Jamie Lee Curtis has demonstrated her versatility as a film actress with starring roles in such acclaimed films as the blockbuster True Lies opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, for which she won a Golden Globe Award and Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, for which she earned a BAFTA (British Film Academy Award) for Best Supporting Actress. She got her big break at acting in 1978 when she was cast in the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween which brought her to the attention of audiences worldwide. In 1998, she starred in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later in which she reprised her role that made her famous back in 1978.
MoviesOnline sat down with Jamie to talk about her new movie, You Again, an outrageous comedy directed by Andy Fickman about what happens when you come face to face with your high school nemesis. Funny, intelligent and honest, the daughter of screen legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh told us about her cheerleading experiences in high school, why it doesn’t matter if True Lies was sexist, and why size counts when it comes to her Virus action figure vs. Sigourney Weaver’s for Avatar. She also updated us on her latest book, My Mommy Hung The Moon: A Love Story.
JLC: Hi guys. Oh, this is going to be just really embarrassing.
Q: Why is that?
JLC: Because this is what it feels like to audition. You have to understand, I already got the part and did it, seriously.
Q: Show us what you have in your bag.
[Jamie produces an action figure of herself from a large bag.]
JLC: So, Sigourney Weaver was in the most successful movie of all time and she will tell you that, over and over again. My action figure from the piece of sh*t Virus is bigger than hers. That’s all you have to know. Size does matter. Hers is half off and mine I bought on eBay for a premium of $8.95.
Q: When they were making those during preproduction on Virus, were there hopes for Avatar-level success?
JLC: Oh please, are you kidding? I’m just letting you all know that although I understand she speaks French and was in the number one movie ever, my action figure is bigger than hers and that’s all that you really need to know about me.
Q: With James Cameron back in the news, people are still debating True Lies.
JLC: About what?
Q: They’re still debating whether it’s sexist or not.
JLC: Oh, please. Oh, darling.
Q: I’ve always defended it, but where did you stand on that one?
JLC: It’s not sexist at all. Who cares? Who gives a sh*t? Honestly, who cares whether or not True Lies is sexist? Who cares? Is it funny? Yeah. Does it have some action? Yeah. Is it a little sexy? Yeah.
Q: And it’s got you in a great black dress.
JLC: Exactly, I mean, it’s perfect, geez.
[standing on chair to take pictures of our recorders]
JLC: I have a blog on iPhone photos. It’s called iPhonies. This is such a good picture.
Q: Did you have any frenemies in high school?
JLC: No, no. No, high school as far as I was concerned was more about betrayal. I think high school is when you first get betrayed.
Q: By whom?
Q: Did that happen?
JLC: Sure. Name one, I won’t make you all raise hands, but not one person in this room didn’t get betrayed. [Whispering] “I like him.” And you’re now going to lean back and go, “She likes him.” The next thing you know, Heidi’s going, “You like him?” Because that’s what happens. You don’t think. You say to a friend something and then the next thing you know you’re betrayed. For me, and that’s just the natural thing where we also as young people don’t know what to do with those trusts. It’s too hot to handle so we have to give it to somebody else. “She likes him.” It gives you power the way that kind of moves so I think high school is a lot more about that. For me, that’s what high school was, was learning that people are going to tell your secrets.
Q: What group were you in?
JLC: I was a cheerleader. I was a kind of middle of the road – - here’s what I can tell you. To me, this was high school, and I just remembered this. I went to a girls’ school, Westlake School, and in our year, the yearbook picture, we were allowed to group in our little groups and a photographer was hired. So each little group signed up for their time and you could go do what you wanted. So the artsy people, the theater people, they all were doing mime and top hats and were all like this and very clever. The ballet dancers all stood with their little things and the thing. I sat cross-legged with my girlfriends in a semi-circle. We were like the good girls, kind of like the good cheerleader girls. Nothing sophisticated, we’re just like this. And then there were four girls who were the bad girls. Now the rule at school was you were not allowed to leave campus. That’s the rule, right? Their picture was taken from the back of them walking off campus. Four girls, walking away from the camera like this, through the gates of the school. I’ll never forget it as long as I live, ever. A year ago I’m in a doctor’s office and I’m sitting there. A woman across from me goes, “Hi Jamie, do you remember me?” I won’t say her name, I’ll come up with a fake name. “Emily Brown.” I went, “Emily Brown, from Westlake?” She said “Yeah.” I said, “You were in the picture of the four girls walking off campus!” She said “Yeah” and then I named them all. I knew ‘em all. That to me was like ahhh, the ultimate. So I was a good girl. I still am.
Q: Sounds like you were envious of the bad girls.
JLC: But how could you not? Risking it all, you know, walking off campus. Ah, no, I just wanted to fit in. I still do. I just want to fit in.
Q: I’m surprised you weren’t in drama.
JLC: No. No, I was never in a play, never in anything. Anything, in fact, in my senior year, I went to three high schools, don’t even ask, that tells you everything. So I went to three high schools. My last year, I went to Choate in the East Coast. My mother did a play in New York, I decided to go east. Her play closed, I stayed in the school my last year of high school, and I’m a movie star kid, a prep school, you don’t want to know, horrible. So I auditioned for the plays, a big art center there, and I can’t sing. I can dance a little but I’m not a great dancer, blah blah blah. And I’m not a great actor so I’m not getting in any of the plays. You know, the big musical, Oklahoma, so I audition. I think I get in a chorus. You know, you’re in chorus. And I was a dancer in chorus. You know, the cast lists, everybody has named parts and then it’s chorus. So I’m in this thing and the director of the play had been a theater director and he said, “You know, in the original Oklahoma, there was a girl in a polka dot dress who was a featured dancer. She would run across the stage being chased by boys. She would run across the stage and lift her skirt and kind of look over her shoulder and giggle and then run off. Then seconds later, three boys would run past. It would just happen randomly in the play as if this little chase was going on through the story.” He said, “I want you to be that girl.” Basically, he said, “When the play’s lagging, go out there.” I would stand off going in and out, and then I’d run off. I have a picture of me, I’m like this. That’s the extent but that was the senior year of high school. That was the extent of my experience.
Q: When did drama kick in?
JLC: It didn’t. I went to college, it’s a boring story, probably three minutes, but I came home from college on Christmas break, a tennis teacher that I knew in Beverly Hills happened to be managing actresses at that point. I went over to a friend’s house where he taught and I knew him. I said, “Hey, how are you doing?” He said, “Good. I’m managing actresses. They’re looking for Nancy Drew. You’d be a good Nancy Drew.” I said, “Yeah. I would.” He said, “Well, do you want to go up for it?” I said sure so he arranged an audition, I went to the thing, I didn’t get the part but then I got a contract at Universal and quit school, became an actor. Never thought about it.
Q: It’s about time for Katheryn Bigelow too. Have you found people rediscovering Blue Steel?
JLC: No, actually. I’m a little surprised actually. I kind of thought maybe it would get a reissue or there’d be some sort of Blu Ray Blue Steel Blue something and nothing, nothing. It was good. It was interesting.
Q: This film is about integrity and honesty. Why do you think those are important values?
JLC: Wow, they are? I’m joking. Well, don’t we look at that in every relationship we have? Politics, marriage, friendship. It’s sort of like the old golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, trust, blah blah blah. It’s nice that you actually gleaned that from a cute, fun chick flick kind of romp. It’s nice that you would, a man. It’s definitely nice. I don’t go into a comedy looking to have a big message. I look for it to see will it be funny, can it be funny and what can I do to make it funnier? If there’s somewhere in it some essential truth, then that’s a lovely byproduct of the storytelling but it’s not what I set out – - I didn’t set out going, “Ooh, this is going to be great because it’s going to have this great lesson at the end.” I thought it was just kind of a funny conceit honestly. I just thought it was kind of silly and fun.
Q: Talk about the dance scene.
JLC: The dance scene, I know, but the problem with the dance scene is of course we shot like eight hours of it and it’s like 14 seconds in the movie. Honestly, the amount of frickin’ dancing that we all did together, I don’t even think you can put it out on the DVD. I had an entire, you know those silks from Vegas, you know those women who get wrapped up in the silk? I have an entire sequence in the silk. I’m the only one that will go up, I go up, Victor’s whipping me around, I’m flailing, it’s pathetic. Talk about rehearsals. Weeks of web work, weeks! Bruised, I don’t think it’s even on the DVD. It must’ve been really bad but I thought it was funny at the time. You know what? It’s all cute. All of that is fun. That’s what it should be, a big dance off between people. Sigourney and I did that for six minutes a time, 100 times. A lot of back and forthing, and of course it’s just minute in the movie now.
Q: You look fit though.
JLC: Well, I’m fit but I mean, I’m not that fit. Believe me, I was huffing and puffing every time.
Q: How do you balance all your work, acting, writing, charity with the Children’s Hospital? They say kids don’t read anymore.
JLC: Well, they’re not really. I’m one of those people, I do a lot of things. I’m lucky, I get up, I have a lot of energy. I have a great work ethic. My mom I think really gave me a great work ethic so 5 a.m. I’m up doing stuff every day. And, you write a book, it comes out two years later. So it’s not as if I’m writing every day. When a book is kind of in its finishing stages, I do that. I’m very involved in my son’s school, VERY involved in my son’s school. I do as much charity work as I can, as much as my family life will allow. I do believe charity begins at home and I think the more we focus on our families, the better they will be. Somebody asked me the other day am I going to be at Maria’s big conference, her last. I said I don’t know, because I’m going to be involved in Tommy’s life. That’s not an “Oh, you’re a good girl, Jamie. What a wonderful mom you are.” It’s just really the choice. The choice is I would rather do that than talk to 17,000 women. I’d rather do that, even if it’s a much smaller thing. I occasionally work. This popped up because it was six weeks in the summer in Los Angeles. If this had been six weeks in Toronto, I wouldn’t be in the movie.
Q: All your films in the last 10 years have been very family oriented.
JLC: Yeah, well, there does come a point where you’d like to do movies that your kids can see and, by the way, you don’t want to do anything particularly dark because I don’t want my kids – - I mean, I have to navigate already that both my kids are going to see things that I did when I was younger that I wouldn’t like them to see today. Not because I’m ashamed of it on any level whatsoever, but because they’re my children. I just don’t want them to have to see me like that, whatever it is. It’s not nudity. My kids have seen me in a bathing suit. It’s not like they’re going to see that much different. It’s just that the idea that themes, there’s some dark thing, I don’t want them to see me like that. There’s no need for me as an actor to have them go, “Oh, you were good in that, mom. Wow, that was great.” Feh, feh. The last thing I’m going to do now is go do some movie where I’m slamming up against some guy. As much as The Kids Are All Right is a fantastic movie, there’s no way I would be able to participate in something like that. I’ve got small children. I’ve got a 14-year-old son. He does not want to see his mommy doing that. So I have to be really cognizant about what I’m bringing into my family. My husband, he doesn’t want to see. At a point, and so I’m lucky, I don’t have to do that. I respect so much the work that so many women do but that’s just not what I do. I have a job where I advertise yogurt that makes you poop and that people love and people tell me about their bowel movements every day. I never in my life thought when I first was asked by this company, Activia, Dannon, to be their representative, I really don’t think it was just like, “Oh, it’s going to be a check, I’m going to do it.” I really thought, “Okay, wait a minute. I’m going to go out and talk about bowel movements and about how people’s digestive tracts work. Some work better than others and why and blah blah blah and that this will help.” I really thought, “Okay, is that going to be weird? I mean, is that going to be weird? You’re an actor, you’re a writer. Is that going to just be a weird thing?” It has turned out to be the most fun thing, because it’s amazing, like with women, the minute women, we all look at each other, we’re like, “Oh, she’s wearing that cute black thing with the necklace and her hair is so beautiful and your wearing flowers, I could never wear flowers and you’re over there and you look beautiful.” We all look at each other. There’s not one thing I wouldn’t look at one of you women and go, “Oh, really? I like that hoop earring, I don’t…” The minute I go like this [shaking her arm flab], we all go, “Oh, yes.” To me it’s all about relatability. So the idea that I do something where people come up to me anywhere I am in the world and they go, “Thank you. Thank you for Activia. It has changed my life.” I know what they’re telling me. They’re telling me that the product that I endorse has helped them. Now, I’m not a doctor but I actually feel the way a doctor gets thanked by a patient and I get it all the time. I just came from vacation. I was on a plane this morning. I landed at noon. I literally got home, threw on these clothes and came here. I was in Idaho in the mountains with hiking boots and I went all over Idaho, driving big trucks, okay. So this is what happened to me the other day.
[Plays a recording of a Ranger at Craters of the Moon National Park in Arco, ID thanking her for Activia]
JLC: All day long. I have one from a man. You think it’s just women? You think it’s just women?
[Plays a recording from the top of Baldy Mountain where a man thanks her for Activia]
JLC: All I can tell you is I’ve been in a lot of movies, I’m the daughter of very famous people, I’m married to a very famous guy, I do a lot of things. Nothing else in my life, nothing else gets people coming up to me saying, “You’ve changed my life. Because of you and that product, it is off the charts, my life is different.” I’m telling you. Now if you told me three years ago when I started doing advertisements for them that that was going to be the reality of my life, that I would be in airports and people would come up, hold my hand and thank me… You just have to wake up in the morning and know that something is going to happen.
Q: Are your kids interested in Halloween or Fish Called Wanda?
JLC: Nope. My kids are not interested in anything I do. And I mean that not in any dis to my children or dis to me. My kids have their own life, they could give a sh*t what I do.
Q: What’s the next book?
JLC: It’s called My Mommy Hung The Moon: A Love Story.
Q: When does it come out?
JLC: September 7, for Harper Collins.
Q: How was it working with Betty White?
JLC: Betty White, well, what can you say about Betty White except every single thing you’ve ever heard about her is true.
Q: Have you spoken to Lindsay Lohan recently?
JLC: I have not spoken to her.
Q: Any well wishes for her?
JLC: Well, of course.
You Again opens in theaters on September 24th.