Jan. 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM ET
Jodie Foster delivered an emotional barn-burner of a speech Sunday night as she accepted the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, driving the audience to tears with some of the most intimate revelations of her 47-year career in show business.
In an era where, as she said, "Every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show," it turns out, she's "not Honey Boo Boo Child."
Instead, she teased a long-held rumor about her sexual orientation right out to the point of admission, still keeping a grip on her long-held privacy in this area. "I had a sudden urge to say something that I have never really been able to air in public, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about ... but I’m just going to put it out there, loud and proud. So, I’m going to need your support on this. I am ... single. Yes, I am, I am single."
The audience laughed, but Foster followed up quickly: "I’m kidding. No, I’m really kidding but I’m kind of kidding. This could have been a big coming out speech tonight. I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the stone age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, and co-workers and gradually probably to everyone who knew her ..."
She went on to thank her "heroic co-parent, my ex-partner-in-love, my righteous soul sister in life, my confessor ... most beloved BFF for 20 years, Cydney Bernard," acknowledging their partnership and sons (whose father(s) have never been named publicly) Charles and Christopher made up their "modern family."
And then she defended that long-held privacy with a light admonishment to the audience outside the Beverly Hilton: "Seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe then you too might value privacy above all else. ... I have given everything up there since the time I was 3 years old and that’s reality show enough, don’t you think?"
Foster got started early in show business, a seasoned TV actress with credits on "Gunsmoke" and the TV adaptation of the 1973 film hit "Paper Moon" when she began accepting roles in much more adult-themed films, including "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "Taxi Driver," in which she played a 12-year-old prostitute. The role has been freighted with controversy for her entire career, and so obsessed John Hinckley Jr. that he shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to get Foster's attention.
As she's grown up, Foster has released at least one film every year of her life, never taking an extended break. She segued into the occasional directing job with 1991's "Little Man Tate," and got behind the camera (and in front of it) for 2011's "The Beaver." Over the years, she showed a fearlessness with her no-genre-barred script choices, including the eerie "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" (1976), comedic western "Maverick" (1994), sci-fi "Contact" (1997) and suspense thriller "Panic Room" (where she played opposite a young Kristen Stewart).
But it was her vulnerable-yet-strong roles in films like "Silence of the Lambs" (1989) and "The Accused" (1992) -- both of which earned her best actress Oscars -- that ushered her in as a formidable, talented adult actress who remains today one of Hollywood's least-known, yet enduring performers.
Still, Foster wasn't done with the almost-revelations for the night, using her platform to address her mother Evelyn, who managed the young Jodie early on. Her comments seemed to indicate that her mother might be ailing; Foster noted, "Mom, I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things you won’t understand tonight, but this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you…. You did good in this life, and you’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go."
Many thought the two-time Oscar winner seemed to be also saying farewell to acting, though she later clarified to The Hollywood Reporter that she was not retiring from the profession.
"This feels like the end of one era, and the beginning of something else," she said. "Scary and exciting, and now what? Well, I may never be up on this stage again, on any stage for that matter.... I will continue to tell stories ... it’s just that from now on I may be holding a different talking stick. Maybe it won’t be as sparkly ... but it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here, I still am and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely..... Here’s to the next 50 years."