What were you doing when you were 15? How many movies had you appeared in? How many singles had you put out? How many books had you written? (Or read?)
That Jodie Foster, in 1977, was an unusual 15-year-old isn’t news. By that time she had already appeared in at least one box-office hit, Bugsy Malone, as well as arguably the most bracing and accomplished product of the New American Cinema ever committed to film, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. She was attending a French lycée which she once described to Andy Warhol in the pages of Interview thus:
It’s great, man. All the teachers are like 21 or 22 and have long hair and beards and everything. Being in this school, you don’t have to do anything.
A minute later Warhol offers Foster a Bloody Mary (she was 14 at the time). Foster may not have been “doing anything” at that lycée, but two things are clear: she was perfectly fluent in French by that time, and her education was at least good enough to enable her to attend Yale as well as become one of the top actresses in the world as an adult.
In 1977 Foster flirted briefly with pursuing a career in pop music. She released a couple of singles and made some appearances on French TV as a singer. She appeared on the soundtrack for a movie called Moi, fleur bleue (in America the title was Stop Calling Me Baby!) singing a song called “When I Looked at Your Face.” She released that track as a single and also put out another single called “Je t’attends depuis la nuit des temps.”
“Je t’attends depuis la nuit des temps,” which Google Translate, with startling eloquence, translates as “I’ve been waiting for you since the dawn of time,” was co-written by Pierre Delanoë, who wrote hundreds of songs during his career including many French translations for Petula Clark.
In the clip below, Foster sings “Je t’attends depuis la nuit des temps,” but through the skillful manipulation of “video magic,” three—count ‘em—three versions of Foster are superimposed on each other, such that she can be said to have sung as a trio with herself and herself.
One is struck by the fact that all three versions of Foster in the clip are wearing men’s clothes. If you Google pics of Jodie Foster as a teenager, it’s quite noticeable that she frequently favored a necktie or a bowtie (just as she does in the clip). Given her status as one of the world’s most famous closeted lesbians—or I guess she isn’t so closeted anymore?—it’s interesting to see these subtle signs of cross-dressing even as early as 1977.
It’s pretty much impossible for a clip like this not to be a little bit cringeworthy but really, my main takeaway is that Jodie Foster kicks ass here. She’s singing a song in French on French TV at the age of 15! That is just not your everyday achievement. Did you do this? Could you have?