When she was offered the role in Everything Everywhere All at Once she had one condition: it had to be real. No prosthetic tummy, no concealers – she was going to pack on a bit of weight and the movie was going to show her fat rolls in all their glory.
“My instruction to everybody was: I want there to be no concealing of anything,” Jamie Lee Curtis explained as she shared a photo on Instagram of herself as Deirdre Beaubeirdra, sitting at a desk tucking into a pastry with her belly protruding over the waistband of her pants.
And her dedication paid off.
Jamie (64) earned her first Oscar nomination in her 46-year-long career for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once and finally took home the gold statuette at the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
While it was an emotional moment for the actress, she was full of praise and gratitude for her fellow castmates and the rest of the film team.
“I know it looks like I'm standing up here by myself, but I'm not. I'm hundreds of people. My bae Michelle (Yeoh), Ke (Huy Quan), Stephanie (Hsu) – the entire group of artists who made this movie – we just won an Oscar,” Jamie said in her acceptance speech.
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She went on to thank her late parents, her husband Christopher Guest, and daughters Annie and Ruby as well as all the moviegoers who've supported her.
“To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I've made for all of these years, the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people, we just won an Oscar together,” she said.
From being a red-headed seductress in Trading Places to a slinky fitness instructor in Perfect and lighting up the screen as a sultry con artist in A Fish Called Wanda, she's played many roles in the past.
But for Jamie her latest movie, in which a Chinese immigrant (played by Michelle Yeoh) tries to save the world by exploring other lives she could have led – including one where she encounters Deirdre – was a liberating experience.
“I’ve been sucking my stomach in since I was 11,” Jamie says. “I very specifically decided to relinquish and release every muscle I had that I used to clench to hide the reality. That was my goal. I have never felt more free creatively.”
In the past few years the veteran actress has been outspoken about the double standards Hollywood has for men and women, blasting it as a “very cruel business”.
She added that she finds it “humiliating to see the media frenzy that occurs when somebody gets older”.
As someone who’s been in showbiz for decades she knows only too well about the hypocrisy and body-shaming that female stars often have to endure.
Jamie shot to fame at age 19, playing high-school student Laurie Strode in Halloween in 1978.
After this breakthrough she landed roles in films like True Lies alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, which earned her a Golden Globe award.
She won over a new wave of fans with her performances in comedies such as Freaky Friday, Christmas with the Kranks and You Again. But although roles seemed to drop into her lap, behind the scenes life wasn’t always easy.
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In 2019 she opened up about her booze and painkiller addiction. Jamie revealed that for a decade she was hooked but got an embarrassing reality check in 1989 when a friend who was visiting her caught her slugging down five painkillers with a swig of wine.
“I heard this voice: ‘You know, Jamie, I see you. I see you with your little pills, and you think you’re so fabulous and so great, but the truth is you’re dead. You’re a dead woman’.”
It was this exchange that inspired her to seek help and she’s been sober ever since. She says if she had continued popping pills she’d be “dead for sure”.
Freeing herself from her addiction opened up a whole new world. Between all her acting roles she’s also written more than 10 children’s books, something she’s passionate about, and launched her own production company, Comet Pictures.
Jamie – whose parents are “scream queen” Janet Leigh, who was famous for her role in Psycho, and Hollywood legend Tony Curtis – says she sees her life and career as a “constant metamorphosis”.
Now a lot older and wiser, she says she’s learnt to let go of the things that no longer serve her – like buying into Hollywood’s unrealistic notion of beauty.
“I don’t want to be punished for the natural evolution of the human being,” she says.
When she was in her 30s she did everything she could to delay the ageing process, including going for Botox and liposuction.
“I did plastic surgery – it didn’t work, I hated it. It made me feel worse,” she said in an interview last year.
She says she feels happier now that she’s stopped fighting the ageing process.
“Why do you want to look 17 when you’re 70? I want to look 70 when I’m 70,” she says.
Another thing she’s letting go of is her money. Jamie and her American-British screenwriter husband, Christopher Guest (74), support a range of children’s causes through the Syzygy Foundation, a charity they founded.
“I am somebody who sheds every day,” she says.
Jamie, who is the parent of two adopted kids, says one of the biggest “old ideas” that she has had to shed recently is the notion that gender is fixed.
This happened after she and her husband “watched in wonder and pride” as their son, formerly known as Thomas, became their daughter, Ruby.
Ruby (26) came out as transgender to her parents and sibling, Annie (36), in 2020 and Jamie says she is learning a lot along the way as she stands by her daughter.
“I am proud and grateful to be the parent of a trans child and am sending support to all of the trans families,” she posted on Instagram recently.
She has a great relationship with both her girls and will be officiating at Ruby’s wedding later this year.
Jamie has always been an advocate of accepting love in all its forms. In a recent interview she said while reading the novel No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod she came across a line, “All of us are better when we’re loved”, and it really struck a chord. “That killed me. Because I don’t think I’ve really felt that much,” she says.
She had a difficult relationship with her father and also struggled witnessing her parents’ tumultuous partnership.
Between them Tony and Janet had about 12 marriages and this left Jamie with a rather jaded opinion about love.
But today she describes herself as “a deep [and] serious romantic” – she puts this down to her 38-year marriage to Christopher, to whom she refers affectionately as “my one and only”.
She says the reason their union is so successful is because it’s not based on “delusions of grandeur” and that neither of them is drawn to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
As for being an ageing woman in the industry Jamie has made peace with the fact that “there are some jobs that you will lose or some jobs that you won’t get because of your age”.
But it’s not like she’s struggling to find work. She’s set to star in Halloween Ends, the last of the franchise, which goes on circuit later this year.
Jamie says she’s a firm believer that “creativity will always win”, regardless of age.
“If you create something that they want, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
SOURCES: USATODAY.COM, THEGUARDIAN.COM, ETONLINE.COM, EDITION.CNN.COM, INSIDER.COM, ETONLINE.COM, PREVENTION.COM, EW.COM, EONLINE.COM, NEWS24.COM, AARP.ORG, VANITYFAIR.COM, NME.COM, VARIETY.COM, TODAY.COM, CLOSERWEEKLY.COM, BUSINESS-STANDARD.COM