- Publish Date
- Thursday, 18 October 2018, 4:41PM
It's been 40 years since Jamie Lee Curtis made her horror debut in Halloween, triggering a string of follow-up roles in 80s horror flicks Prom Night, Terror Train, The Fog and Halloween II.
Despite a long and successful career tackling a variety of other genres, Curtis has remained one of Hollywood's favourite Scream Queens.
You might think Curtis has actively sought out the roles as a fan of the genre. But you'd be wrong. In fact, she hates scary movies.
"There is nothing I like about being scared. Nothing!" Curtis tells TimeOut. "I'm frightened by the cartoon show Archer. I scare easily. I just do. Disney movies scare me. Bambi scares me. I put pillows over my face and sing Clair de Lune."
That distaste for horror did not prevent Curtis from returning to her most iconic horror role in a new sequel titled, simply, Halloween, which revisits her character Laurie Strode 40 years after the most traumatic night of her life, when a masked, seemingly unstoppable mad-man named Michael Myers stalked her and killed a bunch of her friends.
The new film ignores the events of every single Halloween film made between then and now, including 1981's Halloween II and 1998's Halloween: H20, both of which featured Curtis as Strode. It even retires the idea that Myers is Laurie's brother, a notion introduced in Halloween II.
The 2018 Halloween has an unlikely creative team: director/co-writer David Gordon Green, and co-writer Danny McBride, collaborators best known for raucous comedic TV shows (Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals), and movies (Pineapple Express), in which McBride also starred.
Green reached out to Curtis via her friend Jake Gyllenhaal, whom Green had just directed in the film Stronger, and she liked how the screenplay emphasised the lasting emotional effects of Strode's teenage experience.
"The way the story of the trauma played out made me really understand what David was trying to do," says Curtis. "It showed reverence, it showed creativity, it showed homage, and it showed that we were in familiar territory. But with a 40-year time gap."
The Laurie Strode we meet in the new Halloween is a survivor who isolates herself in a fortified homestead. She's estranged from her resentful adult daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), who grew up with a mother who was always preparing for the moment Michael Myers would return to finish the job he started on the night of October 31, 1978.
"What happened to [Laurie] on November 1?" asks Curtis. "She woke up at home. She had stitches in her arm and a bandage, and all her friends were dead. And she went back to school and no one ever talked about it. And she was a freak."
Much more than most films about unstoppable killers, Halloween seeks to illustrate what experiencing the events of a horror film might actually do to a person.
"The day before, she was this intellectual, curious, dreaming, romantic girl, and one night of that horror and now she was this broken person, trying to maintain her life. We just started to explore what that really looked like."
Curtis, a boisterous, energetic interviewee with an endearing affection for cuss words, is as surprised as anyone that she's playing Laurie Strode again after all these years.
"Holy shit, I just never thought it would happen! I never thought I'd be sitting here with you. I didn't know I'd return."
Another quality that separates Halloween 2018 from most of the previous sequels (not to mention Rob Zombie's 2007 reboot and its own 2009 sequel) is the involvement of the original film's director/co-writer, John Carpenter, who composed the musical score with his son Cody and serves as an executive producer on the new film, giving it his blessing. That was further motivation for Curtis to take on the role.
"The person who changed the course of my life, creatively, was John Carpenter. I owe him and [Halloween producer/co-writer] Debra Hill my entire creative life. He's a great man. He's kind, he's gentle, he's funny, he's weird, talented, sweet."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.