Jamie Lee Curtis walked into our room bursting with energy and humor. In her new movie You Again, the actress plays Gail, the mother of a groom-to-be, Will (James Wolk), who is marrying a young lady named Joanna (Odette Yustman). So far, so good. But Gail doesn’t realize that Joanna is the person who made her daughter Marni’s (Kristen Bell) life a living hell in high school. And to add insult to injury, Joanna’s aunt, Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) tormented Gail thirty years before when they attended the same high school.
Jamie spoke with us about the movie, her high school years, and her amusing and fake rivalry with Sigourney Weaver.
Why did you decide to do this movie?
Because it was a comedy for Disney and it was shot in Los Angeles during the summer. When it first came to me, I said, ‘When’s it going to shoot?’ They said, ‘September.’ I went, ‘Can it be August, because if it can be August, I can do it. If it’s September it’s too much into the school year.’ (Luckily), they could make it in August.
So you’re serious about keeping the family close to home?
I always have been. That’s why I’m not in many movies, because there aren’t many movies made in Los Angeles any more. Freaky Friday was made here. Beverly Hills Chihuahua was made in Mexico, but I was only there four days, so that worked.
Did you have a ‘Joanna’ in high school?
No, I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I think high school is difficult because I think people get betrayed. From my experiences, it was about betrayal. It’s about giving somebody some information that they don’t know what to do with, so they give it to somebody else. So that first time that I went (whispers), ‘I like him, I think he’s really cute,’ the next thing I knew, someone went and said, ‘Jamie likes you.’
It’s that thing where the minute you express those first feelings of love and attraction, somebody else tells on you, and then it’s embarrassing. That’s where high school was really tricky, navigating that. The rest of it I didn’t have a ‘Joanna.’ I think that’s a pretty arch example of a bad girl.
What was it like working with Sigourney Weaver?
Okay, here’s what you’ve got to know about me. I’d never met Sigourney Weaver. I’d heard about her. She’s very tall. We’ve been up for a lot of movies together. She always got them. I don’t hold any grudge. I barely got through high school. She went to Yale and speaks French. She’s married to a theatre director (Jim Simpson), I’m married to a film director (Christopher Guest).
She was in the Number One movie of all time, and she’ll tell you often that she was. I was in the worst piece of (crap) you’ve ever seen called Virus. And yet my action figure is bigger than hers. (she holds up the two action figures). The rest of this is irrelevant. Any other questions?
Sigourney’s never written a children’s book like you.
Oh no. it’s not a competition. I’m in no competition with Miss Weaver. She is a fantastic woman and I don’t throw my five-million-copies-sold at her at all. She has many more things than I ever will have and I wish her only well.
How has the business changed since you began acting?
The saddest thing for me is that there’s now a generation of people who from the nature of the TV shows that they do, none of which I’ve ever seen, are not actors. They are not people who have ever studied film or even really know anything about performing, what it is to be a performer.
They are real people who are then thrust into a public spotlight. Look how many people raised in show business stumble and fall in the public eye, these young people who are thrust into having a 24/7 camera on them.
What we learn is that the thing that makes the press is the most exaggerated behavior. It’s never the mundane things that make the press. They’re into this media circus, and I can never judge one of them, because I don’t know them. I couldn’t handle having a camera on me 24 hours a day. It feels like your life is a performance.
You made Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan. Do you have any comment on the problems she’s having?
I just have compassion. There’s no need for me to make an opinion one way or the other. I don’t know anything about the facts of any of the cases. What I have is compassion that a young child is thrown into the public eye and then has the media attached to (her). She’s made choices, I’ve made choices, we all have to live with our choices, but I feel empathy for her.
Was it easier for you as a youngster?
Sure. First of all, I was not in show business.
You were in the public eye with Halloween.
But I was an adult. I was 19 already. I’d made a choice. I quit school and became an actor. If all of these websites were up when I was 19, running around doing what I did, and there were cameras every time I came out of a bar or a night club, (it would have been horrible).
I wouldn’t be married today if those people chased my husband and I the way that these (photographers) chase people now. My husband’s too private. He would have looked at me one day and said, ‘Sweetheart, I can’t do this.’ I was more accustomed to it, but I still never had people chase me, ever.