Whether you first saw her on a frightening Halloween evening or after a freaky turn of events on a Friday, it’s hard not to instantly admire this down-to-earth actress. Despite being born in Hollywood, in an environment many of us would find it hard to relate to, Jamie Lee Curtis is probably one of the most relatable celebrities out there.
She admits, “We all wake up in the morning and try to figure out who we are and why we are here…and also feed the dog and chop wood and carry water.” She could not have explained life in a better way. Get ready to be inspired by the queen of horror with a heart so brave she’s willing to kill the boogeyman.
Born in Santa Monica, California, on November 22, 1958, Jamie Lee Curtis had acting in her blood. Both her parents were well-known Hollywood actors with some memorable roles to their names. Her mother, Janet Leigh, is the woman famously screaming in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho,” and her father, Tony Curtis, is a famous heartthrob of the ‘50s acted in over 100 films.
But growing up as “the daughter of” has its drawbacks, and being continuously introduced as someone’s child messes with your mind. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jamie admitted that “You’re a child trying to develop an identity…and all this Hollywood stuff plagues you and makes you kind of wonder who you are.”
A Harsh and Publicized Divorce
Jamie’s parents filed for divorce when she was four, and the split up was hard. It was widely publicized and, although Curtis was very young, she recalls it being heartbreaking, and the public’s scrutinizing eye made it that much worse. After the split, her dad wasn’t overly involved in family matters, with Jamie mentioning “he wasn’t interested in being a father.”
Despite the emotional complexities Jamie accumulated with respect to her parents, she never stopped viewing them as crucial examples when it came to acting. To this day, she’s grateful for the advice they gave her, like the importance of declining questionable roles. Her father taught her to carefully consider every acting job, claiming that whatever is caught on tape can always come back to haunt you.
Her Sister Pursued Acting as Well
Tony Curtis had quite a few women in his life and ended up marrying six times. That meant a whole lot of siblings for Jamie, four half-siblings, and one full blood sibling. Kelly Lee Curtis, her full sister, is the eldest one in the family. She also pursued an acting career, appearing in several movies throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Kelly knew she wanted to act early on in life, and of the two Curtis sisters, she was actually the one people expected to be famous. She graced the screen when she was only two years old, starring next to her parents in the movie “The Vikings.” She even attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in order to improve her skills as an actress. Although not as well-known as Jamie, there’s no doubting that talent runs in the family.
A D+ Cheerleader
Jamie’s high school years involved cheerleading and a lot of moving around. With parents in the entertainment business, her upbringing was far from normal. In four years, Curtis moved three high schools, two in Beverly Hills and a boarding school in Connecticut, after her mom accepted a role on Broadway.
Jamie admits schoolwork never came easy to her. She remembers a lot of joking around, having fun, and graduating with a D+ average. Finishing school, she was lightyears away from wanting to act and was actually set on becoming a police officer because “I thought I would be good, and you didn’t need a lot of schooling for it.” She enrolled in the University of the Pacific and began studying corrections, only to drop out six months later. It’s safe to say we’re all glad she did.
A Fateful Encounter on the Tennis Court
One Christmas vacation, she had a chance meeting with a tennis teacher by the name of Chuck Binder that completely changed the course of her life. Chuck was also a scouting agent, and after seeing Jamie on the tennis court, he mentioned that Universal was looking for someone to play Nancy Drew. He suggested that she try out. Jamie had never considered acting before, but for some reason, she felt compelled to audition for the role.
Although she didn’t land the part, producers were impressed by her performance and offered her a 7-year contract to play in a different show called “Operation Petticoat.” But the rising star didn’t have much time to get too excited over this lavish deal, and after two seasons, she and twelve other actors from the show were laid off. Out of a job and devastated, Jamie recalls thinking, “it was the end of my life.” Little did she know, her early release from the contract was a blessing in disguise.
Horror Runs in The Family
If you’ve ever watched “Psycho,” you probably have Janet Leigh’s grueling shower scene well imprinted in your mind. It seems like the original scream queen passed that terrific horror on to her daughter because, in 1978, Jamie landed the role of Laurie Strode in the sensational and terrifying film “Halloween.” Produced by John Carpenter, “Halloween” proved to be the ultimate horror story, and Jamie Lee was the perfect pick for the lead.
The movie was filmed in 17 days, and according to Jamie, the process was not only extremely exciting but challenging. The scenes were shot out of order, so she found herself screaming one moment, only to be looking solemnly out the window in the other. We never would have guessed; her performance was spectacular in all the scenes.
Becoming an Iconic Scream Queen
Halloween catapulted Jamie to the forefront of Hollywood and earned her the title of the new “Scream Queen” in town. This led to a surge in offers by film directors, all eager to work with the competent horror actress. She has played the lead in many horror films like “Terror Train,” “Prom Night,” and John Carpenter’s subsequent movie “The Fog.”
She reunited with the “Halloween” director in 1981 to film the continuation of the goring franchise, and even though many agreed that the sequel didn’t match up to the original film, it was still nice to see Laurie Strode back in action. Jamie was simply born to scream.
She Genuinely Gets Scared
With such an impressive streak of horror movies, it’s easy to think that Jamie spends all her evenings curled up in the darkness of her room frantically reading Stephen King novels. But surprisingly, Jamie isn’t a fan of the genre at all. Gore just doesn’t do it for her.
She admits that “I do not like horror movies. I do not say this for a joke, although it gets a good laugh, I really don’t. There’s nothing I like about being scared.” She claims that she gets scared easily and has felt that way since she was a child. Loud noises and suspense throw her off every time.
Breaking Free from the World of Horror
Being typecasted poses a threat to any actor, and Jamie knew she had it in her to branch out and express her skills in other genres as well. She was honored for the recognition “Halloween” gave her and the amazing opportunities that came with it, but she didn’t want to be pigeonholed into solely those types of roles.
She noted, “After I made Halloween, I could have kept on making horror films and could have made a lot of money. But I knew that I would find it impossible to break free from that genre. So, I decided to say no.” Jamie was quick to understand that if you want to break out of your established image, you’d better go to the other extreme, which in her case, was comedy.
Becoming Ophelia and Snatching Awards
She put all her efforts into finding a role that would display the jokester she truly was, and in 1983 she landed a part in the comedy hit “Trading Places,” where she played alongside two major comedy actors at the time, Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy. Branching out into a different genre paid off, and people admired her impeccable capacity to completely switch gears and take on distinctive roles.
She made the crowd laugh, and “Trading Places” was a box office success, becoming the fourth highest grossing film of 1983 in the US. Her acting skills earned her the British Film and Television Award for best supporting actress. It’s an impressive achievement and one that clearly signifies her competence in taking on roles from all areas of the entertainment spectrum.
She Knew She Was Going to Marry Her Husband Before They Met
Jamie can do a good job of advocating the notion of “manifestation” because believe it or not, she knew she would marry her husband, Christopher Guest, even before they met. She caught a glimpse of him as she was flipping through a Rolling Stone magazine and jokingly declared to her friend, “I’m going to marry that guy.”
Turns out, both she and Christopher were signed with the same agency, so she shyly threw in her number for them to pass it on, hoping he’d give her a call. At first, he didn’t call back, but she ended up running in to him at a restaurant, where he gladly greeted her. A few months later, they were married.
The Most Profound Moment of Her Life
Eager to expand their family, the couple adopted their first daughter, Annie, shortly after she was born in December 1986. Jamie marked it as “the most profound, non-describable event of my life.” But new life as a mother came with challenging moments, especially for a hardworking actress like herself.
She recalls moments on the set of “My Memory of a Fish Called Wanda,” where she consistently cried on the way to and from work. Leaving a six-month-old daughter for twelve hours each day is more than enough to cause distress to any parent. We salute Jamie for her crazy ability to balance her responsibilities.
She’s Most Comfortable with Baggy Shorts and Her Husband’s T-Shirt
A well-known fact about Hollywood (and showbiz in particular) is that looks play a major role in the lives of starlets. Jamie Lee’s acting skills were on point, and she delivered the character wonderfully no matter what movie she took on, but the hype surrounding her became very appearance-oriented, which at times made her feel uncomfortable.
She found comments surrounding her womanhood to be awkward and incompatible with how she viewed herself. She mentioned she was more of a “baggy shorts and odd T-shirts taken from my husband” sort of girl. With a lot of emphasis on “girl, a semi-geeky girl that puts on womanly things only when she goes to work.”
She Had to Deal with Some Upsetting Comments
A lot of talk about appearance is bound to sink in and cause moments of insecurity, so it’s only reasonable that Jamie had her moments of low self-esteem. In a business where you’re expected to look camera ready at any given moment, Jamie had to deal with some hurtful and ridiculous comments from the people she worked with.
She mentioned that on the set of the movie “Perfect,” the cameraman shot her a glance and rapidly concluded that he couldn’t go forward with filming her because of her “puffy eyes.” Vulnerable and taken aback, she immediately went under the knife for an eye job. Not only was the surgery completely unnecessary, but it opened the door to further dissatisfaction and introduced her to “Vicodin,” a drug that would spiral her into some difficult years.
A Painful Addiction
Jamie underwent a few cosmetic surgeries in her life in order to improve her self-esteem, but she concluded that “None of it works.” One of the repercussions of her procedures was that she began taking pain killers and became terribly dependent on them. They began to serve as a way of numbing whatever mental affliction she was experiencing, and she was able to hide this from the people around her for over 10 years.
If you’re wondering how she hid it for so long, it was because, according to her, she was a “wildly controlled drug addict, never doing it at work or before 5pm.” In the end, a friend caught her in the kitchen, taking a few pills, and that was the first time she openly admitted having a problem.
One of Her Greatest Achievements
Jamie has been sober for more than twenty years now, and she built up the strength to do so after reading an article in Esquire magazine by Tom Chiarella. He spoke about his addiction, and his story seemed to sink in and resonate deeply with what Jamie was going through. For the first time, she understood she wasn’t alone.
She considers her sobriety as one of her biggest accomplishments and cherishes the clear mind she has developed ever since. When she was asked to open up about the topic in an interview for Variety, she quickly agreed, knowing that her words may reach someone who is currently struggling, as Tom’s words reached her.
I Said Put the Gun Down Now!
Jamie ended up having the (albeit glamorized) taste of law enforcement she had wished for as a kid when she took on the role of police officer Megan Turner in the film Blue Steel in 1990. Her character was accused of killing an unarmed man, and the movie takes the viewer through a suspenseful and action-packed venture across New York.
Blue Steel steered her away from horror and comedy and into the tense, dramatic world of action movies. The film was well received and added to her already colorful image as an actress. Even though some considered the movie to be a “horror” film, Jamie clearly stated that she would classify it more as an action thriller. She’s had her fair share of gory, bloody scenes, so we’ll take her word for it.
She Paid Macaulay Culkin on the Set of My Girl
Another twist in Jamie’s career was her role in the coming of age movie, “My Girl,” a film that easily taps into sweet, childhood memories of bike riding, tree climbing, and naive love. Jaime played the role of makeup artist Shelly Devoto and her performance, yet again, proves how dynamic and clever she is as an actress.
While the movie itself is moving and sure to leave you teary eyed, things on set were a bit more vulgar. Jamie has a tendency of blurting out harsh words here and there, so she insisted that a swear jar be placed for her to pay off her dues whenever she accidentally cursed. Who received the money, you ask? None other than Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky.
Connecting with Her Father and Her Roots
Despite Jamie’s complicated relationship with her father, their Hungarian Jewish heritage brought them together in 1990 when they decided to help reconstruct the Great Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary. It was originally built in 1859, but the Nazi raids during WWII left it in a deteriorated state.
The largest synagogue in Europe today, this historic building’s renovation took three years and was actualized with the help of many Jewish Americans, including Estee Lauder and the Curtis duo, who, despite their differences, were able to put things aside for this restoration to become a reality.
She Slipped While Dancing with the Austrian Oak
Jamie joined forces with the hefty Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “True Lies,” a film involving spies, stunts, and some tango dancing. She describes her collaboration with the former body builder as “the best time ever.” Their time on set led to quite a few memorable moments, both on and off the screen.
Who can forget the famous scene where they elegantly dance and swiftly snatch the rose from each other’s mouths? Jamie learned the moves quickly, but nevertheless, she ended up slipping in one of the scenes, but she bounced back so gracefully that it was added to the final script. “True Lies” earned her numerous awards, including the “Saturn Award for Best Actress” and “Golden Globe Award for Best Actress” in the comedy genre.
She’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s Godmother
Jamie’s close friendship with Jake Gyllenhaal’s parents led him to become her “unofficial godson.” The two are extremely close and have been good friends ever since he was a little kid. Throughout the years, they’ve exchanged valuable advice with one another, each one viewing life from a different lens.
When Jamie was debating whether to return to the “Halloween” franchise for an additional movie in 2018, she turned to Jake for advice, and lucky for us, he answered she should definitely go forward with it. As Jamie was going through the film’s script, she was already tempted to agree, but Jake’s final words of encouragement were just the push she needed.
Cosplaying with Her Son
Ten years after adopting Annie, they happily made the decision to expand the family and welcomed a baby boy by the name of Thomas. The new household addition took a bit of time to get used to, especially for his older sister, Annie, who was used to being the only child around.
But a bond quickly formed, and Tom brought a lot of light and joy into the house. Jamie and Tom share a lot in common, like their love for video games. They even attended the World of War Craft premiere in Cosplay together as Orcs. When asked about the event, she said, “We’re serious about our games.”
Swapping Bodies with Lindsay Lohan
For many millennials, this movie might have been their first encounter with the talented star. Freaky Released in 2003, Freaky Friday was Disney’s film adaptation of the original 1976 film and the novel written in 1972. Jamie starred beside Lindsay Lohan, putting on a spectacular performance as her mom who ends up in a freakish body swapping ordeal.
Her ability to act out as a rebellious teenager was spectacular and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. When asked about her character, she mentioned that playing an adolescent reminded her of how tough those years can really be, and having a daughter the same age as her co-star Lindsay Lohan really got her thinking of the things she’s currently going through. The film itself did really well, and it received a lot of positive reviews from critics and praise for both leading actresses.
Her Daughter Inspired Her to Write a Book
Jamie’s journey into the world of writing caught her completely off guard but felt very right. It all began with a few words her daughter uttered in contemplation: “When I was little, I wore a diaper, but now I use a big-girl potty.” This got Jamie thinking of how her four-year-old daughter was slowly developing a complex mind of her own, with an ability to reflect on the past.
That inspired Jamie to write her book, “When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.” She sent it to a literary agent in New York, who then sold it to Harper Collins. Since then, Jamie has written numerous children’s books that are creative, eye-opening, and a sweet read for both parents and children.
The Ingenious Dipe and Wipe
The infamous scream queen is an artist, always looking for different ways to communicate her creative ideas to the world. In 1987 she came up with a clever and convenient patent for parents all over the world. If you have babies around the house, you’ll appreciate this one. Imagine a diaper that saves you the hassle of looking around for baby wipes.
That’s right, Jamie designed a diaper with built-in pockets carrying just the accessory you need. She named this ingenious invention “Dipe and Wipe,” and many companies took an interest in developing it. But in those years, biodegradable baby wipes weren’t yet an option, so Jamie felt it wasn’t the ideal time to put the idea to work.
She Wrote Her Own Movie Script
As she slowly grew as an author, it was only natural that her writing skills would branch out into the world of scriptwriting, connecting her love of acting and the written word. She began to work on a screenplay for a film titled “The Myth” and had plans on producing it through her production company.
The movie was supposed to follow a series of natural disasters occurring simultaneously around the world and the desperate attempt to survive them. Earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, tsunamis, and people hanging on for dear life? Sounds like a brilliant premise. Too bad it never came out; we would have loved some thrilling material written by the scream queen herself.
A Powerful Play
The play “8” was bold and intelligent, and Jamie Lee was proud to be one of the many actors associated with it. It portrayed the federal trial that dealt with Proposition 8, an amendment banning same sex marriages. Jamie joined a large cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Martin Sheen, to reenact the characters involved in the trial.
The play first premiered in September 2011 and was later broadcasted worldwide in March 2012. A performance filled with loaded issues and clashing ideologies, this play drew in a lot of attention. But Jamie doesn’t shy away from controversial thoughts and raised eyebrows, she follows her heart, and we’re glad to see her do so.
She’s Glad to Share the Title with Her Best Friend
Jamie isn’t the only one praised for being a brilliant horror chick. Sigourney Weaver made quite an impact after her fantastic performances on “Aliens.” Add to that some freaky moments from Ghostbusters, and you have yourself yet another “Scream Queen” worth mentioning. Both iconic actresses came together to play rivals in the film You Again, but did they clash in real life as well?
Not at all. The actresses mentioned in an interview that they bonded tremendously during the shooting of the film and even appeared in the same dress for the movie’s premiere in Los Angeles. Most women would be angry to see their outfit on someone else, but these two friends purposely shared the fashion. They’re extremely supportive of one another, even though Jamie admits she doesn’t dare watch any of the “Alien” movies.
Becoming British Royalty
Jamie is no stranger to the notion of “royalty.” When you’re born to famous parents in Hollywood, it’s an inevitable fate to be considered as such. That being said, marrying her husband Christopher Guest meant she was now European royalty as well. To be specific, she holds the title of Baroness Haden-Guest.
Following the death of her father-in-law in 1996, the title of Baron was passed down to Christopher, and he became the Fifth Baron Haden-Guest. Chris speaks freely about his royalty and what the title means to him, but he humbly adds that he “was simply born to it, completely by accident.” We have a feeling that Jamie shares his modest view.
The Richest Legs Around
One look at Jamie in fitness clothes makes it perfectly clear why she insured her legs for $2.8 million dollars when she became the spokeswoman for “L’eggs” in 1996. Although her talent as an actress was evident, her good looks were undeniable and stole the show in many cases.
Casually flaunting leg warmers, pantyhose, and tight body suits, Jamie’s gorgeous legs meant a lot to the company and to her (for obvious reasons other than beauty). Although it seems like a bizarre idea to have your body part insured, if you’re the spokeswoman for a company titled that body part, it starts to make a bit more sense.
My Hand in Yours
Jamie’s writings radiate kindness, but her love for children goes beyond the pages of her books. She’s an active member of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and has founded “My Hand in Yours,” an organization that raises money for children in need. Whatever product you buy from MHIY, whether a blanket or a notebook, goes straight to the “emotional DNA of the recipient…and strengthen the bond we as human beings share.”
Jamie is in close contact with the hospital. She helps with funding from afar and arrives in person in order to spread some laughter and magic in the air. She even wore a blue cape and mask at one of the hospital’s events as a way of paying tribute to the heroic work of the staff. She’s a real-life superwoman.
She Would Like to See More Women in Politics
Time and again, Jamie has stressed the power women have to take control of their own lives as well as better the lives of others. She proudly states her opinion on the importance of women in politics and believes that since many women become mothers, they can provide a different take on situations and offer opinions that derive from genuine care for their children and the environment they’re raised in.
She has also become a role model for many women struggling with addiction and depression and has helped fund several organizations treating those in need of empowerment. Due to her philanthropic work, she was named guest of honor in the 11th annual fundraiser for an organization called “Women in Recovery.”
A Work in Progress
Thanks to her inspiring philanthropic work and incredible acting skills, Curtis is complimented daily by the people she meets. But only recently has she been able to politely accept kind words without laughing or shaking them off. She considers herself a work in progress, and she slowly owns up to the incredible artist she truly is.
She once mentioned that the biggest tragedy is to leave earth before having expressed your creative ideas, and her motto is, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” There’s no doubt the adversities she’s weathered have made her a wiser human being. Born as the “daughter of,” she’s proven throughout the years to be a tremendously dynamic actress, a kindhearted author, and, in her words, a work in progress.