Last girl standing again

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween Kills.
Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween Kills.
She is ready to go toe to toe with Michael Myers again, Jamie Lee Curtis tells Brian Truitt.

Forty years after the first time, much to her chagrin, Jamie Lee Curtis is back in another Halloween movie wearing another piece of emergency room fashion.

It’s admittedly not the greatest look, no matter if you’re a legendary horror heroine or a muscular action-movie star.

"You put Arnold Schwarzenegger in a hospital gown, he looks like a wimp!" Curtis says with a laugh.

"They by nature make you feel vulnerable. It’s just hard to be a warrior in a hospital gown."

The new horror sequel Halloween Kills definitely puts Curtis’ iconic "final girl" Laurie Strode in a medical predicament. The last film, 2018’s hit Halloween, found Laurie ready after decades of preparation for another throw-down with masked psycho Michael Myers 40 years after their first meeting (see John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween). With daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) by her side, Laurie traps Michael in her burning house and then she escapes, bleeding out from a nasty stab wound to the abdomen in the back of a truck.

"I think Laurie is really willing to die in that moment," Curtis (62) says of where the last movie ends and Kills begins.

"She has done the things she needed to do. She finished him and protected her daughter and granddaughter, but they also came together as a family that had been split apart by him. In a way, I feel like she had come full circle. So she now needs to be protected simply because she’s wounded."

Laurie’s heroism stirs up a vigilante mob in Haddonfield to go after Michael, who of course didn’t actually meet a blazing end and is now on yet another killing spree. Meanwhile, Laurie deals with unexpected chaos at the hospital amid major surgery that keeps her bedridden and out of the main fight.

"It shows the real strength of character," says co-writer/director David Gordon Green, who was inspired by an unfilmed moment from the original script of the 1978 movie that points to Laurie’s loneliness. And her strength comes from that, "which is a very valuable thing to consider on her trajectory and the way that she is able to project strong emotion to those that touch her".

For Halloween Kills, Curtis recalls filming the "bizarre" operation scene featuring "bona fide surgeons" and not actors doing their thing on a prosthetic stomach piece: "I’m listening to surgeons talk the way surgeons talk on some level while they’re cutting me open. It was interesting and wacky."

This sequel went a lot better for Curtis than 1981’s Halloween II, where Laurie was also recuperating in a hospital after a Myers attack. With a wry grin and dry wit, she recounts her most infamous moment from that film, when nightgown-clad Laurie falls out of a car door in a hospital parking lot and on to the pavement, bruising "the [expletive] out of my left hip," and then crawls on the ground, breaking her nails on the asphalt, and gets to the doors where she squeaks out a "help!".

"It makes no freaking sense," Curtis says. "The help’s there and she can’t scream. That makes me kind of crazy."

But the actress, known for her off-screen activism and philanthropy, turns thoughtful when asked if she’s bestowed her own passion and fierceness on her children — daughters Annie (34) and Ruby (25) — similar to Laurie’s influence on her family.

"Wow," Curtis says. "All I can say is I hope so. None of us want our kids to be tested. We want them to be fine and have happy lives. I just hope my kids, when challenged [with adversity], will face it with I hope intelligence, courage and integrity.

Curtis has become as much a face of the Halloween franchise as Michael’s masked visage. Greer recalls showing up in Charleston, South Carolina, for rehearsals on the 2018 film, which repositioned the franchise to highlight the effects of trauma.

"I was so taken with how important the story was to Jamie and how crucial it was for her to be able to be in this movie," she said.

Curtis will next film Halloween Ends (expected next year), though who knows if it’ll be Laurie’s end. "If I’ve learned one thing in 43 years, it’s you just never say goodbye," she said.

"I’ll say goodbye when I’m dead."

 — TCA

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