Queen of scream: Jamie Lee Curtis on a life linked to horror

Put that glass of wine down, there’s a new Laurie in town.


Words: Darren Scott

The original scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, is back for a new installment in the Halloween series – but fans of the Chardonnay-swilling version of Laurie Strode from Halloween: H20 might be in for a shock.

Speaking at New York’s 92y.org, Jamie Lee Curtis talked about how the former incarnation of her horror heroine is a different Laurie entirely.

“The 20 year film has no relevance to this one,” she explains about this new direct sequel to John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher classic.

In the latest film, also called Halloween, Laurie is facing the boogeyman from her childhood, rather than running away and changing her name.

“That was the choice,” she states. “To run. Really there are three choices when you’re traumatised. You can die from it. You can run from it. Or it will affect you for your whole life until you face it. Those are the options, there are no other options. There’s no middle ground, there’s nothing else.”

In the new Halloween, Laurie has spent four decades preparing for the day when she’ll have to face serial killer Michael Myers once more. But that means that the previous seven sequels – three of which she appeared in, another in which she had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it voice cameo – are really only referenced as ‘easter egg’ nods for fans in the 2018 film.

“Halloween 20 was really my idea to go back to John [Carpenter] and Debra [Hill, who created the characters] and say, ‘Guys, we’re still legit! We still have careers, let’s make a 20th anniversary movie.’ Because I thought it was cool,” she recalls.

“And then they ended up not being a part of it, and that was a bummer and all the rest of it. But that was a movie designed for someone who had that trauma who’s been running ever since. Hence changed her name, new location, blah blah blah.

“But ultimately that end moment where she shuts the gate, the kids are safe, she basically throws away the key, turns back and says, ‘OK, come on let’s go’ was because you’re dead.

“When you’re running, you’re dead – you have no life. So in that sense it was to meet him head on in that way but hints at the trauma – alcoholism, dark thoughts, dark shadows but have a new persona.”

Although Jamie Lee has spent her life linked to one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time, she reveals she very nearly had an earlier shot at fame.

“Ray Stark was the producer of The Exorcist,” she recalls, although William Peter Blatty might have something to say about it.

“He actually was a close, close friend of my mother's. I was 11 or 12. Miss precocious, sort of flirty and kind of obnoxious. He called my mother and asked if I could audition to play Regan.

“My mother was like, ‘No’. But we actually had a screening capability in my house that my mother ended up buying and we screened The Exorcist for my 15th birthday.

“It scared me so badly that for the rest of the year my friends would chase me down the hall going, ‘Dimi, Dimi, why you do this to me?’

“And it’s ironic that I’m sitting here at the age of 60 talking about Halloween and scary movies for my entire life, because when I was 16 years old my personalised licence plate on my 1972 blue capri was Dimi.

“So weirdly enough, I have too been linked to horror films since my birth and I didn’t even recognise the irony.”

Halloween is in cinemas from Friday 19 October.