BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- On a night of surprises and laughs, the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards may be most memorable for a moving speech by actress Jodie Foster, who spoke emotionally of love, loyalty and career.
Accepting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, Foster spoke obliquely about her relationship with Cydney Bernard, her former partner of 20 years with whom she has two sons. Foster called her "my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consiglieri, [and] most beloved BFF of 20 years.
"I am so proud of our modern family," she added," as her two boys in the audience smiled.
The 50-year-old Academy Award-winner (for "The Silence of the Lambs" and "The Accused") has always been protective of her private life, and though she has not hidden her relationship with Bernard or her sexual orientation, she has not allowed it to be fodder for interviews.
Backstage, Foster explained why she had opened up: "The speech kind of speaks for itself. ... It's a big moment. I wanted to say what's most in my heart."
Foster had coyly opened up her remarks with, "I'm just going to put it out there, loud and proud. I am, uh, . . . single."
The audience laughter was followed with her alluding to her coming out: "I already did my coming out a thousand years ago, in the Stone Age," she said. "Those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually to everyone that knew her, everyone she actually met. But now apparently I'm told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a primetime reality show.
"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 so boring."
She added, "If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe then you, too, might value privacy above all else. Privacy.
"I have given everything up there from the time that I was three years old -- that's reality show enough, don't you think?
"There are a few secrets to keeping your psyche intact over such a long career. The first, love people and stay beside them." She gave a shout-out to her acting agent of 38 years.
Foster also paid tribute to her 84-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia. "Mom, I know you are inside those blue eyes somewhere," she said, "and that there are so many things that you won't understand tonight, but this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life, you're a great mom. Please take that with you when you're finally okay to go."
"This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else," she said in conclusion. Though Foster did not mention retirement, she alluded to a change in her career in which she "may be holding a different talking stick.
"Maybe it won't be as sparkly, maybe it won't open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle," Foster said, "But it will be my writing on the wall. 'Jodie Foster was here.' I still am. And I want to be seen, to be understood deeply, and to be not so very lonely."
Backstage, Foster reaffirmed that her career announcement did not mean retirement. "Oh no, I could never stop acting. You would have to drag me behind a team of horses."
Lena Dunham, who won the Best Actress in a TV Comedy Award for her HBO series "Girls," said, "I think that one of the most wonderful things about the speech that Miss Foster just gave was that it was really a complex, interesting assessment of what it's like to have a creative career over a long period of time. She wasn't trying to hand you one moral."
Jessica Chastain (who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress/Drama Award for the film 'Zero Dark Thirty"), told the Los Angeles Times, "I can tell you what I took from the speech, as an actress I struggle with the idea of privacy. ...The actors who I respect are the ones who try hard to keep their privacy, like Jodie Foster -- I think when an actor is able to do that the audience is better able to accept them in different roles."
Jane Fonda praised Foster's speech, calling it "mysterious" and "profound." "It was my favorite part of the evening," she told The Associated Press.
Mel Gibson, who was directed by Foster in the 2011 film "The Beaver," said his friend's appearance was typical of her: "Priceless and classy."
Bill Murray said the speech focused on love but also seemed to indicate a change ahead for Foster. "I back Jodie wherever she's going with this," he said.
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!"
Ricky Martin, who came out as gay in 2010, wrote on Twitter: Jody Foster On your terms. Its your time! Not before nor after. Its when it feels right!
Other tweets, by TV host Rosie O'Donnell: jodie foster - rather amazing speech
Comedian Kathy Griffin: I'm a big #JodieFoster fan, especially 2nite. Her speech tells LGBT youth: America has evolved, b proud of who u are!!
Actress Emmy Rossum: Jodie Foster is an inspiration. Incredible speaker. So moving.
Actor Alan Cumming: Aww Jodie foster, I would like to be your friend
Former MLB player Jose Canseco: Wow Jodie Foster at goldenglobes makes me want to join the lesbians
Mo Rocca: I feel that the Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson friendship sends a powerful message: People are complicated. #WorkingThroughJodie
But not all Twitter traffic was complimentary. Writer Bret Easton Ellis tweeted that Foster appeared drunk, "killed off her mother," and distilled her speech to " 'I want all of the good stuff and none of the bad stuff!' What is she? A three year-old lesbian?"
Bret Easton Ellis: The Hollywood hypocrisy is complete: Jodie Foster accepts her Lifetime Achievement award at The GG's and then demands PUBLIC PRIVACY...