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Jamie Lee Curtis: The Scream Queen Through the Years

Is there a better Scream Queen than Jamie Lee Curtis? While that may be a discussion for a different article, my answer is no. The 57-year-old actress has had a storied career ever since her feature film debut in John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween. Since it’s October, we thought we’d take a look at the actress and some of the milestones of her 38-year-old career.

1978 (Halloween)

In her feature film debut, the 19-year-old Curtis starred as virginal babysitter Laurie Strode, one of the targets of Michael Myers.

jamie lee curtis halloween

1980 (The Fog, Terror Train Prom Night)

Curtis starred in three horror films in 1980: The Fog, Terror Train and Prom Night. These films pretty much cemented her status as a “Scream Queen.” You may not have known (or maybe you did, if you read Bloody-Disgusting regularly) that she also hosted Saturday Night Live on December 13th of that year.

Jamie lee curtis 1980

1981 (Halloween II)

Otherwise known as the film where Jamie Lee Curtis wears that atrocious wig. Because Halloween II picks up right where the original left off, Laurie Strode had to have long hair. Curtis had already cut her hair short by the time film started production so she had to wear a wig for continuities sake. You almost wish they would have come up with a reason for the doctors to cut Laurie’s hair, but whatever.

Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween II

1983 (Trading Places)

Curtis turned in a star-making turn in the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd comedy as Ophelia, the prostitute with a heart of gold. She won the British Academy award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.

jamie lee curtis trading places

1984 (Perfect)

Jamie Lee Curtis co-starred with John Travolta in this critical and commercial flop about the rise of health clubs among single people in 1970s Los Angeles.

jamie lee curtis 1984

1988 (A Fish Called Wanda)

Curtis was nominated for a British Academy Award for her performance as con artist Wanda Gershwitz, but once again was snubbed at the American Academy Awards (shockingly, Curtis has never been nominated for an American Academy Award).

jamie lee curtis 1988

1991 (My Girl)

Full confession: My Girl was my introduction to Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis re-teamed with her Trading Places co-star Dan Aykroyd in this story about a young girl’s (Anna Chlumsky) maturation into adulthood.

jamie lee curtis 1991

1994 (Mother’s Boys)

Another one of Curtis’s flops (it only made about $800,000 domestically) saw her playing a psychotic mother who is willing to murder to get her husband and three sons back.

jamie lee curtis 1993

1994 (True Lies)

Did you know that if you Google image search “Jamie Lee Curtis True Lies” the first 50 or so pictures are all from the same scene? Guess which scene it is. Anyway, True Lies is awesome. Curtis is great in it. Schwarzenegger is in his element. Director James Cameron is at his most playful. The  141-minutes runtime may be a little excessive, but it’s hard not to have a blast with True Lies.

jamie lee curtis 1994

1998 (Halloween: H20)

Curtis returned for the seventh entry in the Halloween franchise to finish what she had started 20 years earlier. Directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part II and Part III), H20 is a fun ride but far too short for being the big reunion between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Still, you can tell Curtis is having a ball and her performance makes the film worth watching (John Ottman’s score isn’t half bad either).

jamie lee curtis 1998

1999 (Virus)

Curtis doesn’t think very highly of this adaptation of Chuck Pfarrer’s comic book, claiming that it is the worst  film she ever made. Maybe skip this one if it ever hits Netflix, okay?

jamie lee curtis 1999

2000 (Drowning Mona)

Television director Nick Gomez directed this black comedy that is essentially a 30-minute sitcom episode stretched out to feature length. It eventually wears thin but the film, about a hateful and unpopular woman (Bette Midler) who dies under mysterious circumstances, does have its moments. Curtis gets to have fun playing a white trash waitress with a mullet, so there’s that.

jamie lee curtis 2000

2002 (Halloween: Resurrection)

Kill it! Kill it with fire! I jest, sort of. Halloween: Resurrection is not a good movie, and Curtis’s presence in it is sort of mind-boggling. Sure, her Laurie Strode gets killed in the first scene (something I like to pretend never happened), but one has to wonder why she agreed to be in this turd. I guess she wanted to make sure she couldn’t be brought back for any future sequels.

jamie lee curtis 2002

2003 (Freaky Friday)

Aka one of the best remakes ever made. I’m not even kidding. Freaky Friday is a genuinely good film and it’s actually the third adaptation of Mary Rodgers’s children’s novel. A pre-crazy Lohan is surprisingly good, but it is Curtis who steals the show playing a teenager trapped in her mother’s body (the moms always get to have more fun in the Freaky Friday films). Her skills as a comedienne have never been put to better use.

jamie lee curtis 2003

2008 (Beverly Hills Chihuahua)

So uh, this happened.

jamie lee curtis 2008

2010 (You Again)

Jamie Lee Curtis got to co-star with Sigourney Weaver, another famous Scream Queen, in Andy Fickman’s (Reefer Madness: The Movie MusicalYou Again, which also stars Kristen Bell, Betty White and Odette Yustman. It’s fluff, but it’s harmless and entertaining fluff. You just can’t help but laugh when Weaver walks out in the same dress that Curtis is wearing. And at least everyone on screen seems to be having a good time.

jamie lee curtis 2010

2014 (Veronica Mars)

Curtis took a bit part in the movie sequel to the (absolutely amazing) Veronica Mars television series, playing a lawyer who was considering hiring Veronica (Kristen Bell). Of course, if you’ve seen the show or the movie, you know that Veronica was born to be a private investigator. It’s surprising to see Curtis in what is essentially a cameo appearance, but it is still a fun bit of casting.

jamie lee curtis 2014

2015 (Scream Queens)

Curtis’s latest role is that of Cathy Munsch, the manipulative Dean of Wallace University and now head doctor of the C.U.R.E. Institute Hospital. Curtis really gets to let loose in the Ryan Murphy series and it’s a treat to watch. Those expecting a serious slasher series were no doubt disappointed by Scream Queens, but those who were seeking a humorous Airplane!-style romp no doubt found a lot to enjoy about Scream Queens. I know I did!

jamie lee curtis 2015



  • Matt

    Nice little retrospective. A couple of quick comments; 1. Perfect may have been a flop, but man, she was smokin’ hot in that one. 2. I may be the only one, but I actually liked (and own) Virus. I thought it was a fun little sci-fi flick.

    • Rick-Taylor

      You and I are the only ones that like Virus. I don’t get why everyone hates it. I thought it was very creative and put a few good spins on some cliches.

  • TheTwoJakes

    Fierce Creatures which was a semi follow up to Fish Called Wanda is actually a pretty funny movie. It never gets any love!

    • I still need to see that. I honestly didn’t even know it existed until recently. I LOVE AFCW.

    • Grimphantom

      Not to mention that Jamie Lee Curtis look really hot in that movie. I found it hilarious at the middle of the movie.

  • Kevin Allmon

    Loving season 2 of Scream Queens..They have actually upped the scariness this season!!

  • Grimphantom

    I won’t deny it, i always found Jamie Lee Curtis attractive. She can look simple in some movies but in others she looks really hot i mean look at in that leotard. Even when you she looks older she still looks attractive as we see in the movie You Again.

  • Randy Moses

    I’m sending extra love out for Jamie Lee in The Fog:
    Are you weird?
    Yes, I am. Yes, I am weird.
    You are weird. Thank God you’re weird. The last one was so normal, it was disgusting

  • Vincent Kane

    She is one of the hottest ugly woman ever but I love her so much. All cards on the table, Freaky Friday with her and Lohan is one of my favorite guilty pleasures…

    • Doesn’t have to be guilty! It’s a legitimately good movie!

  • the usual suspect

    Personally Jamie Lee gets prettier with age. I am 35 and I am not afraid to admit that

    • Rick-Taylor

      I understand your statement, but our opinions vary. I believe she is at her most attractive in Trading Places. And not just because she is topless in it, although it does help.

  • Halloween_Vic

    Love her and definitely my favorite actress. Funny literally my first time seeing her was in the original Halloween which is also my favorite movie of all time so there’s that. But she definitely is the original scream queen and jokes aside is great as a comedian actress as well, true lies and freaky Friday are iconic tbh. So happy she’s back with scream queens. Here’s hoping for her to return to Halloween somehow lol (I know, I know one can dream.)

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  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    I couldn’t believe how hot JLC was in True Lies. I had never looked at her with sexual fantasies in mind till that one. After that, it was all I saw whenever I looked at her. If I had to pick a close second, hotness-wise, honestly, it’d be Halloween Resurrection. There’s something about that mature expression coupled with the tank she’s sporting in the pic above. And the wig? Even better. Tasty.

    Sidenote; Surprised to read about your dislike for Resurrection, Trace.

    • It just REALLY hate how they handled her character. I really don’t mind the rest of the movie. It’s entertaining and a product of its time. But I hate what they did to Laurie

      • Flu-Like Symptoms

        Agree with Laurie. After all she had been through, her decision-making in Resurrection was idiotic. Her plan of dropping Michael off the top of a building and expecting it to kill him was stupid. Her being fooled by Michael and letting her guard down was absolutely atrocious. The Laurie of the previous three movies she’d been in never would’ve done any of that. I get that JLC’s personal mission was to get killed off, but it didn’t have to directly translate to her character’s actions and look that obvious.

    • pablitonizer

      You should all watch this,in here she explains why she killed off laurie strode in Halloween:resurrection it’s a very very interesting explanation on how movie industry works! starts at 34:00 ENJOY!!

      • Evan3

        Awesome find. Thanks for sharing!

  • David Ayala

    You forgot Blue Steel where she sleeps with a serial killer. One of my Favs.

  • silentevil77

    Always loved Jamie she is hysterical on scream queens

  • Frankie Ramos

    Her portrayal of Laurie Strode is so iconic. I love that she is one of the original scream queens in horror and that she is on Scream Queens! She is so great on there <3 She is actually going to be at Entertainment Weekly's PopFest on the 30th in Los Angeles and I can't believe I'll get to see her, Emma Roberts and Lea Michele in person!


    Great article. I love Jamie Lee Curtis and her amazing body 😀 One of my favorite actresses.

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