Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson star in The Beaver.

With her latest foray into directing, two-time Oscar-winning thespian Jodie Foster is braving untested waters by casting Mel Gibson as a depressed executive who overcomes his grief with the aid of a hand puppet.

Oh, and it’s a serious drama by the way.

“It very much could have (been a comedy),” said Foster of her new movie, The Beaver. “There’s a lot of other directors that could have focused on one (genre) at the exclusion of the other but I didn’t. It very much is a drama and yet it has a light touch to it.”

Indeed, that levity must have been inherent in the cleverly-written script  (voted the “best unproduced screenplay” of 2008) – a truth affirmed by the original interest of funnyman Steve Carell and Austin Powers director Jay Roach.

“They would have made an incredible movie which I would’ve loved to have seen,” admitted Foster. “Every director shapes their project. I also do very personal films and when you make a personal movie, you tend to download your whole life story onto the page.”

In this case, The Beaver is a touching drama that explores themes of family and loss. Gibson’s sobering performance may even supersede the controversy the actor has amassed lately. Besides, Foster hired the star before a personal domestic violence dispute became tabloid fodder and she hopes that notoriety won’t upstage Gibson’s performance.

“The actor brings everything to the table and casting is everything,” said Foster of Gibson – himself an accomplished actor-turned-director. “(Actor-directors) are the one person outside maybe the camera operator that understand why a scene works and why it doesn’t and that’s not something you can immediately explain to people.”

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