Jamie Lee Curtis: The Q Interview

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The Independent Culture

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of the Hollywood screen legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. She became a star at the age of 20, with the success of the horror film Halloween, which earned her the nickname "Scream Queen". Since then she has starred in two Halloween sequels, Perfect, True Lies and A Fish Called Wanda. Her latest film is Freaky Friday, a remake of the Seventies Jodie Foster film, in which a mother switches bodies with her teenage daughter. Curtis, 45, who is also a successful children's author, lives in LA with Christopher Guest, her husband of almost 20 years, and their children Annie, 16, and Thomas, seven.

Did you see the original of Freaky Friday?

Oh sure. It makes no bones about being anything but a farce. The performances are farcical. It's all really zany, spinning around. But ultimately, at its core is loss. I believe the deepest loss a person can have is the loss of a parent. So you can have the farcical elements, the kind of "let's roll some pixie dust on this" but in the midst is a mummy and a daughter trying to reconcile the loss of a man - and that's just flat out emotional.

Did playing a teenager change your view on teens?

No, but it was a fun reminder. What I really noticed from my research was their uncertainty. If you just watch a teenager, you see a lot of uncertainty.

Could you fill your daughter Annie's shoes for a day?

Well, I could do it for a day, but I wouldn't want to be a teenager again. I really wouldn't. If I did, I'd learn a lot about myself, because I would be on the receiving end of me. And I'd learn a lot about her, because I would get to see what she does for a lot of the day.

What's your relationship with Annie like?

I wonder why my kids aren't so compliant. I mean, whatever happened to "Can I go out?" Now, it's just, "I'm going out" and I'm like, "Really? Okay." She's not doing anything bad - it's just that I'm still in the old-fashioned mind-set.

Do you think things were better when you were young?

Parents and children are more honest with each other now and that's certainly more fun than being in hard-lined generational boxes. But in the same breath, the lines are blurring in every area of intimate life - parenting, families. Society allows a mother to walk around in tight, hip-hugging Frankie B jeans and a little tank top, and for me, that's when it gets gross.

What about in marriages? Are the lines blurred there too?

Yes, most definitely. I've been happily married to Chris for almost 20 years. But marriage is not easy. You have to be extremely comfortable with who you are and you have to establish perimeters for yourself. It is the same in the relationships with your family and your friends and it can be tricky. So, am I friendly with my daughter and her friends? Yes. Am I their friend? No. Does she shut the door? Yes, and I very much support the shut door.

Does it concern you the way teenage girls dress and present themselves nowadays?

I was at a teen awards ceremony recently and I looked at these girls around me and thought, they just don't look like teenagers. They were all styled, with designer everything and they're 15 years old! I used a stylist for the first time two or three years ago and I'm 45! The only one, I've got to tell you, that wasn't styled was my daughter and I thought that she looked incredibly beautiful.

How aware are you of the effect you have on young men?

Oh please. You know, that's the one thing about the miracle of the movies. I saw Perfect the other day, and I totally hadn't seen a film of mine in a long time. I ended up watching it with my daughter and her friend, and even I was like, "Oh my God, I'm hot!" So, I understand the magic of movies. A 16-year-old boy could rent Perfect and they could see me in my hotness and go, "Yeah!"

Do you have a mantra you stick by?

Not really, but on the film I did ad-lib "Make good choices", which to me is the sort of banner to the movie. I'm hoping they will make bumper stickers that read: "Freaky Friday. Make good choices!" Every parent should be saying this to their kids, not "Don't do this." But just: "Make good choices."

What are you reading?

I just finished a biography of Marie Antoinette. I was weeping as I turned the last few pages. It was just a killer.

What's the best thing you've inherited from your parents?

Mmm. Things I share with them, I guess. My husband and I have a vacation home in the same place my parents went to all my life, and I'm grateful for that. Without them taking me there when I was little, I'm not sure I would have had that in my life.

Did growing up in a showbiz family encourage you to give your children a "normal" upbringing?

It's not some psycho-drama! I've been in showbusiness all my life, but as an actress I have never been overly driven. If I'm honest I don't think the world would miss me if I never acted again. I've always put my family first and that's just the way it is.

Tell us something about yourself that we don't know.

I can play rhythm guitar. I know how to hold a guitar and strum it.

What is your worst habit?

I talk too much.

'Freaky Friday' is released on 19 December

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