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Why hasn’t Laurie simply left Haddonfield? Allow Jamie Lee Curtis to explain.
On February 1st of this year, I found myself sitting at a table inside a stranger’s house, situated in a neighborhood that didn’t look too different from the original Halloween‘s fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. In actuality, California doubled for Illinois back in 1978, and in 2018, it was in South Carolina that Haddonfield came back to life.
“Surreal” is the only word I can use to describe what happened next. Jamie Lee Curtis, though she wasn’t even scheduled to shoot any scenes on that day, walked into the room in her full Laurie Strode costume, long hair and all. Before any of us journalists on set could even think it, Curtis said it herself: “How fucking crazy is this?”
Forty years after the original film, Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the role of Laurie Strode in David Gordon Green’s Halloween, releasing October 19, and Curtis showed up on set on the day of February 1st not to film but rather to shoot the shit with a fandom she’s come to embrace with all her heart over the years. It was her choice to show up for her interview in full costume as Laurie Strode, a clear sign that Curtis knew all of us were in store for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and wanted to ensure we’d never forget it.
For a solid hour, Curtis dug deep into the mind of Laurie Strode, explaining to us that the Laurie of 1978 is a distant memory. And the Laurie of 2018 has one driving force: Kill. Michael. Myers. In essence, based on what Curtis explained to us, it seemed clear to me that the Laurie Strode we’re meeting in 2018 is not unlike the Dr. Loomis we met in 1978.
“She is prepared to deal with Michael Myers to the degree that she can,” Curtis said of 2018 Laurie. “What she can do is prepare herself everyday of her life for the absolute eventual re-connection with [Michael]. She is convinced [he’s coming back]. She tries to convince everybody. The reason that her daughter was taken from her is because she was so mono focused on this eventual conclusion, that he would come back. As you can imagine, [she’s become] a very paranoid woman.”
Curtis dug deeper, “I think for Laurie Strode, society has not been kind to her. The thing I really wanted to talk about in H20, that theme that we went for in that movie, is going to be at play here in a big way, which is trauma. I have a friend of mine who is a doctor, a neuropsychologist, and they are studying stress and trauma now in children; whatever the trauma, be it abuse, physical or emotional violence, whatever it is, the effect changes your brain chemistry. So for me what’s crucial is that level of trauma had an effect on this woman who is now fifty eight years old and that trauma for her is this perseverating sense of eventuality that he will come back and that every day of her life has been in preparation for that meeting. She lives alone, she has tried to live in society but society has not been welcoming. There were not a lot of mental health professionals helping this young woman. She banged her way into her life, she slammed into people, institutions, law enforcement, and they hate her because she calls the police every day, says ‘Do you have somebody patrolling Smith’s Grove? I was out there, I actually sat in my car all day outside of Smith’s Grove and I didn’t see one cop car. Why is that? Why aren’t you treating him with the respect that you should treat him?’”
“That’s where we find her: a woman who is still daily obsessed. I don’t think she has left Haddonfield in forty years,” Curtis added, agreeing with the suggestion that, like Dr. Loomis all those years ago, Laurie has become the new protector of Haddonfield.
Not only are we reuniting with Laurie Strode this year but we’re also meeting her daughter, Karen Strode (Judy Greer), as well as her granddaughter, Allyson Strode (Andi Matichak). But Curtis made it clear that though Laurie may have found the time to have a daughter, there was never truly a point in her life where Michael wasn’t her main focus.
“Have you ever had a sexual encounter that was brief, somewhat fast and furious and then you never saw that person again?” Curtis asked the room. “I can’t imagine one of us in this room has not had one of those. Well, for you to assume that Laurie has a satisfying relationship with somebody is an assumption. Laurie Strode, I believe, doesn’t even know who the father of her daughter is. So I don’t think Laurie’s had… nobody could have a satisfying emotional relationship with a woman who is looking over their shoulder every moment they’re together. It’s that assumption that she’s had some sort of relationship; she hasn’t, and that’s why we find her in this isolated place that she’s living, in this sort of militaristic mindset.”
Laurie Strode may *look* different when we catch back up with her this coming October, but Curtis describes that she’s still mentally trapped in 1978, in many ways. It’s for this reason that Laurie was never able to be a great mother to Karen, but at the same time, that arrested development has allowed her to bond with Allyson, who is something of a young Laurie.
“You know, when trauma happens you freeze. We can look at it through history: when something really bad happens you calcify emotionally,” she told us. “The Laurie we’re going to meet is fifty nine, but is in a weird way [still] seventeen. So I think she actually responded much better with a granddaughter than her own daughter. I think with her own daughter she was dysfunctional in her raising of her because of this obsession of safety but because her granddaughter wasn’t raised by her, she can connect to the granddaughter.”
One of the most interesting things Curtis touched upon in our chat is that though the Laurie of 2018 is proficient at firing a gun and hellbent on protecting her family and the entire town of Haddonfield from Michael Myers’ wrath, it was her own decision to not make Laurie too much of a gun-toting “badass.” In her eyes, that’s not who Laurie ever was.
“Laurie wasn’t a badass, Laurie was a nerd,” Curtis explained to us. “She’s smart and she survived and in that she’s badass. But you know, her poking [Michael] with the [hanger] was just an instinct and in this movie, I also don’t want her to be a badass. I want her to be prepared. I want her to still be who she is but prepared; she’s not Linda Hamilton, I don’t have those arms. She was strong because she was smart. Education I think gives you strength. It’s not muscles, it’s brains. So I’ve tried not to become some badass bitch because I don’t think that’s correct. [Laurie’s] pedantic, she’s mono focused, she’s annoying as hell and in her living she has become proficient with weapons.”
She continued, “It’s tricky because we’ve turned strong women into superhero women and that isn’t what makes a woman strong. We’re not talking about physical strength, we’re talking about intelligence and wile and all the beautiful things that make a smart woman so dynamic. So I’m hoping to fight against becoming too much of a badass and keep the integrity of [Laurie’s] intelligence that I have brought into this piece. I fought for that.”
“We will, I hope, have a beautiful conclusion to Laurie Strode’s story,” Curtis told us.