolescent, and I’m sure you all know her adult body of work.

Ergo, I would say that any young actress who could hope to be considered “the next Jodie Foster” would have to meet the following criteria:

a. Be (or have been) a talented, prolific, non-smarmy kid actress.

b. Have the potential to become a talented, prolific, working adult actress.

b. Not be publicly crazy.

Let’s take a quick look at the top picks on MSNBC’s list to see how they rate.

1. Dakota Fanning (41 percent of the vote when I last checked)

a. She’s been working steadily since she was 6. Some roles have bordered on smarmy (Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story), but generally she’s been good.

b. At least a couple of her roles have been gritty (Hide and Seek, Man on Fire), and she’s gotten great reviews.

c. No public craziness yet.

I agree that she’s got a fair amount of potential.

2. Ellen Page (21 percent)

a. I don’t know any of her pre-Hard Candy work.

b. I hear she was great in Hard Candy and I loved her in Juno, so she’s got potential.

c. No public craziness yet.

I don’t think she qualifies on the child actress front, but she may turn out to be great — although it sounds like she plays her character in Smart People a lot like a conservative version of Juno. So, it may be too soon to know whether she’s one-note. But I’m glad she’s not crazy.

3. Abigail Breslin (17 percent)

a. She’s been working since she was 6 and was nominated for an Oscar at 11.

b. Who knows at this point, but it certainly seems possible.

c. She seems like a real kid in her press, so who knows.

Abigail Breslin, of course, has just finished working with Jodie Foster in Nim’s Island, so she’s got the mentoring advantage.

4. Evan Rachel Wood (4.6 percent)

a. I don’t really know her pre-Once and Again work, but she was the best kid on that show.

b. There’s a definite maturity to her work in both Once and Again and Thirteen.

c. That Marilyn Manson thing — serious public craziness. Ew! Ew! Ew!

Jodie Foster would never have a creepy relationship with Marilyn Manson.

So, I guess, I’m going with Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin … but I don’t really trust my own assessment here. Because about four years ago, I was positive (and vocal) that Lindsay Lohan was Jodie Foster’s heir apparent.

She was such a great kid and adolescent actress and appeared to have so much potential. Her Parent Trap remake was not at all smarmy. Her turn as Jodie Foster’s character in the remake of Freaky Friday was possibly better than the original. And she was perfect in Mean Girls. Perfect. (And I don’t just attribute that to Tina Fey‘s writing.) Lohan had basically gotten to the Foxes stage of Jodie Foster’s career, and it seemed like she was going to make the transition.


Consequently, I get nervous making this prediction about any other talented, seemingly non-crazy young actress.

But that’s just my neurosis. Who do you think could be the next Jodie Foster?

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