Jamie Lee Curtis Owes Her Career To John…Landis?

John Cleese, too. And obviously John Carpenter. Bet VIRUS director John Bruno feels pretty dumb now.

Obtain your tickets to see Halloween at the Alamo Drafthouse here. Obtain your copy of BMD's Halloween issue here.

As you may have heard by now, there's a new Halloween movie coming out today. Normally this is only of interest to people like me, but a number of factors have made it an event anticipated on the level usually reserved for comic book movies.

There are a couple of reasons for this: one is that - unlike the last five entries - it's actually being released close to its namesake holiday, so people are more in the mood for pumpkin-spiced slashing than they are in August. Another is that it has thrown out all of the other sequels' storylines, so you don't need to know your Druid history in order to follow along. But really, it's because Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, which is what made H20 such a big deal when it came out in 1998. No one (including me) ever thought we'd see her in a Halloween movie again, and, not for nothing, a Blumhouse production tends to be a little smarter than a Dimension one. So she's not just back, she's back in a real film, not an advertisement for Creed.

In fact, getting her into a horror film at all is no small feat, as the actress has made it abundantly clear that she not only doesn't care much for watching them due to how she reacts (I vividly remember renting Death Ship as a kid specifically because she claimed it freaked her out, not realizing she was using it as an example of how even low-grade stuff* terrified her), but wasn't interested in being in them because of how hard she worked to shed her "scream queen" image from the early part of her career. Naturally, this came up at the junket a few weeks back, and she started telling the story we've probably all heard about how she didn't want to do horror anymore and thanks to Trading Places, she didn't have to.

But it's not like she auditioned for a comedy and happened to get the role - it was specifically her horror roots that got her into the movie. Perhaps it was because of the junket's setting, on the Universal backlot (not the usual place for these things), it triggered a new part of the story that I don't think I had heard before, which makes sense because, per Jamie, "nobody knows this". Her train of thought clearly diverged in the moment, so I believe this is an anecdote she wasn't thinking about prior to sitting down. Enjoy!

"The only conscious decision I have ever made as an actor is to not do another horror film after Halloween II. It was the only time I said, "I don't think I can do that again, because if I do that again I'm going to get stuck." Even though I had no discernible talent! I had no skills, I had not gone to acting school... you know what I mean? I didn't know anything! I was an "accidental actor", and now now I made these horror movies and I somehow knew because I think I was around show business, that you can get pigeonholed. I knew if I didn't stop I would never get to do anything else. Even though I didn't know what that was going to be, I knew that if I wanted to have an opportunity to do anything else, I needed to stop. And I stopped! I literally said "I will not do another horror movie." A week later I was cast as Dorothy Stratten in a TV movie about her murder by her husband, and two months or three months later... weirdly enough, the reason I'm in Trading Places is because of John Landis, it's because of horror movies! Nobody knows this, now you all will!

John Landis was directing a short about ’50s horror movie trailers called Coming Soon, about trailers for all those '50s horror movies. And he needed somebody to narrate and be the host of the documentary, so who did John Landis call? Jamie Lee Curtis! I'd never met him. We shot it on the backlot of Universal, and it's me with a crane going, "Hi. I'm Jamie Lee Curtis... here's the 1952..." whatever. You know, you've been here with me for twenty minutes, I'm sort of a smart-ass, I'm very frothy or whatever the fuck I am. Clearly, I made him laugh a few times because it was John Landis who single-handedly told Paramount that he was going to cast *me* in the only female part in a very big-budget Paramount comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. The only female part in the movie, and John is giving it to me. And you know and I know that there was blowback. I know it, I've read it, they told him, "No. What are you crazy? No, no, no, no, no, we're going to put somebody else in it." He was like, "No, I'm going to put this girl in it." And he wouldn't have known me, and I never would have known him had it not been for horror movies, because it was that short that I did for him that he then went, "Oh no, she's funny. I'm going to put her in Trading Places." That's why I'm in it. And then that leap-frogged to John Cleese seeing Trading Places and writing A Fish Called Wanda, and then Jim Cameron saw A Fish Called Wanda and writing True Lies for me. All written for me because of a thing before, and none of it would have happened had I not been in a horror movie because of John Carpenter. Literally, that's why I'm here today, because that succession happened. None of which would have ever happened on their own, you know what I mean? I would have never been in Trading Places, no way. It just never would have happened."

So there you have it. Prom Night has some value after all! 

Also, I tried to get her to talk about her acting process for this one, since she's in the unique position of returning to a character while also chucking out a huge chunk of their backstory (including the "loss" of both a psychotic brother and a Josh Hartnett), which I don't think any actor of her stature has ever had to do before, but apparently it wasn't a concern. However, on the sequels, she had this to say, which I found to be a great way of looking at it:

"What was beautiful about what David, Danny and Jeff did is, if you imagine all the Halloween movies as their own inner tubes and you're on a lake, all they did was just untie them from the dock and they floated away. They all exist. There's II, there's 4... there's 5! The only one that this movie relates to is the first one. Because in order to tell this story, that was the way they could. If they had to take all of those stories and try to weave them into this story, it wouldn't be possible. I'm dead! Do you know what I mean? It's not possible. So I think the way they did it was beautiful. All those movies still exist, none of them have been popped and drowned. They're right there, but this is the story we're telling today."

So sayeth the queen! 

After what seems like several hundred years of announcements and interviews, the film is finally out for you to see. I hope you like it as much as (or even more) than I did, but either way I hope you're enjoying our Halloween BMD magazine, which is still available for those of you who have yet to snag a copy! 

*I actually like Death Ship, so don't yell at me.