Top 10 Jamie Lee Curtis performances
Jamie Lee Curtis is arguably the greatest Scream Queen of all time. Her portrayal of Laurie Strode in 1978’s Halloween immediately endeared her to audiences of all ages. Since then, she has portrayed Laurie Strode four more time, most recently in the Halloween “Reboot-quel,” coming from Danny McBride and David Green. She is as much a part of the franchise and Michael Myers is, but there’s so much more to Jamie Lee Curtis than just being the heroine of Halloween. Curtis has portrayed a wide variety of characters in her 40+ career. She has proven herself to be a formidable thespian across all genres, including action, comedy, drama and, yes, horror.
10) Halloween Resurrection (2002)
For years, audiences believed this would be the last time Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed the role that, quite literally, made her famous. Halloween Resurrection was not a good movie. Like, at all. Like, even a little bit. And while Curtis gave a strong performance in her limited screen time, the character of Laurie Strode was written to be sort of a dunce. Following the events of Halloween H2O (we’ll be getting to that), Laurie is locked away in a mental hospital. But HIPPA won’t be able to stop Michael Myers from finding her, which he does. Laurie is expecting him, however. In an idea that will be further fleshed out (and probably a lot better written) in the upcoming Halloween H40 (or whatever), Laurie knew that Michael would be coming for her and she has taken measures to stop him. Curtis does a fine job as a broken and beaten Laurie Strode in the opening scenes of Halloween Resurrection. The problem was, audiences didn’t want to see Laurie as a beaten and broken woman. They wanted to see her as the resilient, courageous, ass-kicker that she was in the original and, presumably, will be in the upcoming film.
Purchase now on Amazon for $5.99.
9) Prom Night (1980)
From bookworm to prom queen, Jamie Lee Curtis followed up her role in Halloween with another event-themed slasher film. This time prom would be the scene of chaos and the film. Prom Night would go on to achieve cult-like status with audiences. Curtis plays the role of Kim, a seemingly normal-yet-resilient girl (sound familiar?) that must go toe-to-toe with a knife-wielding, mask-wearing, killer (also sound familiar?). At the end of the film, the killer is revealed to be Curtis’ brother (are you noticing a pattern?), who was avenging the death of their other sister from years ago. More than Halloween did, Prom Night acted as more of a ‘Who Dunnit’ murder mystery, in addition to being the typical slasher movie of the 80’s.
Purchase now on Amazon for $1.99.
8) Christmas with the Cranks (2004)
Proving her affinity for holiday films, Curtis starred in this 2004 comedy with Tim Allen, based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. The film, like the novel before it, focuses on a married couple who decide to skip Christmas after learning their daughter will not be able to visit. In Riverside Illinois, where the couple is from, this simply won’t do. Curtis plays Nora Krank, the wife of significantly-crankier Luther Krank (played by Allen). It is typical holiday fare and no molds are broken. But Curtis has spent years playing such a wide array of characters, it was kind of nice to see her as a normal (ish) housewife who still wants to be sexy for her husband and who still wants to make memories for her daughter. Christmas with the Kranks isn’t great, but Curtis is.
Purchase now on Amazon for $12.99.
8) Freaky Friday (2003)
The early 2000’s were home to Curtis’ more ‘family-friendly’ films and Freaky Friday was a prime example of this. Based on the 1972 film of the same name, Freaky Friday saw Curtis portray a single mother named Tess Coleman, who swaps bodies with her moody teenage daughter Anna, played by Lindsay Lohan. It’s silly and it’s stupid but it’s also charming and relatable. Curtis does a phenomenal job of playing a stuffy mother and a rebellious teenager and, truth be told, so does Lohan. It’s a movie with heart as it explores the relationship between a mother who is trying her best and a daughter who is doing the same.
Purchase now on Amazon for $14.99.
7) Scream Queens (2015)
Returning to the genre that made her famous, Jamie Lee Curtis played the hilarious Cathy Munsch in the 2015 Fox series, Scream Queens. This was a show created by Glee and American Horror Story writers Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, and it definitely seems like an amalgamation of the two genres. Scream Queens is a satirical look at what would happen if a serial killer stalked a millennial-era sorority house. Curtis plays the dean of Wallace University and she plays the role with gleeful malevolence, but is she the killer or is she, like most of the characters, just a really sh*tty person?
Purchase now on Amazon for $6.99.
6) Mother’s Boys (1993)
Mother’s Boys is a film that flew under the radar when it was released in 1993, but it’s actually a pretty decent thriller, especially for those who grew up with either an absentee parent or an overbearing mother. In this film, Jamie Lee Curtis plays Jude, an unstable wife and mother who walked out on her family three years ago. But now she’s back and just wants everything to be how it was again. And she’ll try to get it there no matter the cost. This movie makes the list because it’s one of the few times that Curtis played an outright villain and the audience can tell how much fun she had in the role. She did a really convincing job, as well because there were a few times throughout the film where the audience actually forgot it was Jamie Lee Curtis, because they hated Jude so much. Now that takes talent.
Purchase now on Amazon for $7.06.
5) A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Spoiler Alert: Jamie Lee Curtis is the fish called Wanda. This 1988 heist movie features an ensemble cast, consisting of Tom Georgeson, Michael Palin, Kevin Kline, and more. It is Jamie Lee Curtis, however, that steals the show as Wanda Gerschwitz — a seductive grifter with a knack for getting in trouble. Trouble is exactly what these characters run into when their diamond heist goes badly, and now Wanda must seduce one of her fellow robber’s lawyer, in order to find out where the missing diamonds are located. A Fish Called Wanda was a perfect example of Jamie Lee Curtis’ range. She was sexy and smart, funny and manipulative. A Fish Called Wanda won a lot of awards, and we have to think that many of those awards are due to the performance of Miss Curtis.
Purchase now on Amazon for $14.99.
4) True Lies (1994)
True Lies was a reunion film for Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron but, as per usual, it was Jamie Lee Curtis who stole the show. Arnie starred as Harry Tasker, a spy operating under the façade of a boring salesman. Unbeknownst to his neglected wife Helen, Harry is actually far from boring. While Helen thinks that Harry spends his days selling (fill-in-the-blank), he is actually in the middle of tracking down nuclear missiles thought to be in the possession of Islamic jihadist, Aziz. Meanwhile, Helen is being pursued by a used-car salesman, who tells her that he, himself, is a spy. So now, Arnie must save the world, as well as his marriage, before it’s too late. Curtis shines in this role, cementing her image as both a scream queen and just a queen in general.
Purchase now on Amazon for $7.99.
3) My Girl (1991)
This is one film that Curtis actually plays an incredibly nuanced, supporting role. Indeed, it is the titular ‘girl’ of the film, played by Anna Chlumsky, that steals the show as Vada Sultenfuss, an 11-year-old hypochondriac that struggles to deal a slew of deaths and other changes in her life. It’s not so much the quantity of Curtis’ part in this film, as it is the quality. Curtis plays Shelly DeVoto, a kind-hearted drifter living in a camper who almost instantly catches the attention of Harry, played by Dan Aykroyd. As Vada is dealing with things that no 11-year-old should have to go through, her father is oblivious. It’s Shelly that might be the only one who actually understands Vada and though there is never any substitute for one’s birth mother, Jamie Lee Curtis plays the role of Shelly with such a charming tenderness, you can’t hope that Vada will eventually be able to accept her as part of the family. This is a smaller part for Curtis, but it’s one that shows her dramatic skills and, for at least this writer, it was a part in a movie that forever began an admiration for this actress.
Purchase now on Amazon for $8.99.
2) Halloween H20 (1998)
If Halloween H20 was the end of the Halloween series, it would have been a fine ending. Though not a great film, H20 was still a pretty good post-Scream slasher film and it offered the closure that so many horror franchises lack. Of course, Halloween Resurrection undid all of that with its mediocre retelling of this film’s conclusion. Still, H20 told a great story about trauma, alcoholism, and running away from one’s past until it comes crashing into the present.
Purchase now on Amazon for $5.99.
1) Halloween (1978)
It was 1978. An independent film from a young John Carpenter originally entitled The Night He Came Home cast Jamie Lee Curtis and cinematic history was set in motion. This was Curtis’ first film role and nobody knew at the time that it would be one she would return to over and over again throughout the next 40 years. That speaks to the character of Laurie Strode, but it also speaks to the performance of Jamie Lee Curtis. In Halloween, Curtis plays a meek, ‘normal,’ teenage babysitter who must confront a masked killer while protecting the children she is in charge of. Strode was not much of a fighter before this fateful Halloween night, but the events of it would turn her into a survivor. Laurie Strode embodied an innocence, but also a resilience that all of us wish we had. She showed us that it’s okay to be afraid, but that we can still fight back. Laurie Strode, and by extension, Jamie Lee Curtis, showed us that the world is full of boogeymen but they don’t always have to win.
Purchase now on Amazon for $9.99.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.