Jodie Foster came out without really coming out, and suggested she was retiring from acting without exactly saying so, in a long, breathless and rambling speech at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards.
"I was amazed at how inarticulate this articulate woman was," said Tom Tangney on KIRO Radio Seattle's Morning News.
Foster took the stage as this year's winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, which had been announced previously. But her acceptance speech was anything but predictable as the veteran actress seized control of what is every year a noisy, boozy ballroom; the crowd of A-listers quickly quieted down as it became apparent that she had something serious and important to say.
Tom said a Los Angeles Times reporter familiar with these types of events said the room went stone silent for Foster's speech.
The 50-year-old Oscar-winner for "The Silence of the Lambs" and "The Accused," who's been protective of her private life and reluctant to discuss her sexual orientation, was coy at first, suggesting she had a big announcement that would make her publicist nervous (the broadcast audio dropped out at this point, but for no apparent reason; nothing was said off-color). Then she stated: "I'm just going to put it out there, loud and proud ... I am, uh, single," pausing for dramatic effect before that last word. "I hope you're not disappointed that there won't be a big coming-out speech tonight. I already did my coming-out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age."
Foster joked that celebrities are now expected to reveal they're gay "with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show. And you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No. I'm sorry. That's just not me. It never was and it never will be. But please don't cry, because my reality show would be so boring."
She added defiantly: "If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you'd had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you, too, might value privacy above all else."
Foster thanked Cydney Bernard, a production manager whom she identified as "my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life," her former partner of 20 years, a relationship she never hid and from which she has two sons.
She also made it sound as if she planned to retire from acting once and for all, something she'd toyed with previously.
"This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else. Scary and exciting, and now what?" Foster said. "I may never be up on this stage again, on any stage, for that matter."
But backstage afterward, she clarified for reporters: "I could never stop acting. You'd have to drag me behind a team of horses. I'd like to be directing tomorrow. I'm more into it than I have ever been."
As for why she chose this place and time to discuss her private life, Foster explained backstage: "The speech kind of speaks for itself. ... It's a big moment. I wanted to say what's most in my heart."
Her revelation, vague as it was, nonetheless set Twitter on fire with reactions. Tom said he thought her composure during the delivery was so unlike her, he didn't know how to take it.
"I thought she was so hesitant and coy and nervous and kind of on edge. I'm not quite sure if that was the delivery that she wanted or not. I mean she's a practiced actress, she knew she was going to do this," said Tom. "That may have been by design but it made me uncomfortable."
Dave Ross said he was waiting for the orchestra to come in and bail her out, "But apparently when you get the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award you have carte blanche to talk as long as you want."
Jodie Foster's acceptance speech drew warm praise at one of the night's post-show parties.
"It was my favorite part of the evening. It was profound," Jane Fonda said at HBO's packed gathering. She called it "mysterious" and unexpected.
Some called her words moving and brave while others suggested that she should have done more to be a role model for lesbians.
Ricky Martin, who came out himself in 2010, tweeted: "Jody Foster On your terms. Its your time! Not before nor after. Its when it feels right."
And Amy Poehler, who co-hosted the Golden Globes with longtime friend and fellow comedian Tina Fey, cracked as she was signing off for the night: "We're going home with Jodie Foster!"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.