In all her years acting and all of her iconic roles, Jodie Foster has only twice played a character based on a real person—first in the 1999 adaptation of Anna And The King, and this year in Kevin Macdonald’s The Mauritanian. The actor relishes the opportunity to build a character from script up, but the legal drama gave her the unique opportunity to meet with her role’s inspiration, criminal defense lawyer Nancy Hollander, who’s made a name for herself with high-profile cases like the one depicted in the film. Adapted from Mohamedou Ould Salahi best-selling memoir, Guantanamo Diary, The Mauritanian tells the story of Salahi’s 14 harrowing years in a detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and the impending courtroom battle to bring him justice. In a conversation with The A.V. Club, Foster shares what she learned from Hollander, reveals how her character differs from the real-life woman, and sings the praises of her co-star Tahar Rahim.
The Mauritanian is now playing in select theaters.