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Jodie Foster sees herself in Abigail Breslin

Breslin and Foster, who started acting when she was 3, recently spoke about their similarities and the strange world of child actors.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jodie Foster grew up on-screen in the 1970s, acting beyond her young 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,” opening Friday, a film adaptation of the 2002 children’s book by Australian Wendy Orr. 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 and Foster, who started acting when she was 3, recently spoke with The Associated Press about their similarities and the strange world of child actors.

AP: Did you see a little of yourself in Abigail?

Jodie Foster: When Abigail first came, 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. She’s a real city kid and even in my life, I grew up with just my mom and my mom didn’t like bugs and didn’t like dirt or anything. So we never went camping. ... We never did stuff like that. I don’t think Abigail had ever actually swam. I hope it’s swam and not swum. I went to French school so I have bad American grammar. I’m not sure she had ever just dived into the ocean. So just things like that — to be able to start the movie and wonder how that was going to be. 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 great. 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.

AP: 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. You kind of get the lay of the land and you’re in your hotel room. You’ve got your milk in your mini-fridge. And you’ve got your stuff. 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. You have a real task and you have to get up at 5 in the morning. You have to learn your lines and there are things that you have to accomplish, and yet within that there’s such spontaneity and fun. The combination of those two, I think those are things that we’ve really shared together.

AP: Has your acting experience changed as you’ve gotten older?

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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. So it’s kind of weird to be like two different people, and I think that’s kind of fun.

AP: Abigail, what did you learn about acting 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.