Jamie Lee Curtis Talks the End of ‘Halloween,’ Her Number One Piece of Advice, and Rapping With Lindsay Lohan

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Jamie Lee Curtis is deep in the promotional cycle for Halloween Ends, the supposed final chapter of a horror franchise that’s played a pivotal role in her life ever since she was 19 years old. But on this day in mid-August her mind is somewhere else: the little message on Zoom that notifies you when a conversation is being recorded. “It says ‘Got it,’ which, don’t you feel is a little casual?” she asks. “What I’m concerned about is Zoom’s assumption that I’m down with it all — that I’m totally groovy with it. They’ve never met me, Zoom.”

I haven’t met her, either, until now. The 63-year-old actress is on her bed in a cozy, wood-paneled room, in what she describes as an “undisclosed mountainous location.” She’s lying on her side with her head in her hands, her black long-sleeve shirt in stark contrast to the ivory bedding. It’s this laid-back posture — as well as what she says next — that confirms she is, indeed, down with it all: “Have you ever heard Al Yankovic’s brilliant ‘Word Crimes’ song?”

Halloween Ends, out Oct. 14, is the final installment to writer-director David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy that follows up the original 1978 movie as if the other nine sequels — most of which are barely watchable — never existed. Curtis spoke to us about playing Laurie Strode for the final time, the only line she’s ever improvised in her 45-year career, and why she thinks giving advice is hostile. 

Is Halloween: Ends really the end for your character Laurie Strode?  
I thought it was the end years ago. The last thing in the world I thought I would ever do again was a Halloween movie. [Then] I was sitting in my house and the phone rang, and it was Jake Gyllenhaal. He said, “Hey, my friend David [Gordon Green] would like to talk to you.” Now, I’ve made three of them in five years. 

It is the end of this trilogy, for sure. And yet this year is my Beatles birthday [64], and I feel more alive than I have ever felt. So to assume that in 10 years I won’t feel even more alive would then bring a question of, “Well, why not?” 

Why do you feel more alive than ever?
Wow. That’s the heaviest question that there’s no quick answer to. There are a lot of factors. I’m considering writing a book called Die Alive, which has become a bit of a rallying cry for me. I want to die very creative. Whatever moment of clarity happens for people when you realize you have zero time to waste — for me, it really hit at 60. “If not now, when? If not me, who?” I realized that I’ve been a creative person since I was 18 years old, and there’s been a lot in my head that has not come out. I have movie and TV show ideas. I made a short Super 8 film, which was about a botanist whose wife was eaten by her house plants. I have shit in my head! [Laughs.] If I died without releasing all that creativity, that’s the real tragedy. It lit a fire under me.

JLC in the original ‘Halloween,’ in 1978. © Compass International Pictures/Everett Collection

Another title for your book could be your line from Freaky Friday, “Make good choices.”
“Make good choices” is the only line in my life I have ever improvised. It was the first day of shooting [and] we were at Palisades High School. I had a five-year-old son at home and a 15-year-old daughter. I pulled up dropping her off at school, and for some reason that popped out of my mouth. What it really stands for is, make brave choices. Bring your ideas out into the world. They’re yours. They are only yours. 

Freaky Friday was released almost 20 years ago. Why do you think it still resonates with young people?
Because everybody struggles with that conundrum of adulthood and youth. We all judge both sides really harshly. It’s that old adage of, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” Freaky Friday is one of those great examples of, you’re challenging somebody because they make you angry because of their limitations. And then you walk in their shoes and recognize that, in fact, all of those restrictions are there for a reason. 

Your co-star in that movie is Lindsay Lohan, and you two have such a strong chemistry in the film. Do you still speak to her?
We do. When I have relationships with famous people, and I get a text from that person out of the blue, I’m very protective. “Hey, Jamie, it’s so-and-so.” I understand there’s a lot of bullshit out in the world, and a lot of fakery, and people pretending to be people. So, I have secret questions. I go to my secret question right away so that, if they answer it, I know it’s them. And if they don’t, I know it’s a fishing expedition.

What is your secret question for Lindsay?
If I tell you this, then I’m going to have to come up with another for her. But my question, up until today, for Lindsay is, “What was the song that we were both trying to learn the rap to in the car when we were shooting the car scene?” And that would be the Justin Timberlake song “Like I Love You.” There’s a rap in the middle of it by Clipse, and the two of us were sitting in the car starting and stopping the tape player — that’s how long ago it was — learning, “Ma, what you want to do? I’m in front of you/Grab a friend, see I can have fun with two.” 

Do you have another secret question for someone else you can tell me? 
I have one for Daniel Craig. If for some reason Daniel texted me, I would say, “What was the last gift you gave me?” But I’m not going to tell you what it is, because then I would have to change that with him. It’s something only he would know. 

When you were labeled a “scream queen” after Halloween, was there comfort in knowing your mom Janet Leigh had gone through a similar experience after starring in Psycho?
Oh, totally. It’s probably the greatest benefit to having been raised in show business, that I was aware that can become a problem. So there was a conscious moment of saying I wasn’t going to do any more of those [types of films]. It’s probably the only time in my life that I’ve ever made a big choice as a performer to not go into that kind of work again. 

Being the child of celebrities is a double-edged sword: You have an advantage, but you constantly have to prove yourself. At what point do you think you established yourself as an actress?
That’s the great news: I don’t think I have. I go into everything brand-new, wide open. I don’t understand why I’ve been able to do this for such a long time. I don’t think I ever will. But I don’t think that’s my job, to understand it. It’s my job to just do it. And I’ve been really lucky to do it in all sorts of areas — good things, bad things, commercial things, failures, high-profile things, zero-profile things. TV commercials for yogurt that makes you shit. TV commercials for L’eggs pantyhose. TV commercials for big-screen TVs. TV commercials for phones. TV commercials with O.J. Simpson for Hertz. 

Somewhere back in the day, when I was a young woman, somebody recognized that I could sell things. Because of the movie Baby Boom, women were in the marketplace as business executives, and they needed someone to represent that demographic. They wanted that person to be funny and physical. And for whatever reason, whatever movie of mine had come out prior to that, someone said, “Well, what about her?” 

Is it true that during the making of Perfect, the 1985 movie where you played an aerobics instructor, you were working out four hours a day?
No. The truth of the matter is I didn’t work out that much at all. I didn’t eat a lot, but I’m not a worker-outer kind of girl.

There’s been a trend of Eighties movies being revived in the last few years, from Coming 2 America to Top Gun: Maverick. Do you ever see a Trading Places sequel?
I would, sure. It would be a wonderful opportunity to be with those people again, for sure. And everybody involved, obviously except for the older guys, is still alive and working. 

I’d like to believe that there are some new ideas out there. The best news for me is that the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once came out this year, which is very much a whole new idea in filmmaking and storytelling. And so I would always lean toward something new and creative versus an old, retread idea. But if they called me and said they were going to make a movie with Danny [Aykroyd] and Eddie [Murphy] again, I would certainly. I would love to know where Ophelia ended up.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 
I don’t like to give advice, because to give advice is hostile. You’re making an assumption that your ideas are better than somebody else’s. It’s really none of my fucking business. 

Here’s the best advice I will give anybody that isn’t mine. There is a book by a writer named Marisha Pessl called Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Everybody has this image of the way life is supposed to go, and she posits, “Life hinges on a couple seconds you never see coming. What you do in those seconds determines everything from then on, and you won’t know what you’re going to do until you’re there.”

It spoke to me so clearly, because every single thing in my life, good and bad, has hinged on a couple seconds I didn’t see coming. I saw my husband’s picture in Rolling Stone magazine, and said to [Halloween writer] Debra Hill, “I’m going to marry that guy.” I pointed to a picture of Chris [Guest, the writer-director-actor who is Curtis’ husband of 37 years], Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean standing next to each other in 1984. Then I turned the page, and it was a picture of them from Spinal Tap. It was probably in the [May] edition with Cyndi Lauper on the cover.

Sitting on my couch on 1416 North Havenhurst Drive in West Hollywood, I went, “Oh, I’m going to marry that guy.” And Debra said, “Oh, he’s an actor. His name is Chris Guest. He’s with your agents.” I called his agent and left my number. He didn’t call me. I then dated somebody else. I broke up with that person. I then picked up Melanie Griffith — my still bestie friend — and her husband, Steven Bauer, and we went to Hugo’s Restaurant in West Hollywood and sat down. And two tables away was Chris, facing me. 

That was June 28th, 1984. We went out July 2nd, 1984. He left to do Saturday Night Live for a year, August 8th, 1984. I was making Perfect in Los Angeles from August to December, 1984. And Chris and I got married December 18th, 1984. My life hinged on a couple seconds I never saw coming. Every opportunity, stay open to it, and look what happens. 

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
My instinct is always to crack a joke, and then my other instinct is I start to cry. Because being young was really hard for me [breaks into tears]. I think it’s hard to be young. I would say become very comfortable with being alone, because you’re going to be alone so much of your life. When you’re young, you’re never alone. And then you become an adult, and you’re alone with your own mind and your own thoughts a lot.

In 1985, we printed your yearbook quote from 1976: “Weirdness is a virtue that only some can project successfully. My bosoms aren’t big, but they’re mine.”
I know, I know. I read that now and it’s heartbreaking. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have my own mind. And some of that comes back to haunt you later as some sort of example of yourself.

I read a thing yesterday in that Millie Bobby Brown story. It was that quote [she had] about people hating you before you know who you are. It brings tears to my eyes right now. We put so much pressure on youth to have this clarity of who they are in that moment. So here’s my advice for young people. This is real advice. Don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments, because they are deadly and people just want to hurt you. This portal of hatred and vile jealousy and trollers’ insecurities. And you’re not supposed to take that personally as a teenager?

I have a firewall between me and them. I am entitled to a private life. Don’t give me this bullshit that because I’m a public person I have no privacy. I have a public version of me, and I do that as well as anybody has ever done it in the history of show business. I’m really good at it. And then I have a very private side of me that you’re not allowed into.

Chris is also extremely private. 
It has been a challenge in my marriage, because I’m a very public person. I was raised by movie stars. I understand that job, and I do that job well. But I’m married to somebody who believes that there should be total privacy at all times. He does not choose to have a public life, and I respect him for it, although it can be challenging.

Do you think that has also helped your marriage last as long as it has, especially being in Hollywood?
The truth of the matter is, I only know of long marriages. Most of the people that I’m friends with are all involved in long, committed relationships — Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner. If there are some of those relationships where the marriages have ended, they’ve ended after 30 years. So my example is not one that is most easily attached to show business, because it’s just not my circle.

Do you think Spinal Tap are a real band?
I know they’re a real band.

How many times have you seen the movie?
A lot. I mean, a lot.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?
Alanis Morissette at the Greek Theatre when Jagged Little Pill was a big hit. I took my daughter and her friend. And a private concert when I was in Ireland. We were going to see Eminem at an open-air festival near Dublin [in 2003]. I was with my friend, [director] John Boorman, and the house we were staying in had taken a barn and turned it into a chapel. We were getting a little tour of the rebuilt building, and Sinéad O’Connor started singing acapella in this empty chapel on this farm in Ireland, and I was the only person in the room. That was amazing.

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With this recent Halloween trilogy, you’ve proven you can be older in Hollywood and still be a total badass. Do you still think you’re pushing against that stereotype?
I was promoting Halloween [in] 2018 when the statistic came out that it was the most money made in a movie starring a woman over 50. It’s not like I’ve been an active feminist throughout my life, [but] there was a moment of real pride in that. I’ve also seen the meme going around saying that they’re going to do Halloween when I’m 80, and it’s funny. So we’ll see if I can kick down the door of 80s. I mean, Jane Fonda is doing it, for fuck’s sake. So maybe I have a shot.

If you text me, what’s our special question so I know it’s you?
Are you manifesting your destiny? Because that’s all we’re here for.