The two-time Oscar-winning actor, director and producer is best-known for her dramatic roles as Iris, the teenage prostitute in "Taxi Driver," FBI agent Clarice Sterling in "Silence of the Lambs" and, most recently, as a woman on a mission of revenge in "The Brave One."
Her latest effort is her first lighter portrayal in a dozen years, in the family comedy "Nim's Island."
She plays an adventure writer who's afraid to leave her own home, but who musters up the courage to travel to an isolated island for a "real" adventure trying to help a young fan, played by Abigail Breslin.
"Nim's" is also "a very powerful kind of girl-empowerment movie," Foster told co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show Thursday, adding that it's "a terrific adventure ... but (also) figuring out how to do it all on your own. She's got her machete and tool belt and she's riding a sea lion through the ocean. It's great!"
Foster calls her "Nim's" character "a neurotic. And, it's a whole lot of fun playing somebody so lame. I have to say -- it's a brand new thing. ... (I had to get in touch with) my inner-lameness!"
She points out that Nim's was right up her alley in many ways: "I love doing physical stuff. So, either doing physical dramas or physical comedies, it's all good to me."
To see photos from the film "Nim's Island," click here.
And Foster held nothing back in praising Breslin, who she says reminder her of herself as a child actress.
I love doing physical stuff. So, either doing physical dramas or physical comedies, it's all good to me.
"We definitely shared a similar lifestyle," Foster observed. "I see her - a gypsy-life, with her parents traveling to different countries and working at a young age.
"But she's different. She has this very powerful connection to her kind of inner-life that I did not have as a child. It took me many, many years as an actor to learn that. I don't think I was a natural actor. I think she was really born to be an actress."
Smoth read from an Arizona Republic story that quoted Foster as saying, "I'm not sure this is what I was meant to do in life. I think the skills i was born with are not necessarily so well-suited to being an actor. And I had to work to overcome that."
"Yeah," Foster remarked to Smith, "I think that's true. Well, you know, my natural way is to be quite stoic and to be very internal and to not live with my emotions on my sleeve. I don't like to stick out. I'm not interested in doing imitations and standing on a table with a lampshade on my head. It's not my way at all.
"I have these other skills, which is sort of how to take what's intellectual in my head and turn it into an emotional reality. I think that's what makes my style a little bit different than most people's."