Angela Bassett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Fraser, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson Feted at SBIFF 2023 | Festivals & Awards

“Working with her was a revelation,” he said.

Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF

Of this year’s SBIFF honorees, Jamie Lee Curtis perhaps has had the most untraditional career. While she was the daughter “two bonafide movie stars—Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh“—she originally planned to be a police officer. 

“I’m an unplanned actor,” she told the SBIFF audience.

She received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre in The Daniels’ breakout art film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” From the SBIFF, she received the Maltin Modern Master Award and was interviewed by Leonard Maltin himself.

“My parents would have loved this,” Curtis said.

In conversation about her unorthodox career, Curtis was a delight, thoroughly “on,” but not in a facile way. She has no filter. “I’m the only Oscar nominee who has ever sold yogurt that makes you shit,” she said mock-proudly (she also shared a rather prodigious impression of a crying infant).

Curtis, untrained, began her career as a contract player for Universal. She credits three Johns as her champions. First was John Carpenter, who cast her in her iconic role as Laurie Strode in the original “Halloween.” 

Her confidence was given a tremendous boost, she said when Carpenter called her at home after the first day of shooting. Curtis feared she was about to be fired, but Carpenter instead reassured her that she was doing a great job.

“Everything,” she said of her career, “can be traced back to ‘Halloween.’”

But, she said, that film, an instant horror classic and box office phenomenon, did not immediately lead to other significant opportunities. She appeared in “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Love Boat.”

Carpenter cast her again in “The Fog.” Appearing on that film’s poster, Curtis said, “was a big deal.”

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