JODIE FOSTER, you are totally harshing my mellow.

A minute ago, the woman whose acting career started with a part in a Coppertone ad playfully chided herself for being barefoot while welcoming me to her Fairmont Olympic Hotel suite. “I guess I should put on some shoes, huh?” she said, grinning sheepishly. Any anxiety I felt about interviewing the two-time Oscar winner was evaporating as she put on her heels one foot at a time (just like a normal person!), but then bam—she starts in with a soliloquy on spiritual crises and generational tension.

“I totally understand not wanting to be your parents and running as far from them as you possibly can,” she says somberly. “You’re trying to find some kind of intellectual plan as to how to escape them and how to escape this destiny that’s utterly trapping and horrible and suffocating.”

Okay, given the fact that she was in Seattle to promote The Beaver, her latest directorial effort, that shift from feet to family discord was forgivable. The movie follows a father (Mel Gibson) so hopelessly depressed that he adopts a beaver hand puppet as his personal spokesman and alienates his teenage son in the process. It’s heavy stuff, but surely we can mine that subject matter for something fun to chew on. What about the recent Wall Street Journal report that ranked Seattle the third most miserable city in the country? Maybe she’s got some lighthearted advice for dealing with existential ennui. “What we know is that there’s a tendency to become incredibly solitary and more and more reclusive,” she says, taking a sip of her Starbucks decaf latte. “Just realizing that you’re not alone can truly save you.”

That’s…great. But I just thought that report was funny and that it kind of fit with the whole “depression” theme of the movie. Anyway, Seattle’s a nice place to visit, don’t you think, Jodie?

“You know what I like?” she asks. “I know it’s in a different state, but I like Portland. I think Portland’s a great town.”

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