Jodie Foster says the combination of real drama and meaningful action were what drew her to the project. "When I first read it, it was a really cool satire," she says. "It evolved from there. We spent a couple of years developing the screenplay, bringing in technology, the financial world right now, media and how all of those things dovetail. That changed everything."

Jodie Foster on the set of Money Monster with Julia RobertsJodie Foster on the set of Money Monster with Julia Roberts

She calls it the kind of movie studios rarely make anymore, and she says that's what makes it feel fresh. "It goes back to the old-school way of doing things," Foster says. "There are lots of turns that are unexpected. It's a general-public movie that's a taut thriller. I think you have an idea of what that's going to be, with big movie stars, but I just wanted to make the movie I wanted to make."

The movie she wanted to make is smaller and more intimate, as the film explores how frightened people are of failure, and also how they react when they face it. Both Clooney's and O'Connell's characters are in this position. "I'm fascinated by people in spiritual crisis, in a moment in life of total self-hatred," Foster says. "If Mother Teresa is propelled to do good works because she believes in God, I am propelled to do good works because of how bad I feel about myself! It's the first place I go: 'Oh, what did I do wrong?'"

The trick was to balance these ideas within a movie that's also an entertaining romp. "I think people are sick of entertainment that really is just about grabbing their ticket sales," she says. "Maybe this is an alternative. It has a lot of resonance about the modern world, and all that stuff is meaningful to me. Then I wake up and go, 'Wow, I made a popcorn movie!'"

In an acting career that has spanned more than 45 years (she had her first role at age 6 in 1969), Foster has also directed four movies, plus episodes of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. And she says she has no idea what she'll do next. "It's terrible," she laughs. "I'm not a multi-tasker. This film has been hard, so I'm really looking forward to doing nothing. After that, I don't know."

Watch the trailer for Money Monster: