Despite both of her parents, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, being movie stars, Jamie Lee Curtis wears her celebrity lightly. She was just 19 when her Hollywood career got a jump-start in 1978 in John Carpenter’s hit Halloween. She’s played Laurie Strode, the damsel stalked by the monstrous Michael Myers, six times since. Now — in October of course — Curtis is taking on the psychopathic slasher again in Halloween Ends.
Despite her reputation as the Scream Queen, Curtis’s career also spans drama, comedy, and action in movies like Trading Places, Knives Out, and True Lies, as well as the surprise global success Everything Everywhere All at Once, opposite Michelle Yeoh.
If Curtis is ambivalent about fame, it’s because she sees it as one way to make the things happen that are more important than making movies. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t loved growing Laurie Strode from a victim to a tough lady who’s ready for one more round with Michael Myers.
Jeanne Wolf: You are one of the most direct and honest people I know, yet I really don’t believe the title of your new film Halloween Ends. Is it really the last one?
Jamie Lee Curtis: Ending anything is very difficult, but there is an end of sorts. I am not allowed to say any more except that I think it’s very satisfying. It’s also tragic. It’s been 44 years since the first one, which seems kind of crazy to me. I scream in a whole different way. Ironically, I hate horror movies because I don’t want to be scared, especially living in a very scary time in the world. I scare easily, and I have my whole life. The last thing in the world I want to do is be frightened on purpose. But on the other hand, I love the way movies can manipulate your emotions. I’m an easy cry and I’m an easy shock. Maybe that’s why I’m good in Halloween, because it feels real to me.
JW: You are in the middle of so many things — acting and representing causes that you care for. You seem at such a high-energy-level time of your life. How do you explain this very positive, productive stage?
JLC: I simply didn’t believe in myself for a very long time. Then I started to wake up to the fact that I was probably going to die sooner than later and that my ideas had value. My success in Hollywood finally enabled me to do what I’ve been trying to do since I was a very young girl. Since I was a teenager, I was thinking of ideas for stories and movies, but I never was able to take the initiative as a producer. When I turned 60, I realized that the clock was ticking and maybe I could make things happen.
I was raised by a woman who was not only a movie star but philanthropic and very community-oriented. My mother worked with a group of women, wives of celebrities, who realized they had a lot of star power in their households. They put on a show every year called The Boomtown Party for an organization called SHARE, Share Happily and Reap Endlessly. And it raised money for the Exceptional Children’s Foundation. I’ve been watching that example from a very young age.
In my case, I started a website called My Hand in Yours (myhandinyours.com), which is an experiment in philanthropy; it’s a store where you buy items that I pay for. And then we just donate 100 percent of every sale to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, an institution I have supported for about 30 years now.
JW: You’ve obviously done a serious search for wisdom, and you seem to have found yourself in the process.
JLC: We’re all trying to manifest our destiny. The way we do it is we clear away the wreckage. We have a lot of societal imprinting telling us what to look like — if you wear this or buy this, this is how you’re going to feel. I’ve come out against the cosmetics industry and the beauty industry.
I’m the one that must wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, and I’m either looking at the problem in my life or I’m looking at the solution. It’s in me. It’s not going to be in somebody else. It’s not going to be from a face cream. It’s not going to be from a perfume. I look in the reality of the mirror in the morning, and I have an opportunity to go out there in the world and do my thing. But I do it with a truly solid understanding of who I am today and how old I am today. The clock is ticking. I have a lot that I want to do before I go. I’m trying to be a real person, and I want to get some stuff done. I’m a person with a purpose.
—Jeanne Wolf is the Post’s West Coast editor
This article appears in the September/October 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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