Jamie Lee Curtis Talks ¡®Halloween Kills¡¯ and the Evolution of Laurie and Michael

Eric Goldman
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The Halloween series is one of the most durable franchises in Hollywood history, and now the 12th installment is here this week with Halloween Kills.?Picking up immediately after the 2018 Halloween film, Halloween Kills finds Michael Myers figuring a way out of that fiery inferno he was trapped in by Laurie Strode and her family, as he continues his rampage across?Haddonfield, in a film which sets the stage for next year’s climax to this new trilogy, Halloween Ends.

At this point, Michael Myers is one of the most famous and iconic villains in cinema history and Fandom spoke to the equally iconic Jamie Lee Curtis — back for her sixth Halloween film as Laurie Strode — along with director/co-writer David Gordon Green and cast members Judy Greer (Karen Nelson) and Anthony Michael Hall (Tommy Doyle) about filming scenes with Michael (AKA The Shape) himself, the film¡¯s notable subplot about the dangers of mob justice, and the focus on the Strode women. Plus, Jamie Lee Curtis reflected on having been able to play very different versions of Laurie through the years.

THE ON-SET SHAPE

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills

For David Gordon Green, who directed the 2018 film and now Halloween Kills — and will?return for Halloween Ends —?it¡¯s been very exciting working with a character as ingrained in pop culture as Michael Myers. Said Green, ¡°We’re working with an actor named James Jude Courtney, who plays the Shape in our film, and coming up with the rules, the boundaries, what Michael can and can’t do. He’s not supernatural, but he’s certainly spectacular. He’s certainly resilient. Trying to find the mannerisms, the physicality¡­ And then also, one of the things that’s always really fun for us is very often Michael does these quasi-art projects with the bodies after he’s killed them. And so coming up with how to design new and unique tableaus?for Michael’s creations [is fun].¡±

While Judy Greer, returning as Laurie¡¯s daughter, Karen, said she¡¯d finally gotten used to sharing the screen with Michael Myers by Halloween Kills, she recalled that working on the 2018 film, ¡°I would legit get scared and remind myself, because my whole life I feel like I’ve been expecting Michael Myers to pop up behind a tree or in my window or something. So when he actually does it, even if I’m on a movie set, it’s still pretty weird! With the second one, I felt a little bit more prepared for how creepy it is and also I knew James better so it wasn¡¯t just a strange, giant man wearing the mask.¡±

Asked if she had any idea of the power Michael would have on audiences while making the original 1978?Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis replied, ¡°Not a clue!¡± though she did add ¡°You know, there were moments [on set], there were a couple¡­¡± Ultimately, she credits Michael¡¯s impact to the people who created him, noting, ¡°The filmmaking [in the 1978 film] is expert. The cinematography is brazen, there was some new technology with the panaglide, which became the steadicam. That opening shot [with Michael’s POV]… That was really the beginning of that technology. And there was John Carpenter’s skill and Debra Hill¡¯s skill as a writer, and John’s skill as a director. But no, I don’t think anybody knew. It was made in 17 days. It was made for nothing!”

Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle in Halloween Kills

When it came to encountering Michael Myers on set, Anthony Michael Hall remarked, ¡°I sometimes get a little method actor. I listen to music, I work out, I stretch, I shadowbox, I do any number of things. I do all those things with the intention of just kind of loosening myself up and preparing for the scene. When you see James Jude Courtney, and he’s got the mask on, it was really cool. So there was that thing of kind of keeping a little separation [on set].¡±

Hall added, with a laugh, ¡°I gave him a healthy sense of respect and I think when everybody saw me throwing kicks and shadowboxing, I think people were like, ¡®Let’s stay the hell away from him too, because then we’re gonna see what happens here.¡¯¡±

David Gordon Green and Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween Kills

A famous moment in the original Halloween found Michael staring at his handiwork after one of his kills, tilting his head as though he were analyzing what he¡¯d just done. Green made sure to include that nature to the character in Halloween Kills and explained, ¡°There’s a lot of that and I’ve always responded to it. I was talking to [John] Carpenter the other day and I likened it to a cat, just kind of the way that a cat will consider his environment and so that’s kind of a fun way to put an animal adjective into the way that Michael operates.¡±

Rather than taking what we might describe as pleasure, Green described these moments as Michael ¡°considering¡± things, saying, ¡°I love looking at the original Halloween film and his killing of?Bob up against the wall. It’s a quick burst, but then it’s a pause for consideration. It’s not a joyous pleasure but it’s almost an efficient, surgical procedure.¡±

MOB JUSTICE COMES TO HADDONFIELD

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Karen (Judy Greer) in Halloween Kills

A major element of Halloween Kills is how the people of Haddonfield react when they learn that Michael is back — something that wasn¡¯t known in a widespread manner in the 2018 movie — and decide to take justice into their own hands.

These actions are led by Tommy Doyle (Hall), once upon a time the little boy Laurie was babysitting in the first film, who is joined by his fellow Michael Myers survivors Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), and Lonnie Elam (Robert Lonfgstreet) — Richards and Stephens reprise their roles from the original film, as does Charles Cyphers (¡°Leigh Brackett¡±), while Hall and Longstreet are new to the series. Unfortunately, things quickly begin to spiral out of control, as the increasingly larger mob becomes more and more driven by anger, not logic, and perhaps aren¡¯t going on the best information as they seek out Michael.

Discussing how this element of the story came to be, Green explained that overall with the Halloween films, ¡°I think there’s something that I appreciate in that intimacy between Michael and Laurie that I feel like is the bones, the DNA, of our story. And so that’s certainly where we want to begin, and as we get into our third and final chapter of the trilogy, where we want to end. But in the middle of it I wanted to show kind of a disrupting sequence or chapter of what fear does when it steps outside of that intimacy; when it steps into the public consciousness in the community of Haddonfield.¡±

There are moments in Halloween Kills, depicting local law enforcement unable to stop the mob as they overtake a building they believe Michael is in, where it¡¯s hard not to think about recent events, even though the movie — which found its release delayed a year thanks to the pandemic — was made long before January 6, 2021.

(L-R) Karen (Judy Greer), Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) and Sheriff Barker (Omar Dorsey) in Halloween Kills

Said Curtis, ¡°We can relate to it today because we have witnessed it around the world in the recent past. This movie was made two years ago and was conceived a year before that. So, you know, I believe that David Gordon Green and [writers] Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley and Scott Teems are prescient in in a way that I think when we look back on these movies, we will we will really see that the issues of social justice, of female trauma, and mob violence have been explored in a way ahead of the curve of these examples that we’ve seen through these last years in in the Zeitgeist. It’s interesting to me that they have their finger on the pulse of what’s really happening in the world. And I think these movies will be looked back on with that lens, and I think people will go ‘Wow, what did they know? What tea leaves did they read?’ All in the context of a horror movie, of course.¡±

Hall explained that he saw Tommy ultimately as a heroic figure, but one who has found his life permanently altered and harmed by Michael¡¯s original rampage and seeing ¡°What [Michael¡¯s] meant to the town and how it’s been this incredible and very intense experience for everybody for all those decades.¡±?Regarding the parallels to real life, Hall said, ¡°The fact that some of the things kind of mirrored society in the last two years¡­ we made the film before any of those things unfolded in our world. So that’s it’s just a very strange occurrence, how it all kind of aligned in a way. It couldn’t have really been planned for!¡±

When it came to tapping into something of this sort, Greer observed, ¡°I think that’s what made it so cool and what made it so scary when we were shooting. Those scenes legitimately frightened me. When that mob is running through the hallways and I’m trying to protect my mom, it was actually so scary. Those background actors were so great and they had so much adrenaline! They were so fired up that there were times where Jamie and I were like, ¡®Can you tell them to just chill out like 10% when they’re running past us?’ I think, like any movie that you’re gonna make, if you can ground it in some kind of reality, you’re just going to get a more visceral response from the audience. And that’s what I think we did, showing that mob mentality.¡±

THE STRODE WOMEN?

A recent promo video for Halloween Kills (seen above) focused on Laurie, Karen, and Karen¡¯s daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) and when it came to this focus on the three generations of women in this family, Greer noted, ¡°A lot of that stuff was Jamie’s idea, because she wanted so badly to tell a story about these three strong women. And she pitched that story really hard since the minute I met her in rehearsal for the [2018]?Halloween; the generations of trauma, but also the generational strength that we have. And when Jamie has an idea, it’s like, until it’s being implemented, she is on it. Having this sort of trio of badass, strong women, I just think it’s kind of the story that’s being told in all of our lives now. As women, finding our strength, finding our autonomy, finding our purpose and, and defying the patriarchy. I think it’s a great story to tell, as far as what we’re doing with these films.¡°

When I mentioned to Curtis what Greer had told me, Curtis replied that a big reason she pushed so much for this focus on Laurie, her daughter, and her granddaughter was, ¡°I just don’t think we’ve seen enough of it in cinema history. This is a genre that has been primarily driven by men. And here is a franchise driven by women. And Laurie Strode is not alone in the world. What David and Danny had created was that she had a family. Much of the 2018 movie is about how fractured that family is by the trauma that’s happened to Laurie, and how her daughter has kept her granddaughter away from her mother, feeling that she’s just this kind of maniac, crazy person. And of course, what we see at the end of the movie is Laurie is actually doing all of this in partnership with her daughter and granddaughter, as a trap for Michael. That¡¯s a powerful statement of female solidarity and family solidarity. These are strong, intelligent women.¡±

(L-R) Karen (Judy Greer), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Allyson (Andi Matichak) in Halloween Kills

Hall, who shares scenes with Curtis, Greer, and Matichak, remarked, ¡°There’s a sense of family and it’s not always there in every project. On every job you have, you’re not going to get that sense of community or a family vibe on the set, but we really had it on this one. The women were instrumental. They’re so strong and they know what they’re doing.¡±

A hugely crowd pleasing moment in the 2018 film came near the end, when Karen was screaming for help, seemingly helpless as Michael approached, only to reveal she was helping to draw him in, shooting him in the process. Asked about getting to do moments like this, Greer exclaimed, ¡°It’s so fun! It just makes you feel like a badass. The audience wants those moments from all the characters in the movie. It was so funny¡­ We reshot the ending of the last one. In the first version, it was a bow and arrow and we reshot it with a gun and it just had so much more resonance. And a lot of it was me being like, ¡®I don’t want to shoot a gun. I’m afraid of guns, I don’t like guns¡­¡¯ And then it just needed to be a gun, unfortunately. And it was great. And you hear the audience roar. The first time I even saw that movie was when we premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and just hearing the audience scream¡­. My whole body was shaking.¡±

THE MANY LIVES OF LAURIE STRODE?

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween Kills

Halloween is a bit of an odd series because its history has been rewritten so many times, with new installments essentially presenting an alternate timeline and conflicting events that can¡¯t coexist with other films, except (usually) the original movie ?– which is why Halloween II, Halloween 4, Halloween 5, and Halloween 6 are one path from the 1978 film, while?Halloween II (again), Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection another, and now the 2018 film, Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends yet another… and that¡¯s on top of Rob Zombie¡¯s two films and the standalone story of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

In one Halloween timeline, Laurie died off camera in an accident. Then, 1998¡¯s Halloween H20 found her living under a false identity in California, only for Michael to track her down after 20 years, while the 2018 film instead found her still in Haddonfield, having prepared for Michael¡¯s return for 40 years.

Asked what it was like to get the chance to keep revisiting the same character but in these different ways, Curtis remarked, ¡°Look, I’m 62. I’m not the woman I was when I was 19, or 25, or 30, or 42, or 51, or 57… I am a different person. And I think the different aspects of human beings, how we evolve, are at play here. H2O was about her running. It was a movie about an alcoholic woman who was running from it. She kept running, she moved, she changed her name, she hid from him. But he had found her. The end of that movie is her saying, ¡®I’m going to face him and I understand if I die, I will die trying. But by running, I’m never going to be free. I¡¯m always going to be looking over my shoulder.¡± That was a powerful statement to make at the 20 year mark. That’s what happened to the Laurie that we met then.¡±

Jamie Lee Curtis in 1997's Halloween H20

By comparison, Curtis noted, ¡°The 2018 movie, which erases all the other Halloween movies except the 1978 movie, is about a woman who has basically spent her life waiting for this day. She has dedicated her life to this protection to the exclusion of everything. She’s lost her family, marriages, work¡­ She lives alone, she’s in isolation from the very thing she is setting a trap for 40 years later. That’s who we meet. I’m not the same person I was when I was 20. I’m not the same person I was when I was 60! I’m doing more today than I ever dreamed I would do when I was 60 years old. So I just think people evolve and all you have to do is look back at some of your haircuts when you were in your 20s and any of us are gonna go, ¡®Oy, I’m very different than I was when I was 20.¡±

Though Curtis has continued to play Laurie through almost every one of her appearances — aside from Scout Taylor-Compton in Rob Zombie¡¯s reboot films — other actors have changed along the way. Hall for instance is playing a role first portrayed by Brian Andrews in 1978, with Paul Rudd then playing an adult Tommy Doyle in 1995¡¯s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Hall recalled that while making Halloween Kills, ¡°David and I would be texting, even if I wasn’t working. I would check in with him, see how things are going and stuff. And one day he goes, ‘Yeah, I got a call from Paul Rudd! He gives you his blessing.’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t know he was at the Vatican!¡¯ But that was actually really cool. Because, like a lot of people, I love Paul Rudd’s work.¡±

Meanwhile, the identity of Laurie Strode¡¯s child is different based on which Halloween timeline you¡¯re in. In Halloween 46, she had a daughter named Jamie Lloyd (first played by Danielle Harris, then J. C. Brandy), while H20 instead found Laurie with a son named John Tate (Josh Hartnett), before the 2018 film introduced Greer as Karen.

I mentioned to Greer that it amused me to imagine a crazy Halloween movie where she, Harris, and Hartnett somehow teamed up as the multiverse children of Laurie Strode and Greer laughed, replying, ¡°I think that would be more of a comedy. I think it’d be a great Saturday Night Live series of sketches.¡±

Halloween Kills debuts Friday, October 15 in theaters and on Peacock.

Additional reporting by Kim Taylor-Foster.

Click the link below to explore Laurie Strode’s psychology after over 40 years of battling Michael Myers!?

Eric Goldman
Eric Goldman is Managing Editor for Fandom. He's a bit obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, theme parks, and horror movies... and a few other things. Too many, TBH.