LAS VEGAS — Jodie Foster grew up onscreen in the 1970s, acting beyond her age in such films as Taxi Driver and Freaky Friday. Now Abigail Breslin, who starred in Little Miss Sunshine, is doing the same.
The two were brought together for the adventure comedy Nim's Island, a film adaptation of the 2002 children's book. The movie centers on Breslin's prematurely self-sufficient youngster, who lives on a remote island with her father, played by Gerard Butler.
When her dad disappears, Nim strikes up an e-mail relationship with Foster's character, adventure author Alexandra Rover, and Rover eventually makes her way to the island to help Nim.
Breslin, who turns 12 on Monday, and Foster, 45, recently spoke about their similarities and the strange world of child actors.
Did you see a little of yourself in Abigail?
Jodie Foster: She's a city kid just like I am. We both like Chinese food and we like going to the movies and, you know, walking in New York. . . . And then to watch Abigail just kind of blossom and turn into this little wild thing with matted hair and diving into the waves and picking up bugs . . . It was a fun thing to see that change.
Abigail Breslin: Oh, yeah, I did pick up bugs. I picked up those worms in that one scene, which was not fun.
Foster: And there were all those lizards on our path. Everywhere we went in Hinchinbrook (Island), there was another lizard. And the lizards were like that big.
Breslin: I know, they were huge.
Were you remembering your own early acting days, watching her?
Foster: Because I started when I was 3 years old, we've lived very similar lifestyles. Traveling around with our parents, kind of like a gypsy, where you go to a new town or a new country. . . . That's a life that I just have so much fondness for. I felt like I learned so much and it gave me so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. So we've kind of lived that same life. And also just the life of doing something as a professional. . . . The combination of those two, I think those are things that we've really shared together.
Has your acting experience changed as you've gotten older?
Foster: I think that was the thing that I loved the most about making movies, to tell you the truth, was just the camera, and how did the camera work? . . . People on the crew would teach me things like how to pull focus, or the effects guys would teach me to make things with wooden sticks. I think that was the most fun part for me. . . . What about you, Abigail, what's the most fun part, do you think?
Breslin: What I like doing is being a different person. Every character is kind of different. So being able to be that person and then when you leave, you're yourself again.
Abigail, what did you learn from watching Jodie?
Breslin: My mom always told me the best way to learn is to watch and kind of learn from people. So that's what, watching her so believe the character that she is when she is doing it, it kind of helped me be Nim, because I was watching how much she believed that she is Alexandra.
Foster: That's nice. We did a lot of discussion, really important discussions about Popsicle flavors and what kind of food we like. That was pretty much the preparation that we did for our characters.
Breslin: Well, yeah. It's important. It's very important.