Is Claire Foster Based on an Actual Friend of Paul Child?

During Julia Child’s early career as a celebrity chef, as depicted in the dramatized Max show ‘Julia,’ the woman faces a few hurdles on her path to rapidly rising stardom. From problems surrounding the production of her cooking show, ‘The French Chef,’ to the complications it proposes in her personal life, Julia’s life certainly needs time to adapt to its new reality. Julia’s loving marriage with her husband, Paul Child, is one such aspect.

While Paul and Julia have a healthy marriage where they respect and support each other through every season of life, the man requires some time to adjust to the sudden change that his wife’s new life brings. In order to do so, Paul ends up finding unexpected help from an old acquaintance, Claire Foster. Thus, it’s only natural for viewers to wonder about the character and her basis in reality, especially in connection to the real-life Child couple.

How Is Claire Foster Related To Paul Child?

Within the ‘Julia,’ Claire Foster is depicted as Paul Child’s old friend. The duo’s relationship is built on the close connection each shared with a woman named Edith Kennedy, the former’s mother, and the latter’s ex-romantic partner. Despite the conclusion of Paul’s relationship with Edith, for yet unspecified reasons, the man holds her in his memories with fondness, suggesting an amicable separation. Likewise, as Edith’s daughter, Claire has much love for the woman.

Therefore, even after Edith’s passing, Claire and Paul continued to remain in touch with each other. As such, when the latter finds himself facing untrodden problems in his marriage with Julia, he seeks out Claire’s company. The time the two spend together is passed by reminiscing about Edith and conversing about their personal problems.

Going by this depiction of Claire Foster in the show, the character can have some roots in reality but without any firm connections to a traceable real-life counterpart. According to sources, namely Maren Robinson’s study guide to a play about Julia Child, ‘To Master the Art,’ Paul Child had a 17-year-long relationship with Edith Kennedy. The woman, ten years older than Paul, died of cancer a few months before the man began his journey with the OSS.

Similarly, in a conversation with The Things, actor David Hyde Pierce, who essays the role of Paul in ‘Julia,’ talked about his character and the research that went behind his performance. “In reading other people’s accounts of him [Paul Child], they talk about him as a ladies’ man. He had lots and lots of women he had affairs with, and two women — Edith Kennedy and Julia — who he was deeply and romantically and physically in love with.”

Therefore, it is likely that the creative team behind ‘Julia’ conjured Claire Foster’s character as a way to bring Paul’s past to the forefront and explore a specific aspect of his character. Even though the existence of a woman named Claire Foster, as Edith Kennedy’s daughter, cannot be confirmed or denied, her character’s connection to Paul Child’s real-life ex-girlfriend remains.

Claire Foster and Jane Foster

While Claire Foster’s in-universe connection to Paul, as an old flame’s daughter, remains, viewers can find one other potential link between her character and a real-life individual. Jane Foster Zlatovski, described as a free-spirited artist, was an OSS Agent who developed a friendship with the Child couple during their time in the organization.

Like Claire Foster, Jane also grew up in San Francisco. However, aside from their shared last name, acquaintance with Paul Child, and roots in San Francisco, the women don’t seem to have many other points of connection. In fact, in the show, Claire references a close relationship with an individual named Peter. Inversely, in real life, Jane was married to George Zlatovski.

Furthermore, Jane’s career in the OSS, which fans can read extensively about in the book, ‘A Covert Affair,’ by Jennet Conant, isn’t shared by Claire’s character, at least so far in her one-off appearance in the show. Ultimately, although Claire’s character can have a possible connection with the former woman, the same seems unlikely.

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