By age 19, Jamie Lee Curtis was already questioning whether or not she’d made the correct transfer by pursuing an performing profession.
The youthful daughter of Tony Curtis, star of basic movies like Some Like It Hot (1959), and Janet Leigh, a number one woman greatest identified for the bathe scene of Psycho (1960), Jamie Lee Curtis dropped out of the University of the Pacific to make her mark on the trade.
An element in “Operation Petticoat” (1977-78), an episodic TV remake of her father’s 1959 film, had turned out to be a false begin. She barely obtained in a single talking line per episode earlier than being dismissed, together with most of her castmates, on the finish of its disappointing first season.
A lifeline emerged with the chance to audition for a movie known as Halloween in early 1978, although there was no assure that this may resuscitate her fledgling profession. After all, this was a low-budget horror flick a few psychopath who stalks a gaggle of babysitters, hardly the kind of manufacturing that brought about critics to swoon. And its younger director, who was scrambling to get his profession off the bottom, initially did not even need her for the position.
‘Halloween’ co-writer Debra Hill was impressed by Curtis
As she recalled within the behind-the-scenes documentary Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest, Curtis was initially drawn to the potential for main display screen time advised by the script: “All I kept seeing was my name–the character’s name–on every page, so I knew it was a big part.”
Here was the possibility to carry to life the character of Laurie Strode, the mild-mannered 17-year-old who rises to the duty of tangling with cold-blooded assassin Michael Myers, even when it posed a problem to her still-developing performing abilities.
“I was very much a smart aleck and was a cheerleader in high school,” she notes within the documentary. “So I felt very concerned that I was being considered for the really quiet, repressed young woman.”
According to the Halloween Unmasked podcast, Curtis first auditioned for Debra Hill, the movie’s co-writer and producer. Hill had Curtis learn a scene wherein Laurie talks on the telephone to gauge how she got here throughout because the shy, girl-next-door sort, a efficiency the younger actress nailed.
“Jamie Lee Curtis was the perfect Laurie Strode,” Hill says in A Cut Above the Rest. “She had vulnerable qualities, and she just was wonderful in her audition.”
The drawback now was getting Halloween co-writer and director, John Carpenter, to see issues her means.
Director John Carpenter most well-liked one other younger actress
Heading into the undertaking, Carpenter had his eye on Anne Lockhart for the position of Laurie.
Lockhart additionally had a well-known actress mom–June Lockhart had starred within the TV exhibits “Lassie” and “Lost in Space”–and, in contrast to Curtis, she had already compiled a reasonably sizeable record of display screen credit.
Yet, whether or not resulting from alleged scheduling conflicts or one more reason, Lockhart handed on the provide. Carpenter subsequently took an extended take a look at Curtis and agreed to take an opportunity on the unproven 19-year-old.
There was one different issue that tipped the dimensions in Curtis’ favor: With her familial ties to Leigh, producers noticed a possibility to attach their undertaking, which couldn’t reel in main stars resulting from a meager $300,000 finances, to the enduring imagery of Psycho.
“We hired Jamie Lee for that reason,” admits Executive Producer Irwin Yablans in A Cut Above the Rest, earlier than including that Curtis “would have been the best choice anyway; she turned out to be a fine actress.”
The star anxious she can be fired after the primary day
Even with the half in hand, it took a while for Curtis to recover from the insecurity about headlining her first movie.
Following a protracted first day of capturing, which ended along with her considerably awkward effort to improvise the lyrics to a fictional music, Curtis was again at her residence when the telephone rang. It was Carpenter, who needed to speak to her.
Fearing she was about to be fired, Curtis reluctantly took the telephone, solely to be shocked by her director’s soothing phrases: “Hey, darling, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic today.”
Curtis not solely survived the whole lot of the harried shoot, however she in the end vindicated the filmmakers’ option to make her the unlikely star when Halloween went on to gross $47 million over the course of its preliminary theatrical run, making it one of the worthwhile motion pictures in historical past based mostly on preliminary funding.
Curtis struggled with typecasting, however finally embraced ‘scream queen’ standing
Despite the success of her characteristic movie debut, Curtis discovered herself again at sq. one, with few job provides, in its aftermath.
She wound up in Carpenter’s follow-up horror movie The Fog (1980), resulting in related elements in related scare flicks like Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980) and naturally, Halloween II (1982). She lastly broke out of the “scream queen” mould with a high-profile position within the comedy Trading Places (1983), paving the best way for recognition in mainstream fare like A Fish Called Wanda (1988) and True Lies (1994).
Meanwhile, a humorous factor occurred on the best way to A-list stardom: Halloween grew to become often known as a defining entry within the horror style, and Curtis returned to the franchise for Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)–which included an look from her mom–and Halloween: Resurrection (2002).
The following decade, after a wink at her roots along with her contributions to the TV slasher satire “Scream Queens” (2015-16), Curtis signed on for one more prolonged flip in Strode’s footwear with Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022).
Nearly a half-century after her big-screen introduction as a terrified babysitter, Curtis was nonetheless relishing the position of the last word Michael Myers foil, and she or he wouldn’t have it another means. After all, as she told Parade in 2018, “Every good thing that ever happened to me was because I was in horror films.”
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