At last night’s Golden Globe Awards, the long, emotional speech that Jodie Foster gave in accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award is the moment most likely to be remembered, says TIME’s James Poniewozik. But “most likely to be remembered” does not equal “most likely to be understood.”
Foster began lightheartedly, thanking her colleagues, saying she felt like a prom queen and referencing Saturday Night Live in joking about how, while age 50 may seem young to look back on a lifetime, she has been in the business for 47 years. But her moving speech turned raw and, well, rambling. Seven minutes later, it left some viewers confused about what she was trying to tell her fellow celebrities and viewers at home.
One thing is clear: after Foster hinted at a big revelation, saying, “I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never been able to air in public,” before she quipped, “I am … single,” any speculation over the star’s sexuality has come to an end. “I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight,” she said, “because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age.” She added that the people she knows have long been aware of the details of her personal life and that she is “not Honey Boo Boo Child” and doesn’t like having to speak publicly about what’s private. She did, however, acknowledge her co-parent, ex and “righteous soul sister,” Cydney Bernard, the woman whom she thanked while accepting a 2007 award, a decision that brought the very private actress’s love life into the spotlight.
After riffing about her need for privacy by saying she would have to “spank Daniel Craig’s bottom” in order for a reality show about her life to be interesting, Foster spoke about the value of fighting for her own space throughout a career that began at age 3, and then movingly thanked her ailing mother, who suffers from dementia.
Which is when things got really cryptic:
“This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else,” she said, after an earlier mention that she has often contemplated quitting the movie business. (Skip to about 5:55 in the video to watch this portion of her speech.) “I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved,” she went on. “It’s the greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. Maybe it won’t be as sparkly. Maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens. Maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here. I still am.”
So was she announcing her retirement from Hollywood? Many who responded to the speech in real time believed so. From Jezebel: “I think it was Jody Foster (sic) refusing to come out as she came out, and then retiring. I think?” The Associated Press featured the headline, “Foster Reveals She’s Gay, Suggests She’s Retiring.”
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Luckily for all those wondering, Foster has cleared things up. According to the Hollywood Reporter, any ideas that she might be missing from multiplexes in the future are misconstrued. “No, I am not retiring,” she is reported as saying. “I could never stop acting. You’d have to drag me with wild horses … I’m actually more into it than I’ve been.” What she meant to say, she clarified, was that the award was a nice milestone at which to examine her past and her trajectory and to think about how she and her career are evolving.
No word yet on whether she has real plans to spank Craig.