12th October 1997


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Lucius ‘Buddy’ Foster breaks the

Silence of the Fosters

There will be no more cosy thanksgiving dinners with his mother and three sisters. From now on, it seems, Jodie Foster’s only brother is on his own. "Mom did the damage control, and has had the family cut me off," he says, eyes blazing with anger. "They have excommunicated me."

Buddy FosterLucius "Buddy" Foster’s crime is to have published a no-detail-spared biography of his celebrated sister, the double-Oscar winning star and movie Director. "Everything was always, ‘You can’t do that to Jodie’. Everything was Jodie. We had to maintain the facade that the family was perfect.

"But you know what? I don’t regret doing the book. It has set me free. Instead of the hope of having my family, I have had the therapeutic experience of telling my story. For once, this isn’t just about Jodie. And I’m the one who has suffered."

This, it must be said, is not his sister’s view. Jodie Foster, at the pinnacle of Hollywood at the age of 35, broke her usual silence to damn her big brother’s efforts as a "cheap cry for attention and money". She and Buddy, she said, had become estranged because of his "severe dependence on drugs", his " violent outbursts" and his "constant" attempts to prise cash from their mother

There is now a family fight being conducted through the medium of print. How dare Jodie say that he is dependent on certain substances? He went sober in 1981. when he was 24, and although he is on target to make a million from his book, he is not in it for the money. Financially, he is doing fine with a construction company he owns in Duluth, Minnesota, where he has lived with his second wife for three years.

Jodie’s charge that he tries to get money from his mother has stung the hardest. After all, he was the first Foster child actor, and every cent he earned went to support the family. "I have never," he says, "asked my mother for more than $900 in my life, and that was a long time ago."

Has he written his book as an act of revenge, because "everything was Jodie"? "No," he answers. "It was more for redemption than revenge." He sighs. Buddy is a small man, with a distinct look of Jodie in his features, and a worried expression. He looks younger than his 39 years and has his blond hair cut in an absurdly boyish style.

He grew up with his three sisters in a family headed by his mother, Brandy, and her friend, "Aunt" Jo. Brandy, now 69, and his father, Lucius, an Air Force pilot, had fought viciously during their marriage. "Everybody was always yelling at everyone else, particularly Mom," says Buddy "We thought fighting and violence were normal ... It was always Mom throwing the plates and striking Dad."

By the time she was born, "Aunt" Jo had moved in. The children had first become aware of her in dramatic circumstances. They had been cowering during a parental battle, when suddenly a stout woman with cropped hair stepped from Mom’s bedroom and pressed a revolver to Dad’s temple. He left the house, and after that the two women lived together

He remembers endless beatings from his two older sisters. But his relationship with Jodie was both close and protective. When she was just a few months old, he climbed into her cot to push her down into the blankets while another battle raged, and whispered to her that she would be all right and that he would even teach her how to ride a bicycle. Jodie learnt to walk within a year, and would follow him everywhere, sometimes escaping through the dog-flap in the kitchen door to find him outdoors. Their dog, mesmerised by the smell of a nappy Brandy never got around to changing, was never far behind.

"When I was young, I thought it was her doing it to me," he admits, "but now I realise it wasn’t her fault. I withdrew from the family because it was too damaging," he says. "I was the black sheep simply because I was a boy, and Mom always had to compare me to the father that failed. I was a sensitive boy in a family of militant females who preached that you could never trust men, and I had the feeling that I had to be careful or I’d be castrated emotionally. "

During the years when Jodie became a star, she suffered her own traumas after a "stalker" shot at President Regan to impress her with his love - while Buddy was sliding into serious substance abuse.

He really doesn’t know some secrets of Jodie. But he wants to please. Jumping up from his seat, he measures out the size of the Paris flat where he once visited Jodi, while she was living with a crop-hair woman, 10 years her senior: It was just big enough for a double bed. (Alarmingly, he throws himself on the sofa, flinging his legs over my lap and his arm around my neck, and says: "They were like this very touchy-feely.") Then there was the dinner party at her house, at which three wild young women came to call, and Brandy scolded Jodie for letting them be seen.

He throws up his hands: "Hell, what does it matter? It is no big deal." Jodie’s problem, he believes, is that she is lonely. From her earliest days, she has been devoted only to "pleasing Mom" and is still in her thrall.

"I hope one day Jodie will announce that she is in love, with a man or a woman - I don’t care which," he says.

"I would just like to see her get the chance to share her life with another person. Now, it’s just Jodie and Mom. Very solitary."


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