Jodie Foster Says Man Brought Gun to Her College Play After John Hinckley Jr. Assassination Attempt

The actress gave rare comments about the "traumatic moment" in her life, recalling how the "world fell apart" at the time

<p>Getty</p> Jodie Foster at Yale University in September 1980


Jodie Foster at Yale University in September 1980

Jodie Foster is reflecting on trauma she endured in the aftermath of John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley, who was 25 at the time, shot Reagan in Washington, D.C. in what he later said was a quest to impress Foster, a child actress who was 18 at the time of the incident. Hinckley was eventually found not guilty by reason of mental illness and was committed to a hospital.

Speaking with The Bikeriders actress Jodie Comer for Interview magazine, Foster, now 61, revealed that the reason she'll probably never do live theater again is linked to the Hinckley connection.

"I’m finally able to admit that the one bit of theater I did when I was in college, there was so much trauma involved in it," said Foster, who went to Yale University in New Haven, Conn. "Well, just quickly, the play happened in two weekends, and I did the first weekend, and in between the first weekend and the second weekend, John Hinckley shot the president."

"... It was a huge moment. It was a long time ago. You probably don’t even know, but he shot him in order to impress me, and he had written letters to me, so it was a big moment in my life," said Foster.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty</p> Jodie Foster on March 10, 2024

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Jodie Foster on March 10, 2024

Related: Jodie Foster Says the Day She Turned 60 Was 'One of the Best' of Her Life: 'Suddenly Nothing Really Mattered'

"The world fell apart, there were Secret Service people everywhere, I had bodyguards, and I had to be taken to a safe house. And I was in the middle of these two weekends of this play, and I had the dumb idea of 'the show must go on.' So I was like, 'I have to do that second weekend,'" she recalled.

While performing in the aftermath of the assassination attempt, there were "people everywhere, cameras everywhere," she recalled.

"And," continued Foster, "there was a guy in the front row, and I had noticed that it was the second night that he’d been there, and I decided to, the whole play, yell, 'F--- you, m-----f---er!' I just decided that I was going to use this guy."

"And then the next day, it was revealed that this particular guy had a gun, and he had brought it to the performance, and then he was on the run," she continued.

<p>John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Museum of Contemporary Art</p> Jodie Foster on April 15, 2023

John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Museum of Contemporary Art

Jodie Foster on April 15, 2023

The Oscar winner added that then, while she was in one of her college classes, a "bodyguard guy came and threw me onto the ground while I was in the class, which was really embarrassing, because there were only 10 people there."

Said Foster, "It was a traumatic moment, and I’ve never admitted that maybe that has something to do with how I never wanted to do a play again. ... It was all part of that. I talked myself into loving theater and going to theater, but somehow feeling like I couldn’t make that commitment to ever do it again."

Related: Anthony Hopkins on What He Loves About ‘Very Cool’ Silence of the Lambs Costar Jodie Foster (Exclusive)

<p>RYAN M. KELLY/AFP via Getty</p> John Hinckley Jr. on Sept. 14, 2022


John Hinckley Jr. on Sept. 14, 2022

Hinckley is now 69, and he was fully released from court restrictions in June 2022. In an interview with CBS News in 2022, he apologized to the victims he shot in the assassination attempt and apologized to Foster for linking her to the incident.

"They probably can't [forgive me] but I wish they would," said Hinckley. "I feel terrible for what I did. And I've had remorse for many years for what I did. If I could take it all back I would. I swear, I would take it all back."

"I did not have a good heart. I was doing things that a good person doesn't do. So it's hard for me to at all relate to that person back then," he said about his mindset at the time. He added, "I truly believe I had a serious mental illness that was preventing me from knowing right from wrong back then."

In 1982, Foster wrote a first-person essay about the situation for Esquire titled "Why Me?" On the WTF? with Marc Maron podcast in 2021, she also reflected on the fallout of the incident, calling it a "weird moment in my life" and in history.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.