“Look at you in your Michael Myers outfit!” was not necessarily the reaction I was going for when I jumped into what I thought was a chic jumpsuit to interview Jamie Lee Curtis, the star of the iconic Halloween films, which is making a killer comeback.
Jamie returns as Laurie, forty years since the franchise’s first incarnation, to wreak revenge on the menacing Michael Myers, a serial killer who butchered everyone around her, caused her long-term psychological damage and, in the process, created one of the most iconic franchises of all time.
For those of you keen to watch the remake but concerned you haven’t seen the ELEVEN other Halloween movies, Jamie has some reassurance for you, “we discard the old ones, which is pleasant. It’s like when you take off your sweat pants and throw them on the floor. We know they are there – the only thing we are trying to do is talk about a relationship between a movie that was in 1978 and the movie in 2018,” she says gesturing at an imaginary washing pile.
Back in the present, as I try to detract from my questionable dressing decision by commenting on her badass suit in vivid red, the 59-year-old star simply kept repeating, “liar, liar, liar,” in her gravely iconic tones before posing the question, “maybe you have turned this into an interesting therapy session and I will play the doctor and we can figure out what happened in your life for you to turn up to interview Jamie Lee Curtis wearing a Michael Myers grey jumpsuit!”
But as it turns out, returning to a role she first played at just 17 was actually quite the cathartic therapy session for her. “Completely! Very much so,” Jamie tells me looking at me dead in the eye with her own eyes framed by her thick-rimmed glasses and short grey hair; now JLC trademarks.
Was it empowering to return, play a gun-wielding badass and get some revenge, I wonder? “Actually, I didn’t show up, leave my family and make no money for a month and a half, shooting in Charleston all at night for that moment,” she tells me in a matter-of-fact-but-confessional tone.
Typically, the traditional plot line for horror movies is to butcher teenage girls, place them as damsels in distress and simply brush over her psychological trauma. But Halloween, the 2018 take, finally allows women to win. “We are trying to win,” Jamie exclaims.
Although, whilst she tells me she pays, “no attention to horror movies, I don’t watch any – I am serious,” Jamie continues to say, “I did it for all the moments leading up to the revenge. I wanted to show what the mask of trauma really looked like.”
Before me sits someone – crossed legged and bossing it – who has achieved so much, but that doesn’t mean that Jamie didn’t learn something about herself during filming. “What I learnt about myself is that shame, fear, trauma and everything that goes with experiencing traumatic moments pays a toll in isolating you. I went off to make this movie and I was very isolated and alone. Living by myself in Charleston – I am not from Charleston, I am famous so it’s hard for me to walk around without having to talk to everybody. It made me realise I can actually be by myself and that gave me a lot of self-reliance.”
In a career that has spanned longer than most can dream of, her best piece of advice came very early on, however. “There have been very few people who really make an impact on you,” Jamie leans in. “We all kinda bang into each other and we connect, or we don’t connect. There was a friend of my mom’s who looked at me when I was eighteen and said, ‘I see who you are.’ Just in that sight, I felt different.”
Hollywood is a very different place in 2018 following the seismic changes induced by the #MeToo movement, in comparison to when Jamie Lee Curtis first stepped into the spotlight. But, when asked what her younger self would say to the Jamie of 2018, she doesn’t, “think any of that would matter. It’s nothing to do with Hollywood – I would assume that someone younger would look at me and everything I have tried to do, everything I have tried to talk about, including body image – I took off my clothes and had my pictures taken in magazines insisting on showing what I looked like rather than what I looked like dolled up in my red power suit.”
Jamie hasn’t lent her fame to just one issue, however; her career is peppered with empowering protest, “I talked about addiction and substance abuse, plastic surgery – trying it, failing at it, hating it, thinking it’s f**king charlatans, stealing your money. I would hope a young person would look at me with my grey hair and wrinkly face and say, ‘that’s cool that you are who you are.’ If I met Jamie at 17, I would hopefully be an adult who would say, ‘I see you.’”
For her lengthy career, which has seen her entertain from A Fish Called Wanda to Freaky Friday, it’s refreshing to hear that the superficial nature of the Hollywood beast holds no interest to her. Shaking her head, Jamie states, “To be honest with you, that’s why I don’t subscribe to fashion magazines. I wear black, so I won’t have to talk about what I am wearing. I am wearing a red suit because I am in the middle of a promotional tour and you will see this suit for four months. I will wear it until the end of this thing and I will never put it on again!”
Communication, rather than the visuals, is all that matters for this iconic film star, as she concludes with, “for me, it is about connecting because if it isn’t, I don’t really know what we are doing. It has to be – but it isn’t often. That’s why Hollywood doesn’t matter, fashion doesn’t matter, it’s a nice thing but really, what has to happen and the reason I did this movie, was because of the connection. A connection to Laurie and the story.”
After connecting IRL with Jamie Lee Curtis, I can’t help but feel that little bit more empowered – almost as charged as her power dressing garb.
‘Halloween’ is in cinemas this Friday.