Jamie Lee Curtis once played her way into the hearts of horror fans with her dramatic scream. In the interview, she looks back on the genre as her stepping stone and shares why, despite an illustrious career, she’s not “too good” for the “Halloween” franchise
The daughter of Hollywood stars Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis was born into the film industry on November 22, 1958, but she became an actress herself 20 years later by accident as Laurie Strode in the horror classic Halloween. Many other great successes followed, from “Die Glücksritter” and “Ein Fisch named Wanda” to “True Lies” and “Freaky Friday” to “Knives Out” or most recently “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. But Laurie Strode never got rid of Curtis, who is married to filmmaker Christopher Guest and has two adult daughters. In “Halloween Ends” (currently in cinemas) she plays the character a seventh and probably last time. We were able to have a video call with her.
Ms. Curtis, the first Halloween movie was released in 1978, now you play Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends for the seventh time. I’m sure you’ve done away with the series and Michael Myers time and time again over the years. Are you sure the goodbyes are final this time?
Actually, I was already certain that I would never stand in front of the camera for a “Halloween” film again. But then in 2017 David Gordon Green called me and told me about a new script he had written. Without telling me, by the way, that he had a trilogy in mind right away. I hesitated briefly at the time, because for me the topic was over. But I’m very glad I was persuaded because these three new films took a whole new turn in my career. Suddenly I have a completely different standing in the film industry: I’m a fucking boss now (laughs)! And that’s exactly why now is the right moment to say goodbye, even if it’s always difficult. For me, this chapter is now finally closed, which I am particularly pleased about because many new doors are open to me. And because I can’t imagine anyone having a better idea for this story than David.
What was the attraction of these three new “Halloween” films for you?
It will probably only be a few decades before we really realize what a genius David Gordon Green is and how much he had his finger on the pulse of the times. Or better: how he anticipated something with every film in this trilogy that then became a major social issue around the world. With “Halloween”, which was released in cinemas in 2018, but of course was written quite a while before, he kind of anticipated what happened not least in the course of #MeToo. Namely that women gave free rein to their anger and anger, that they no longer wanted to accept being victims. Speaking openly about what was done to them and empowering themselves again – what many women were finally doing at the time, Laurie Strode also did in the film.
Each part then took a slightly different direction…
Exactly, the second part was about civil riots and angry people who let their anger at the broken system run free with violence and vigilantism. And the new film tells about the fact that all people have the potential to become monsters and that evil is a toxic virus that – see social media – can infect anyone. You don’t often see so much socio-political clarity in the cinema. I’m still amazed at how David did it. And I’m amazed that “Halloween” movies can have something so important to say.
Jamie Lee Curtis (63) became internationally known through her early roles in so-called slasher horror films. In the meantime, she has expanded her repertoire and has received awards including a Golden Globe.
In addition to acting , Curtis, the daughter of Hollywood greats Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, is also an author and has published several children’s books.
In “Halloween Ends,” the thirteenth film in the popular “Halloween” franchise, Curtis reprises his role as Laurie Strode, one of the few survivors of cult villain Michael Myers’ murder spree. FR
Director John Carpenter directed the first film in 1978, and he gave you your first movie role. What role does he play in your career?
John Carpenter is the reason for everything I have in my life today. That’s no exaggeration. Everything in my life can be traced back to him. I can’t imagine what my career and everything else would have been like if he hadn’t given me that chance back then. That’s why, of all the people who wrote me kind words about Halloween Ends, it was John’s email that meant the most to me, in which he wrote very flattering things about my performance. To this day I owe him his debt. And that’s why he wants to start a campaign to have him nominated for an Oscar for the music to our new film, which he once again helped to write. After all, hardly any film melody is as iconic as that of “Halloween”.
You yourself have made a wide variety of films over the decades, but you never completely got rid of the image of the “Scream Queen”. Has that ever bothered you?
Why should I care? You say it yourself: Luckily I was never restricted to horror films, but was allowed to play many other great roles. And how could I have a problem with a designation that includes the word queen? Not that I look in the mirror in the morning and think I see a queen there. But hearing that from fans and others is enormously flattering.
Which films of your long career are you most proud of – apart from “Halloween”?
Of course there are many. But the most important ones were always those that gave rise to other projects. For example, thanks to Halloween and my other early horror films, I met John Landis, who then gave me a role in The Soldiers of Fortune. That was my first chance to show something different. And because John Cleese saw “The Soldiers of Fortune,” he wrote the role in “A Fish Called Wanda” for me. James Cameron, in turn, liked him, who then had me in mind for “True Lies”. These last two have always been particularly close to my heart, simply because these roles were specifically written for me. This gave me a special sense of freedom in front of the camera, which I think you can see in the films. It’s like a tailor-made suit that has been fitted exactly to your body. It also feels particularly comfortable in it.
To go back to “Halloween Ends” with the last question: would you like to write a book about your life like Laurie Strode is doing now?
No, I have no interest in that. Of course I know that there are really great autobiographies of actors. For example, my good friend Jennifer Gray wrote a wonderful, very insightful one. And in my life, in which I was given a lot of attention and I was able to celebrate wonderful successes, I have always been very open and honest, also in public. But a few things are welcome to remain private. At least I don’t like the idea of getting paid for something that also requires me to write about other people in my life and very personal moments with them. That’s why I just let it be.
Interview: Patrick Heidmann