After 40 years, Jamie Lee Curtis is again playing Laurie Strode in the new Halloween movie. If anybody is going get a kick out of the idea it’s Curtis. She just happens to be the most fun-loving no-nonsense kick ass person working in Hollywood today.
The daughter of iconic actors of the 1950s, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, she has more of her father’s personality even though it was her mother who brought her up.
Though she’s been crowned the Scream Queen thanks to her many horror movies, she’s excelled in other roles notably James Cameron’s True Lies and John Cleese’s A Fish Called Wanda.
In addition, the actress – who turns 60 next month – is a successful author of children’s books, an acknowledged activist, and a proud recovering opioid addict.
She’s married to British humorist Christopher Guest and they have two adopted children – Annie and Thomas.
“It’s a movie about trauma,” said Curtis on what convinced her to do Halloween. “If any of you have ever lived through trauma or has a family member who has trauma, it isn’t just you or the family member, it’s generational.
“So I just thought it was an amazing way to tell the story of Laurie and tell it through her eyes, then her daughter’s, and ultimately her granddaughter’s.
“You know, life’s a little scary. I live in America. This sh*t’s getting real. I may not have survived a trauma the way Laurie Strode has, but I don’t know a human being that hasn’t suffered a trauma. It’s universal, it’s part of being human. I’m very lucky that I’ve never been to war. I have not been a soldier. I’m not a police officer. I’m not a fire fighter. I’m an actor.
“Life is tough for everybody. That’s why we go to the movies. That’s why we need the release of a movie like this so we can come together and scream and laugh and then go home and get some sleep.”
High school kids are the biggest fans of horror movies. What was your high school like?
I don’t think anyone has ever gotten through high school without a lot of pain. I think it’s the nature of high school. For me, high school was about betrayal. It’s the beginning of a sort of opening yourself up, emotionally, sexually, socially.
It’s the beginning of the betrayal of your adult life, which ironically you put out there yourself. You kiss a boy and all of a sudden, everybody knows you kissed a boy. Or you try something out to find out “Is this who I am?” And then you get laughed at for it.
So for me high school was filled with shame and embarrassment, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Did having famous parents contribute to that betrayal?
It was more about that feeling of inadequacy that happens to all young people. I was quite shy at that time. You just don’t know who you are.
And you are struggling to figure it out and be comfortable in your own skin. I mean, you may feel comfortable in a beautiful green suit. I know I shouldn’t wear a green suit. Green doesn’t complement me. I didn’t really know what complemented me – physically and emotionally.
I didn’t know what I needed specifically to be happy. And so I was just trying really hard to be like a lot of other people.
I don’t think my famous parents were really the issue. That was not the hobbling of my childhood. It was just the natural evolution of a young woman’s development into her own body and mind.
At the time did you think of yourself as a beauty?
Certainly not in high school. I was one of those people who wanted to be anybody but myself.
If I’d see somebody wearing a yellow blouse, I’d think, “That looks so pretty,” and I would go out and buy a yellow blouse, and then I’d wear for a while, and then one day I’d put it on and look in a mirror and go, “Oh, my god, I look terrible in a yellow blouse.” And so I’d give it away.
I would do that with hairdos and clothes. It’s really only in the last 10 years or so that I have found out what I am and who I am and what I look like and what I don’t look like.
Did sobriety help?
Honestly, I think getting sober – although, it’s not a thing I like to talk about – was a metamorphosis for me.
Not because I was so out of control.
But just because that moment changed everything for me, where I finally was like, “It’s OK. Just acknowledge it and move on.”
And then it all just fell into place. I only hope that it continues from here on in.
How about ageing, is that a concern?
You know what, honestly, I don’t really care. I’ve learned that that’s not up to me. What’s up to me is that before I go to bed every night I make sure that I’ve done what I’m supposed to have done that day.
Whatever that is. And to the best of my ability. The rest of it is none of my business. That’s been a great growth for me.
What did it take to become Jamie Lee Curtis?
I think developing your own mind and actually finding out that you have your own mind, that it’s not your mother’s, it’s not your father’s, it’s not your husband’s, it’s not your boyfriend’s, it’s not your daughter’s, it’s yours.
There’s something so exciting about that. For some reason, it took me a long time to realise that.
As I said, I really wanted to just copy everything and everyone, thinking that if I just looked like you or I behaved like you or whatever … If I read the book that you read, I would then somehow be better.
And what I’ve now learned is everyone is a contradiction.
There is not one person who is just one thing. We are all a big mix of stuff. And the word integrity now means something more to me than anything.
If there’s any word that I would hope would be attached to me when I’m gone, it’s integrity. And you don’t get that by trying to be other people.
You get that only from facing the difficulties and positive things that happen to you. And then wearing it like a big banner across your chest.
How do you see people?
Critically. It’s probably my biggest flaw as a human being. I’m hyper-critical. And I make snap judgments.
As you all know, I married my husband after seeing his picture in a magazine. I swear on my life that I opened a magazine and went, “Oh, I’m going to marry him.” And I married him 4½ months later.
I left my number for him, and he never called me. I left my number with his agent and he never called me. Then I ran into him in a restaurant, and five months later we were married.
We actually saw each other on June 28. We went out July 2, and we got married Dec 18.
What did you see in the picture that convinced you?
Hard to tell. He had a smirk. The little you guys know of my husband, he’s not a man of a lot of words.
Until he’s wearing somebody else’s clothes. And then he’s out there. But when he’s just wearing his own clothes, he doesn’t say a lot. And there was something about that. I don’t know.
But it’s hard to talk about your own essence about something, about your own instinct about something.
In that case my snap judgment worked for me, but it can be a detriment, because I might judge you when you were cranky.
So I’ve tried really, really hard in the last few years, to suspend my judgment of people and to just accept people for who they are.