It takes a lot to scare Jamie Lee Curtis. The original scream queen and now Oscar winner certainly doesn’t get the chills from aging. She focuses on the positive.
“There is an incredible amount of knowledge that comes with the years,” the 64-year-old Curtis says.
“It’s self-knowledge and that’s so important,” she adds. “And I think our capacity to grow with the years can give us tremendous happiness. I know with age, I’m completely content just to be me right now.”
After a career spanning 40 years, she is also completely content to have what’s expected to be a big box office summer movie.
Curtis stars in Disney’s new “Haunted Mansion.” The film, opening July 28, revolves around Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), a single mom who hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her new mansion, which is brimming with ghostly figures. Curtis plays the mysterious Madame Leota.
“I have never worn such unique and gorgeous costumes,” says Curtis, who is seen in flashbacks as a full person and not just a head floating in a crystal ball.
The film also stars Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Jared Leto and Winona Ryder.
Curtis decided to lighten things up after her Oscar-winning performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as IRS inspector Deidre Beaubeirdre.
What was it like to win her first Oscar? “It felt so surreal. It was a moment and I’m so proud,” she says. “It was the thrill of my life.”
The daughter of Hollywood legends Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis lives in L.A. with her husband, actor Christopher Guest, and their two grown daughters, Annie and Ruby.
Her good life tips:
Start your day right
Curtis always has such a great attitude. She credits a morning ritual. “I wake up, stretch and then say to myself, ‘I’m awake to make this day better. I’m going to make the lives of people around me better. I will bring it. My best.’ … I still have days that aren’t so great, but I don’t dwell,” she says. “I just affirm that the next day will be better. It’s a whole new 24 hours each day, filled with possibilities.”
“When I can be free on film and in life, I’m unstoppable,” Curtis says. “That’s why I loved ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’ When I had that scene where I’m flying, I had never felt that free. Each of us has to find what makes us feel free.”
Get your sleep
“There is a point each night when I just stop,” she says. “I realize my need to sleep. But wake me up at 5 in the morning and I’m raring to go.” Curtis’ advice: “Listen to your body and get the sleep that you need.” But, she adds, “they should have concerts at 4 in the afternoon for those of us who don’t stay up late.”
Curtis doesn’t freak out about things that go bump in the night. “I can watch gore all day long,” says the star of the 1978 horror classic “Halloween.” “I could watch Linda Blair’s head spin around in ‘The Exorcist’ until it falls off. It doesn’t scare me.”
Respect your past
Janet Leigh’s daughter knows that she has good genes. “My mom is the best,” Curtis says. “My mom was from a very meager background. Nothing. And she remained so positive. She also made sure I grew up in a very normal way.”
Does she believe her parents were looking down when she won her Oscar? “I don’t believe in a world where people are up there looking down on us. I think we are them in our actions and our deeds and in our ideas. Then, we build our own life, give something to our children and the world goes on. I like to think I’m a product of my parents. … And I know they would be incredibly proud of me.”
Curtis wasn’t allowed to see her mother’s most famous film, “Psycho,” until she was in her late teens. “I remember my mother never wanting me to see it,” she laughs. “But I caught the movie on the late-late show, and I was horrified. Even worse was that my mother had one of those shot-by-shot books from ‘Psycho.’ I remember looking in that book as a little kid and freaking out.”
Curtis doesn’t mind being a role model for women of all ages. “When Michelle Yeoh won the Screen Actors Guild award and said, ‘For all the young girls who never saw someone who looked like me on the screen,’ it really hit home,” Curtis says. “I say something similar to women of a certain age and women who are my age who have been hustling in their jobs for a long time. With the Oscar, I represent the goodwill of having something lovely happen in my life at this age.”
Fall in love
Curtis saw a photo of Guest in 1984 and knew it was destiny. “I said to my friend, ‘I’m going to marry that guy in the magazine.’ They got married later that year. “The key to a great marriage is laughter,” she says. “We’re different people, but we come together with laughter.”
Their lifestyle is low-key despite their famous ZIP code. “Chris and I don’t do the social side of Hollywood at all,” Curtis says. “We live a quiet life. We don’t seek attention.”
“You’re lucky if you carry the goodwill of friends,” she says. “My friends, and of course my family, wanted the Oscar for me more than anyone else. Be grateful for the people who relate to you. You are lucky if people are rooting for you in life.”