The power of Jamie Lee Curtis cannot be underestimated. It goes beyond the $77 million-plus opening weekend her film “Halloween” earned at the box office, making it the No. 1 movie in the land.
Perhaps even better was a moment at Comic-Con last summer, where a fan confessed that the actress unknowingly saved his life.
“Someone broke into my house with a knife,” he said. “I was scared out of my mind, and out of nowhere, this thought inside me went, ‘Well, what would Jamie Lee Curtis do?’” he said, telling Curtis. “Because of the way you portrayed Laurie Strode, I’m a victor today instead of a victim.”
The original scream queen, now 59, takes it all in stride as the new film celebrates the 40th anniversary of the franchise.
Review-Journal: What is the perfect Sunday for you?
Jamie Lee Curtis: I’ve made a commitment to being physically strong. My motto is if you sweat a little now, you will enjoy the rewards for a long, long time. So I’m outside doing things on Sundays. I love to play tennis. Sunday is also a day for family with my husband Christopher (Guest). I like to have everyone around the family table.
Do you really have the “Halloween” theme song as your ringtone?
I did have it as my ringtone. You know who else has it as his ringtone? John Carpenter (composer of the soundtrack). In restaurants, it would come on and I’d just smile at people and shrug.
Why play Laurie Strode again 40 years later?
We all love to go to the movies and get scared. But it has to be based in reality and something you can believe in. As a woman, I’m 40 years older; I’ve raised two children. I have lost many in my family including parents and friends. The reality of life makes stepping into this role 40 years later so easy. It’s just emotions and human feelings that draw me back. Laurie is the same girl 40 years later but has been through a heck of a lot. Like we all have.
Explain Laurie four decades later.
Laurie Strode was 17 years old when she was brutally attacked by Michael Myers in a random act of violence that stayed with her for her entire life. Now, it’s 40 years later and she’s never had any mental health services. She had a small cut on her arm after the attack. That was it. It has been a lifetime suffering from PTSD. She was raised in the Midwest, and I’m sure they sent her back to school two days after her attack. She did what many would do afterward … she ended up drinking too much, she tried to do relationships. She had a child who was taken from her. Can you imagine Laurie at the parent-teacher conference in first grade? She would be asking the teacher, “What’s your exit strategy? What happens when Michael arrives?” She’s clearly a woman dogmatic about the fact that Myers will be back. Now, she lives in isolation waiting for him to come back.
But she’s not a victim anymore.
What was so interesting about the movie was we wanted Laurie to shout, “I am NOT my trauma. The narrative of my life is NOT that I’m a victim.” This is a woman who has been waiting 40 years to face the person who attacked her and say, “I’m going to take back the legacy of my life and you don’t own me anymore.” Weirdly enough, that seems to be a bit of a thing in the world today.
What was your favorite moment of filming?
On the first day of shooting, I always insist the crew wear name tags because they know my name and I don’t know theirs. (It) was the last night of shooting. As I was walking to the set, I looked up and every member of the crew had a name tag on saying, “WE ARE LAURIE STRODE.” It meant we are all in this together and trauma is universal. It was an amazing gift the crew gave to me. The cherry on top.
Are you an easy scare?
You know, life is a little scary. It’s part of being human. But I’ve never been to war, I’m not a police officer or a firefighter. I’m an actor. Listen, life is tough for everyone. That’s why we go to a movie like this … so we can come together, scream, laugh and then go home and, hopefully, get some sleep.
What is terrifying to you?
Random acts of violence. What makes Michael Myers so terrifying isn’t the mask. You had this small town, beautiful life — the childhood of our dreams — and then you introduce this random violence. That’s deeply frightening to me.
Switching gears: What is the secret of your over-three-decade marriage to actor and screenwriter Christopher Guest?
We know that it’s good to be opposites. We don’t have to watch the same shows or listen to the same songs or read the same books. We don’t have to be carbon copies of each other, and that makes it interesting. We’re always learning from each other.
How do you keep a positive outlook?
I wake up every morning with the belief I can make that day better. That I can make the lives of the people in my life better. That I can bring the best I can bring. I do that every single day. Even if the day falls apart at the end, I still believe I’ll wake up the next morning with the promise it will be different. Embrace the possibilities.
One last thing … how do you celebrate Halloween?
There’s not a lot of kids in my neighborhood, but I still put a big bowl of candy out. No one ever comes. Then I go outside the next morning, find the whole bowl is still there, bring it inside and eat it. I don’t trick-or-treat. I am my own Halloween costume.