En español | In The Beaver, her latest directorial project, Jodie Foster portrays the wife of clinically depressed toy-company executive Walter Black — played by Mel Gibson — who uses a beaver hand puppet to communicate with his family.
For Foster, casting Gibson was risky, given reports of his personal troubles, including allegations of substance abuse and domestic violence. Foster, 48, spoke about her hopes for the film, and the Mel Gibson she knows as her friend.
Q: What message did you want the film to convey?
A: The film struck a personal chord for me. It delves into the loneliness we all feel, faced with life's burdens. The only way to even try to cope is to connect.
Q: Did you draw on personal experience?
A: Most of us have come into contact with someone suffering from depression. When it's someone you have known intimately, you have firsthand knowledge of the devastation it can cause.
Q: Why did you choose Mel Gibson to costar?
A: I knew he could relate so much to Walter's struggles that there was no way he would treat it as a comedy. That Mel's character be dramatically consumed in this internal struggle was very important to me.
Q: Do you believe viewers can put aside their feelings about Gibson and appreciate his performance?
A: That's a good question for you. Can you put aside your feelings about an artist's personal struggles when you watch a piece of art? I honestly hope so.
Q: Tell us about your friendship with Gibson.
A: From the moment I met him, there was such a connection that I knew we would be friends for the rest of my life. We work exactly in the same way: No bull----. We've had so many conversations about the topics the film explores. He is a brilliant man, a beautiful talent, and a loyal, loyal friend. That's the man I know.
Q: A note in the credits at the end of the film directs viewers wanting help with depression to a website.
A: Our socially active financier felt strongly that the film could help others suffering from depression find a path to real help through connection. To access the website, go to takepart.com/thebeaver.
The Beaver opens May 6 in select cities.