The Transformation Of Jamie Lee Curtis From Childhood To 62 Years Old

Jamie Lee Curtis may be one of Hollywood's most iconic scream queens, but the actor actually hates horror films. She just cannot stand the suspense, she told The New Yorker in 2019. "I scare easily — I have since I was a child. Loud noises scare me, suspense music scares me," she said. As surprising as that may be, considering Curtis shot to stardom thanks to her role in 1978's "Halloween," it simply goes to show how incredible her talents are. 

Curtis was not the first to carry the title, with Fay Wray being dubbed a scream queen as early as the 1930s, as was Curtis's own mother, Janet Leigh, in the 1960s, as Slate pointed out. However, Curtis became the most prominent wearer of the crown because she ruled during the genre's peak in the 1980s, as Skillset Magazine explained. While incredible on its own, Curtis went on to become much more. Being typecast as a scream queen can also thwart an actor's career prospects, as Wray herself lamented in a 2003 interview

But Curtis was able to transition into different genres, including cult comedies, like "Trading Places" (1983) and "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988), as well as thrillers and mysteries, like "Veronica Mars" (2014), and "Knives Out" (2019), proving she was fit to go any which way. Her skills didn't go unnoticed by the film institutions, as her acting has earned her a series of accolades, including a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Keep scrolling to check out Curtis's awe-inspiring transformation over the years.

Jamie Lee Curtis was the product of a turbulent Hollywood marriage

Jamie Lee Curtis is the second daughter of actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, whose marriage was the subject of intense public attention in the 1950s and early 1960s. Their 1962 divorce came on the heels of Leigh's career-defining role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) and Tony's role in the iconic "Some Like It Hot" (1959). That's the context into which Jamie was born. By the time she came along in 1958, Tony and Leigh's relationship was unraveling, and Jamie had no option but to be a witness, she said in her 2010 More cover story (via HuffPost). "[M]y parents' bond had deteriorated precipitously as their stardom grew. And like any other save-the-marriage baby, I failed," Jamie opened up.

Jamie later used the word "hate" to describe the feelings her parents had for each other. "My parents hated each other my whole life. I was raised in a house of hatred for the other," she said on ABC's "The View" in 2016, while admitting that, amid the chaos, there was also love. Jamie maintained a distant relationship with her father for most of her life. According to the Daily Mail, she noted that she did not hold it against him. "He was not interested in being a father. It's not a slant against him, he was very clear. He did what he was supposed to do from a financial standpoint... but he was not an involved father," she said.

Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to be a police officer

Despite being Hollywood royalty, Jamie Lee Curtis did not want to follow the same career path as her famous parents. "I never thought I'd be an actor, ever, ever, ever, ever," she told The New Yorker. Her true calling, she thought, was in law enforcement. That's mainly because she thought being a police officer would give her an opportunity to be useful without having to have a whole lot of education. "Today I'd be diagnosed with some learning disability or learning difference," she said. 

That does not mean Curtis was not popular in school. "You have to remember, I had gray teeth, because my mother took tetracycline when she was pregnant with me. My teeth were gray. I was not pretty. I was cute. I had a lot of personality. My lack of any school success I made up for in personality," Curtis said. She even enrolled at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California, to study corrections, but her prospects were not great, she told Good Housekeeping. "I was a terrible student. School just... missed me... I had a D+ average and was a party girl," she said.

Having grown up in the entertainment industry, she could not avoid being noticed. A friend of a friend once suggested she audition for Nancy Drew at Universal. She did not get that particular part, but he encouraged her to continue to try out. So she started taking up acting classes in college, per The New Yorker.

Jamie Lee Curtis believes being Janet Leigh's daughter helped her land 'Halloween'

During the month she took acting classes in college, she estimates she auditioned about "a hundred times for things and not getting much" until she snagged a contract with Universal, she told The New Yorker. Her TV debut came in 1977 when she appeared in an episode of "Quincy, M.E." and in the comedy series "Operation Petticoat" as an Army nurse. Curtis's portrayal as Lt. Barbara Duran didn't impress many. But neither did most of her co-star's. "I was fired, along with eleven of the thirteen actors. I was devastated. I thought my life was over. I thought my career was over. I thought I would lose my contract. And two weeks later the audition for 'Halloween' came up," she told The New Yorker. 

The auditioning process was long and arduous. In the end, Curtis was up against another actor, and she contends that her getting the role boiled down mainly to her privilege. "[I]f you're going to choose between this one and this one, choose the one whose mother was in 'Psycho,' because it will get some press for you. I'm never going to pretend that I just got that on my own, like I'm just a little girl from nowhere getting it. Clearly, I had a leg up," she said. Regardless of how much that played into it, there's no denying she was right for the part of Laurie Strode. She was an immediate sensation.

Jamie Lee Curtis's self-image issues led to drug addiction

Jamie Lee Curtis's career took off from there. Maybe being Janet Leigh's daughter helped get her foot in the door, but she clearly had what it takes. It's no easy feat for an actor to instantly become famous for their debut film. But becoming a star overnight can take a toll on anyone's mental health and self-image. Curtis was hit particularly hard because she grew up witnessing her own mother deal with self-esteem issues surrounding the public attention she received for being beautiful, Curtis told More (via HuffPost). 

"I think the most complicated relationship my mother had, both loving and often cruel, was with her own body... She was intoxicating. Like anyone who becomes famous for what they look like, when that commodity starts to change, the relationship with it deteriorates," Curtis said. Curtis was insecure. She did not think she was beautiful, which prompted her to seek a series of cosmetic procedures, she told Variety

It was after what she called a "routine plastic surgery" in the late 1980s that she became addicted to painkillers. After being prescribed Vicodin to manage the post-op pain, she started abusing it, along with alcohol. "I was the wildly controlled drug addict and alcoholic. I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning," she said. That's why she managed to keep a secret. In 1999, she became clean. 

Jamie Lee Curtis is also an accomplished writer

After her experience with self-image led to self-destruction, Jamie Lee Curtis learned to embrace her natural beauty and changing looks. She let her hair turn silver, showing the world how elegant gray locks can be. With that, Curtis also showed that the career of a female actor does not have to stop after certain time. She continued to rock the silver screen, appearing in fan favorites like "Freaky Friday" (2003) and various "Halloween" sequels, including a 2018 version that earned her a Saturn Award and a string of other nominations. 

While she did that, she also branched out, launching a writing career in the early 1990s that has been as successful. Like her acting career, writing children's books is not something she thought she would do, she told The New Yorker. Her 1993 release, "When I Was Little: A Four-Year Old's Memoir of Her Youth," came to her by accident when she started listing things her 4-year-old could do. She has since written 13, including one that was on The New York Times best-selling list for 10 weeks, per the Los Angeles Times.

Curtis also balances both her careers with her family, comprised of her husband Christopher Guest, whom she married in 1984, and children, Annie, born in 1986, and Thomas, born in 1996, both of whom are adopted, according to Insider. Amid it all, she's still full of energy. She is set to star in four upcoming films, which goes to show she's nowhere near done.