Jamie Lee Curtis - Just an old-fashioned girl?
Sunday Express 3rd November 1991
As a teenager, Jamie Lee Curtis was flat-chested and gawky. Then she grew up to be a sex symbol - but one with a brain and a happy marriage. Lesley Salisbury met the feisty star. Main photograph by Greg Gorman
Look at her. Just look at her. And this is a woman who says her best features are her eyes. Closely followed by her toes. Which will soon, if you believe her, meet her more visible assets as they obey the law of gravity. "My breasts are dropping, I've got cellulite in my butt and hips, I have short mousey hair and skin mat breaks out I'm Like any other normal working mother just trying to keep it all together," says Jamie Lee Curtis.
This is the Hollywood princess who never felt comfortable with the way she looked. The gawky, ugly duckling who wanted to swan around like all the other curly-haired, cute celebrity kids. She was the flat-chested schoolgirl who dreamed about fame, the teenage starlet desperate to be a big star. And then she grew up. And out Her spectacular statistics were highlighted in films like Trading Places, in which she was nude for seven seconds (she's counted) and freeze-framed on video for even longer; as a figure-happy fitness instructor in Perfect; and in A Fish Called Wanda, which had her showing her body and her vocabulary (there's no one in Hollywood with a more colourful one) beside John Cleese and Kevin Kline.
Suddenly the ugly duckling ("Goofy", she called herself) was a sex object. And she loved it. She was mat rare creature, a sex symbol with a brain and a sense of humour. She thought it was hilarious that men couldn't look her in the eye any more (their sights were pinned lower).
"People think I blow these up or stick 'em on with Velcro," she said. But it was hard work being a body beautiful.
"I started getting into the whole obsessive body-perfect trip," she says now. "Up until Perfect I was reasonably sane about my work outs. And I did my share of drinking and illegal substances.
"Then suddenly I was in the gym for five hours a day, every day. I hung upside down by hooked boots, I did hundreds of squats and sit-ups and hip thrusts. I lifted weights, I did two 90-minute aerobics classes a day, I went home and swam 50 laps. I gave up smoking and drinking and drugs. I'd eat only fish, fruit, vegetables and salad and never after 7pm. I was in bed by eight. And I was no ****ing fun...
"I felt you could be loved only if you had the tightest inner thigh. I was totally obsessed by my body. I was outraged if I saw an ounce of fat. I became obsessed with my jeans fitting to skintight perfection. Luckily, I came to my senses."
Ask her how she did it and she'll tell you tenderly that her husband, British actor-writer Christopher Guest, and their adopted four-year-old daughter Annie were the reasons.
"We're like Mutt and Jeff - total opposites," she says of Christopher, whose father is Lord Haden-Guest. "But we have a good marriage -not perfect, but good - and for the first time in my life I'm happy to be me. And happy to be normal, as far as someone as goofy as me can be.
"I never felt comfortable with how I looked.
I still don't I never had much of a self-image. I was never known as me, I was always Janet Leigh's daughter, Tony Curtis's daughter, Queen of the Ghouls in horror movies, and The Body. Now, you know what? I'm happy to be 33, enjoying my daughter, my marriage and my career."
She has a new film, My Girl, out this month, co-starring the cute Home Alone child star Macaulay Culkin (so cute he had a swear box installed on the set and made out like a bandit every time Jamie Lee opened her mouth). She's also very proud that her US TV series, Anything But Love, is doing well, and prouder still to be directing some episodes.
"I hoped this was how my life would turn out hut I never really expected it- and I took a few wrong turns on the way," she admits.
Funny, feisty and strong, she's no one's toy these days (except, perhaps, Christopher's: walk into her bedroom in her Spanish-style house on the edge of Beverly Hills, past a pile of Annie's toys, and you'll -i pair of handcuffs by the bed. "Just for the pictures," says Jamie with a naughty gleam in her eyes). She's a fascinating contradiction: she looks like a sex symbol, walks like a tomboy, talks a blue streak like a sea captain’s parrot, turns somersaults to amuse Annie, eats fish and chips with a passion and thinks her perfect body is, to paraphrase, a load of codswallop.
She zips around in a new Mercedes convertible with her motto -"Life Should Be A Dream, sha-boom, sha-boom" - on the licence plate and, for Jamie Lee Curtis, for now, it is.
"I'm not an exhibitionist," she says, despite the blonde-in-fishnet picture session that had her giggling and flirting ("innocent flirting helps keep a woman content in a relationship," she says. "Flirt a lot. Your sexuality is like a volcano - you should let the steam out sometimes") and sent her home to Christopher with a smile. But she still enjoys being a sex symbol from time to time. And while there still is time. "It's fun while it lasts," she says. "The important thing is that I'm secure enough now to realise that it doesn't last After 30, everything starts going south. I used to say that one day I'd wake up not caring whether or not I had the best, cutest little ass in Hollywood, and I'd order a great big piece of chocolate cake and let somebody else take over having the cute body. Well, I’ve been eating that cake for some time now." And - since someone's got to say it - she's roil having it too...
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