Jodie Foster: Clarice Starling vs. Iris Steensma

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Clarice Starling

Silence of the Lambs won all the top Oscars for 1991, including a Best Actress Oscar for Jodie Foster. In addition, on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains” Clarice Starling is the highest-ranked heroine, slotted in the sixth spot overall on the list. All that high praise is definitely warranted for Foster’s portrayal of FBI trainee Clarice Starling who spars with incarcerated madman Hannibal Lecter while tracking down another serial killer currently preying on young women. Starling is vulnerable yet intelligent and formidable—Foster plays her to perfection.

The case for Iris Steensma

Jodie Foster was only thirteen when playing 12-year old runaway prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver. She acquitted herself quite admirably. That said, Clarice Starling was a much meatier role—if it ended there it’d probably be no contest which part was more iconic. But that’s not the case. Sadly, John Hinkley, Jr. became obsessed with the movie, and specifically Jodie Foster for whom he developed an dangerous infatuation. In a final misguided attempt to impress her Hinkley would endeavor to assassinate President Reagan, resulting in both an inescapable linkage between Foster and Hinkley and an indelible notoriety far beyond the silver screen for the character of Iris.

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!