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.
In her feature film debut, the 19-year-old Curtis starred as virginal babysitter Laurie Strode, one of the targets of Michael Myers.
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.
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.
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 co-starred with John Travolta in this critical and commercial flop about the rise of health clubs among single people in 1970s Los Angeles.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.
2008 (Beverly Hills Chihuahua)
So uh, this happened.
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 Musical) You 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.
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.
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!