1991's Little Man Tate, which she also starred in, was a promising directorial debut, and Home for the Holidays was fair to middling, but since then she hasn't stepped behind the camera. As she told Entertainment Weekly in 2007, another movie she was set to direct, Sugarland starring Robert De Niro, "just fell apart again... That's the story in Hollywood. You make personal movies and they're really hard to get off the ground. S--- happens." Another passion project of hers, Flora Plum, was being shopped around to international distributors as early as 2000 by Good Machine, the company now known as Focus Features.
In the same EW interview, she said, "Usually it's actors who screw you. That's what happened on Flora Plum... Russell Crowe had that accident [he injured his shoulder while prepping for the film], it shut down, there was a [potential] strike, I lost my financing, we got it together again with [someone else], he left, it was done." And in 2008, she told EW, "I've decided now I no longer talk about this - because as soon as I talk about it, then it always ends up tanking, and then I have to explain why it tanked."
Flora Plum is tentatively slated for 2013 according to IMDb, although the lead, Evan Rachel Wood, told reporters in 2009 that she was "a month away from starting the trapeze training," according to Just Jared.
Cut to present day. Jodie Foster's next starring role is in The Beaver, which she also directed. As we all know, her costar in this strange story is Mel Gibson, who recently managed to offend almost everyone in the world (including pigs) with his insane tirade against his ex, Oksana Grigorieva.
In the aforementioned 2007 EW interview, Foster was asked about her friendship with Gibson in the wake of his 2006 drunken outburst and arrest. She said, "I love [Gibson]. I knew the minute I met him that he was going to be my friend for the rest of my life. I don't often feel that way, and I certainly never feel that way about actors. I know Mel extremely well, and anybody who has even remotely met him knows what a severe alcohol problem he's had his entire life." At that time she said he was "sober" and that was what mattered.
Well, he's either no longer sober or he's got some other serious issues to address. Either way, his behavior has been inexcusable and it's unclear how Foster could continue to stand behind him, especially since his behavior probably torpedoed his career and threatens the future of her movie as well. As the LA Times reported, for all of Foster's love for Gibson, he wasn't even the first actor to be attached to the project. It sounds like Foster fought to get him the starring role in a movie that, as the LAT notes, "was perceived as a risk even before Gibson came on." In addition, "Gibson's casting was seen as a challenge in part because of his age." Actors who are known for bad behavior on set or off are harder to insure, making the entire venture that much riskier for everyone involved.
So about those actors who screw you that she mentioned? Gibson screwed her big time, but she took that chance -- a big chance -- when she hired him. However, she made an informed choice; if she knows and "loves" Gibson, she had to know the risk involved. Foster may have bad luck, but she didn't do herself any favors on this one.
There are always mitigating circumstances, including just plain bad timing, but there's no doubt that Gibson's behavior will affect The Beaver, either at the distribution level or at the box office. The larger question is how will Jodie Foster's career survive this? Will she ever be able to get one of her "passion projects" off the ground? I'd certainly be first in line to see Flora Plum... if it ever gets made at all.