Actor Jamie Lee Curtis, 61, is often remembered for two types of films: comedies and horror films.
The extensive Halloween series of the latter has colored his career since the breakthrough part of 1978. Curtis has still played his most beloved roles in comedies - for example, in the contemporary classic of British comedy Kala called Wanda, which will be shown on television on Friday.
Wanda’s role is one of Curtis ’most famous works: the intriguing diamond robber tries, after the gig, to top the entire prey for himself from an important bandit.
Many stories have been told over the years about the filming of the film, written by comedian legend John Cleese. Curtis himself has recalled that he inadvertently ruined many shots just by laughing out loud easily.
In this sense, the most difficult were the common scenes with Kevin Kline, who played the manic but completely silly weapons expert Otto. The famous love scene spiced with Italian food names is already a classic.
“I pushed my head into the pillow, and there seemed to be socks in my mouth to make the laughter stop because I knew what his face would look like at the end of the scene,” Curtis recalled Vanity Fair magazine two years ago.
When the film was released in 1988, Curtis was already a big star - just like his parents, actor legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, had once been.
Curtis ’parents Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were themselves actor legends.
Photo: Craig Skinner / Zuma / MvPhotos
Still not a completely classic Hollywood star Curtis. As a schoolboy, she considered herself cute rather than beautiful. He compensated for the poor school success due to learning difficulties by being a joker for the gang.
- I grew up in the middle of the show business. I never imagined I would become an actor, I never, ever, ever, ever, Curtis stressed for the 2019 New Yorker.
- I aimed to be a police officer because I thought I was good at it and didn't need much to study.
It happened differently. When Curtis realized he could replace the College’s drama studies with a month-long acting course, he chose it and began applying for auditions alongside it. Eventually, he ended up on the TV comedy series Operation Alushame (1977–1979), based on a comedy of the same name made by his father in 1959.
The TV role led to success, but in a different way than Curtis had imagined.
- I got fired from the series, and I was on my way. If I hadn’t gotten fired, I couldn’t have made a Halloween movie, Curtis said of a lucky coincidence to the 2018 newspaper The New York Times.
In the Halloween auditions, Curtis had an unbeatable advantage: his mother, Janet Leigh, had starred in the history of the film in 1960 in the famous shower murder scene of Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The producers understood the kinship to be a good advertisement.
John Carpenter’s influential Halloween film was successful and started a boom in teenage horror movies. From Curtis, it created the image of an indomitable survivor - a kind babysitter from whom a strong fighter hatches when needed.
Perseverance has marked Curtis ’roles since then. In the thriller Cold Steel (1990), directed by Kathryn Bigelow, she portrayed a tight cop who falls in love with a psychotic killer in the midst of an official crime investigation.
In Curtis's action comedy, James Cameron, for his part, elevated True Lies (1994) to another lead alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film dealt with the problems of the relationship through mega-scale proportions - and testified to Curtis ’ability to simultaneously load power, comedy and even satire into his roles.
Kala, named Wanda, also has hilarious harshness, although the film is often remembered above all for the nonsense of Kevin Kline, a stiff lawyer who plays John Cleese, and his Monty Python colleague, Michael Palin, who plays an animal-loving stutter.
Curtis, in particular, is responsible for the hardness, and Wanda, in turn, seduces every man in the robbery. In practice, it meant kissing scenes with the entire main guard.
A fish called Wanda is a beloved British comedy classic. Jamie Lee Curtis was joined by Kevin Kline, John Cleese and Michael Palin.
Image: MGM / Zuma / MVPhotos
- On the first day of filming, I gave the men a toothbrushes and toothpaste as a gift because Wanda progresses systematically from man to man, Curtis recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair two years ago.
The comment says a lot about Curtis ’sense of humor - but also the uncomplicated.
- I say this out loud: when an actor has to throw himself into an intimate scene, it’s true. No fake. If you describe the scene to keep in front of a hundred people for about twenty times, I'm filming the guy who always proposes co-stars that could be the first to go round to kissing in the trailer.
- It is best to be with you first if you have to fret a quarter of an hour, Curtis formulated for Vanity Fair.
The script originally included a scene in which the family who arrived surprised Wanda naked in the middle of an intimate moment. Curtis overheard Cleese to swap parts the other way around: in the finished film, the pants in the limbs will be surprised by the blocked lawyer played by Cleese.
- Nudity in movies is rarely anything but a distraction. It is natural for people to look.
Curtis got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988.
Photo: Barry King / Zuma / MVPhotos
- The audience would have stopped laughing and just checked out what I look like naked. And I look pretty good naked, Curtis told Vanity Fair in a confident way.
As late as the mid-1980s, Curtis was less confident. The role of the sharp-tongued prostitute alongside Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in the hit comedy Barter (1983) and the role of an aerobics instructor wearing tight jerseys in the romantic drama Perfect (1985) had elevated him into a sex symbol, but the latter remained traumatized.
One day, the photographer of Perfect had meantly pointed out his chubby eye circles. Curtis ended up cutting them with a plastic surgeon. After the operation, the star was hooked on the opiates he received as painkillers for more than a decade.
In addition to Wanda, those years included Curtis ’soft family roles in the warm dramas My Girl (1991), Forever Young (1992) and My Girl 2 (1994). No one, not even his closest, knew about the addiction.
- I controlled my addiction and alcoholism so that I never used painkillers when I was working. I didn’t take them until five in the evening and not in the morning. It was a late afternoon and early evening thing, Curtis described his difficult years to Variety.
He has been completely sober for over 20 years. Having sobered up, he has spoken openly about his addictions in public because he wants the shame associated with it to dissipate.
- It is this secret shame that prevents people from getting out of addictions, he told Variety last year.
Talking about weaknesses shows the strength that Curtis has put into his roles as well. In the crime mystery of Knives, which was completed last year - everyone is to blame, he shone as a squeaky matriarch of a quarrelsome power family.
In Knives Out, Curtis performed a matriarch.
Photo: Lionsgate / Zuma / MvPhotos
- I've done my job very long time, and I had my first success as the age of 19. I hear someone shouting down the street to me every day that hey, I love you, you’re awesome. And I appreciate it, Curtis confessed to The New Yorker.
Fish named Wanda on Friday 7.8. Theme & Fem at 9 p.m.
Read the full article in the new TV magazine! The magazine is on sale from August 5 to August 11. together with Ilta-Sanomat. Digiversion can be found here.