By Jamie Lee Curtis’ own admission, she’s had a hell of a career, filled with all sorts of opportunities. “I’m an actor. I write books for children. I create websites and podcasts. I have sold yogurt that makes you poop. I’ve done Hertz commercials with O.J. Simpson,” she says. “I’ve been able to do so much and I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do, in whatever form it is.”
Yet, the mutli-hyphenate seems more surprised than anyone that she will be receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 8. Curtis will be there with her latest film, “Halloween Kills,” the latest installment in the iconic franchise that launched her career in 1978.
Congratulations on the Venice honor. How did you find out about it and what was your reaction?
Well, it was unexpected. And cool. I’m the wrong person to ask any of these questions because I’m just sort of trying to be where I am while I’m there. I’m not someone who ever anticipated this moment, so I’m trying not to overanalyze it. Because I could, in a very negative way. (Laughs)
You’ve done so many genres but you’ll always be associated with horror and I love that you come back to it. I feel like the genre is getting a lot more respect these days and its wonderful “Halloween Kills” will be at Venice.
I agree with you. I think the Italian cinema as a collective have respect respected the genre in a way that American cinema has not. And that’s okay. But when I was first acting in movies, they were called B movies. The labeling was very clear: These are not high art. But you still show up and you work the same hours and the process is the same. And if you have any integrity, you go into it with the same level of commitment. And I’ve been doing that for a very long time. So it’s lovely to receive this appreciation.
After all these years, why are people so fascinated by “Halloween” and Laurie Strode?
That’s a many million dollar question. A hundreds of millions of dollars question. There is something that John Carpenter and Debra Hill crated of pure evil and pure good. They tapped into a trope that has been worked through opera, theater, books, films since the beginning of people using words. The idea of evil and good. When Irwin Yablans, the producer, went to John and said, “This man, Moustapha Akkad, is going to give you $300,000 to make a babysitter slasher movie.” It was Irwin who said, “I think you should set it on Halloween night.” From there one, the idea of pure evil and the most ubiquitous representation of good, a virginal babysitter, a young girl with dreams of romance and goodness in her heart. Somehow the simplicity of that theme of evil and goodness coming together on Halloween night on 1978 in Haddonfield, Illinois is the reason it has lasted all these years. That theme never dies. It’s an ongoing theme we all struggle with every day in every aspect of our lives.
What can you tell us about the new film?
This all began when Jason Blum wrote David Gordon Green a one-word email: “Halloween?” And David and Danny McBride conceived a trilogy. We got to see in the 2018 movie that Laurie had become the personification of trauma. It married at the time when the MeToo Movement was at it’s ascent. Here you have a movie about a woman traumatized for 40 years and she is now rising up. And it collided with what was happening globally. And what they’ve done with the second part of the trilogy was, “What happens when the rest of the people in that town get angry?” We made the movie and the uprisings that started to happen where people were taking to the streets – it was all happening with what was to be the release of our movie. Which is about mob violence. So somehow they intuited in understanding that the next wave of trauma is rage. They wrote a movie about mob violence and five months later, the mobs started to gather. We were supposed to come out a year ago. And then Jan. 6 happened – this was supposed to be released in October of last year and now we’re watching a mob descend on the U.S. capital. That’s what the next movie is about: the town of Haddonfield, all of the people in the town who were also victims of Michael Myers. There’s a group of people who are very angry at the authorities and are going to take the law into their own hands.