Take a Trip to “Nim’s Island” with Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin

by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor – The Dove Foundation

Jodie Foster, the Academy-Award winning actress, is appearing in the upcoming family film, “Nim’s Island” along with Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler.  We had an opportunity recently to speak with both Jodie and Abigail about their roles in this great family movie.

We started with Jodie and her enthusiasm for this new film was apparent.

We noted that Jodie’s character in this film is so different from her last role in which she played a woman who becomes a vigilante after her fiancée is killed by a gang. “It must have been fun playing a totally different character,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s a blast, I love it,” she replied. “I mean I’m psyched. I was looking for a character to explore a sort of lighter side of myself and it’s taken me a long time to find one. I’ve been looking for a comedy again since ‘Maverick’ fifteen years ago.”

In “Nim’s Island” Jodie plays a writer named Alexandra Rover who writes about the adventurer Alex Rover. Alexandra is not the swashbuckling hero that Alex is. In fact, she suffers from agoraphobia and never leaves her home.  She has some comedic moments when she spots a spider on her computer, and  when she ventures out for the first time in a very long while.

We asked Jodie if the spider was CGI and she replied, “No, no, no, that was a real spider! He was there. Now there were some moments where he was not cooperating. And I think we had to draw on some black– he would go off in a direction we didn’t want him to go off in.”

We asked Jodie what she liked about her role and she said, “Oh, lots of stuff. I love the fact I’m playing her as this woman who is trying to find this heroic side to herself. She’s lived in this very solitary creative environment and it’s quite nourishing but at the same time it’s lonely.  And the funny thing is that same situation in which I’ve been involved in dramas for years.” She sees the parallel of her role as the young woman who wants to be an adventurer but has been a recluse, compared to Jodie Foster the actress who does dramas but wouldn’t mind doing some comedy.

We said that her role in arriving at the island was hilarious because she is out of her element. “Oh yeah,” she replied, “running around like a silly person in that forest and scared of everything. It’s outrageous to make movies in which you poke fun at yourself.”

We asked what it was like working with Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler. “Gerry, he’s a goof; he’s a goon—he’s so much fun.  He’s very goofy and giggly and he makes everybody laugh all the time. I think it was an opportunity for him also to poke fun at the drama characters that he usually plays.”

Jodi used the word “wonderful” in describing Abigail Breslin. “Clearly there are sides to myself that I see in her because we lived the same life, traveling around with our parents and living life on the set with film crews—she’s a great professional, she’s very well adjusted.  She’s much more of a natural actress than I was at her age. She has found this well of emotion and she has total access to it and I will have to say I did not have it at her age.”

We asked Jodie who she has enjoyed working with over the years and she said, “Robert DeNiro is pretty good, ‘Taxi Driver’!  That was a big highlight in my life—making a film with him, and ‘Maverick’ (with Mel Gibson).  As the years have gone on I do a lot of movies where I’m on my own, where I don’t have a counterpart, or a lot of opportunities to work with a lot of other actors.

In closing we asked Jodie if she consciously chose to make a family film or if she liked the role and she replied, “It was kind of a combination of both. I had been looking to play something lighter and to find a lighter side of myself. I had to kind of knock down the door for this one. I told them I wanted to make the movie and the directors were on my side but the studio at the time was really not sure if it would be such a good idea. We had to wait until the financing kind of fell out and they revisited their financing and then I knocked on the door some more and came aboard.”

Abigail Breslin, who turns twelve this month, was in the Dove “Family-Approved” films “The Ultimate Gift”, “The Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause”, and recently appeared in “Air Buddies”.

I began by telling her how much I enjoyed her as “Emily” in “The Ultimate Gift.” “Thank you,” she said sincerely.  We asked Abigail if she chose “Nim’s Island” because it was another family film, or what appealed to her about the role of Nim.

“I liked Nim a lot,” she replied. “I thought she was just really cool and she took care of her island and she was always up for adventure. I just really liked her.”

I told Abigail that Jodie Foster had said Abigail reminded her of herself as a young actress, but that she believed Abigail had more natural ability.  I asked Abigail what it was like working with Jodie Foster.

“You know that’s just like Jodie to say nice things about everybody,” said Abigail. “She’s really, really nice,” said Abigail. “She was just really nice to work with. We had a lot of fun.”

We wanted to know what it was like working with Gerard Butler and she said, “He’s really fun. We made a swear jar and he swore a little bit and had to pay the swear jar! But I think he learned his lesson! “

“What did you most enjoy about your role as Nim?”

“I really just liked that she had all her animal friends. I thought that was really cool because I really like animals, so I thought that was fun. The first thing I asked the directors was — are they going to be real animals or not, and they said the animals were real!”

We told Abigail that it seemed her character kind of brings everyone together in the film. “I guess so,” she replied. “I think it’s cool that they’re all in different places. Alexandra’s in her apartment in San Francisco , Nim’s on her island, and then her dad is somewhere — we really don’t know where. I thought that was kind of cool.”

I asked Abigail what challenges she faced in getting the film made.

“Well, I don’t really like doing crying scenes, that’s one thing that I don’t like doing. Another thing that wasn’t really hard, it was just kind of scary, the sea lion ‘Friday’ was standing one day and I was on the bench with one of the lizards ‘Steve’, and all of a sudden ‘Friday’ jumps up and he starts putting his head on top of the lizard and it kind of looked like he was going to eat it. I guess to him the lizard kind of looked like fish. And so we all sort of jumped a bit!”

It is safe to say that this incident Abigail described doesn’t happen at a lot of jobs!

Abigail will next appear in “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl”. “It’s about a girl growing up in the depression,” said Abigail. She expected to enjoy the role and another film which will soon premiere with Abigail is “My Sister’s Keeper” in which she appears with Cameron Diaz.

In the meantime, you can see Jodie and Abigail light up the screen as “Nim” and “Alexandra” in “Nim’s Island”, our Dove “Family-Approved” Film and a great adventure.

Read Dove’s Review of “Nim’s Ilsand