Entering the driveway of Jamie Lee Curtis's house on the west side of Los Angeles, I run into his dog Runi, a rescue terrier poodle who walks down the stairs like a lively ball of fluff, wagging his tail. Curtis is not far behind, walking towards me as if we were already old friends. She is tall and thin, and her gaze is intense, in a good way. Upstairs, in her kitchen, she prepares a cappuccino and serves me a tall glass of mint water and we start talking. She brings her new movie. Hallowe'en, a new imagination of the grandfather of the contemporary horror film, and the book he's reading about the First World War, as well as about trauma and healing and the state of America, and we're both getting excited, and more than one hour has passed. before I even thought about turning on my recorder. Everything she says is absolutely sincere: about herself, the world in which we live and her long career.
It is a career spanning four decades of roles in television and film. The original Hallowe'en was the one that made her a star in 1978. Her performance as Laurie Strode, a teenage nanny who was chased by the killer Michael Myers, and the series of horror films in which she subsequently starred won the Scream Queen title, although He is also a star. been in many other types of movies: the Oscar nominated theft comedy A fish called wanda and James Cameron's action thriller. True Lies, in which he presented a now iconic striptease, and the 2003 Disney remake of Strange Friday, in which she changed body with Lindsay Lohan. On the way, she also did many other things: she wrote 13 books for children, became an accomplished photographer, got sober and spoke openly about it, invented a diaper with a built-in wipes pocket (seriously) and formed a family, He married the beloved writer and director Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman), with whom he has two children. All this helped to turn her into an icon, at the same time open and relatable.
But Hallowe'en it's what started it all, which makes this new storytelling a full-circle moment for Curtis. It could have seemed risky to exhume what was, for some, a tired franchise. But Jake Gyllenhaal, Curtis's godson, encouraged her to do so; He told him about the director David Gordon Green, with whom he had worked in the film Stronger. Green sent Curtis the script for this new one. Hallowe'en. "I understood immediately what he was trying to do," she says. "This did not start as a franchise, that word did not exist! It was a little horror movie about nannies." Green's vision was to clean the slate, as if the many other sequelae and derivations of the Hallowe'en History, both those who presented Curtis and those who did not, never happened. "In this universe, something happened 40 years ago," says Curtis, "and 40 years later, we'll see what happened to that girl." Now Strode is older and wiser, although her daughter Karen (Judy Greer believes that Laurie is paranoid and hysterical to be convinced that the man who terrorized her as a teenager will one day come back to haunt her.) Even Laurie's granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak ) is a bit worried about her, but when a bus carrying Myers, who is in prison since then, crashes and escapes, on Halloween night, of course, exactly four decades since the events of the first film, Their worst fears are confirmed.
For Curtis, who is not a fan of horror movies as a genre: "I do not like them at all!" She says. Hallowe'en It represented a way of telling a story about trauma, especially the many types that women endure. "The movements of #MeToo and #TimesUp, all of this, are the result of the generational and systematic abuse of women and the trauma generated by abuse in a person," he says. Yes, it's a slasher movie, and one in which teenagers, like adults, are destroyed by a masked psychopath who carries knives. But it is also a film that is curious about how people face each other, even many years after being traumatized, and about the nebulous borderline between anxiety and paranoia when you have a very good reason to be afraid. When Laurie cheats at home before an attack, she's not crazy: she's just preparing for the inevitability of a bad man coming back for her.
It helps that, unlike many horror movies, including several in the Hallowe'en franchise: this new one manages to be shameless, intelligent and genuinely terrifying. The script is laughter with funny laughs. However, there was also room for Curtis to play with this character who since then became the archetype of the "final girl": the heroine of the horror movie who finds a way to survive. During the shoot, Green called her one morning to tell her that she was building a shot where Laurie sees the news that Myers has run away, and asked Curtis what he thought Laurie was doing at the time. "And I was like that," says Curtis, and she snaps her fingers. "She's making Nesquik strawberry milk because she's still frozen at 17, when she used to make strawberry milk in the morning." This attention to detail, this consideration for how life would be for a character who survived something so terrible, is what excites her. "I came back from this movie to remember, this can be super fun, creative and collaborative!" He encouraged her so much that she came home and wrote a script for an eco-horror movie she plans to direct. "It took me to a creative space," she says.
The creative spaces are familiar to Curtis, who grew up in Hollywood, the daughter of legendary actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. But she is so fickle when she talks about her other interests as she is talking about her movies. The issue of his recovery from an analgesic addiction, which he calls "the biggest thing I'll do in my life," leads to a conversation about the opioid epidemic in the United States, and we talked for a long time about his last episode. children book, Me, Myselfie and me: a caution story, about a mother who is obsessed with documenting the life of her family. "I am terrified by social networks, the obsession with our cured lives," he says. "I do not proselytize, because I also face that! How fast you can press the small reinforcement button that illuminates you, the idea that we can no longer look at our beings without varnish at all." A selfie is, by nature, loving, but it has become self-deprecating. " I leave home with no less than four books that she wants me to read, including the book of the First World War. Wade Davis' Into the Silence. (She bought several copies to give to friends, as she does with many books she loves.)
A few weeks later, Hallowe'en It opens up to enthusiastic reviews and takes a monster to the box office, earning more than $ 77.5 million. Mark several milestones, including the biggest opening of the horror movie with a female protagonist and the opening of the highest grossing film with a female protagonist over 55. When Curtis posted on Twitter about these record statistics, his tweet goes viral . He writes to me from Australia, where he makes a press for the film. "It's a story with a happy ending," she says. "In my industry, this does not happen very often, if it does, and the fact that I'm getting this opportunity, since I'm kissing at 60, is beyond my wildest dreams, I'm the luckiest girl. of the world ". And he sends me a selfie with the Sydney Opera House in the background. It does not look too filtered, but she's still shining.
This appears in the November 05, 2018 edition of TIME.