Garner and Foster Relish Roles in `Maverick'

JAMES GARNER and Jodie Foster are nearing the end of an exhausting day of interviews.

The two actors are an oddly matched set. Garner admits he's on the far end of his success, while Foster, a former child star, is just now hitting her stride as one of the hottest leading ladies in the business. Garner has mellowed over the years. Foster is a bit watchful, even wary.

And each faces the interview grind pragmatically. Both agree that ``Maverick'' was a joy to work on. Garner elaborates: ``Working with the cast members was like being at a reunion. The supporting cast was full of guys I knew from the old days when we were making all those television westerns.... We caught up on everything, reminisced a lot....''

Foster, who signed on to make ``Maverick'' just two weeks before the cameras rolled, says it was a welcome chance to act in a comedy: ``I loved doing my character, `Annabelle.' She gave me a chance to give vent to my sense of humor, which is sassy and a bit nasty, not sweet, like Mel [Gibson]. I loved debunking the myth of the `femme fatale you know, the woman who's passive, helpless, and speaks in those funny accents and takes advantage of everybody. Hey - she's a con artist! Annabelle thinks she's so dignified - `How dare you!' she says - and then she walks into a door or falls on the ground. She's pretending to be a lady, and the truth is she's vulgar and a klutz....

``In all, it was the best experience I've ever had making a movie, the happiest I've ever been on a project, including any of my own,'' Foster says. ``And I'd never been to any of these locations, like the Sierras and the Columbia River and areas around the Grand Canyon. I've traveled all over the world, but I've never been to these American locations. I just went completely crazy, hiking every weekend, camping, and sailing.''

Garner and Foster have different stakes in ``Maverick.'' ``I found out years ago that if you ease off, they forget you in 12 minutes,'' Garner says. ``You have to keep going. The public's fickle. They forget you in no time.''

Foster says making a commercial picture like ``Maverick'' is an important boost to her dream of maintaining her own independent production company, Egg Productions. ``I'm able to keep pursuing roles and projects of my own choosing,'' she says.

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