Jamie Lee Curtis is a renowned figure in the horror genre, particularly known for her standout performance as Laurie Strode, the quintessential “final girl.” While Curtis has showcased her versatility in various film genres, including action in “True Lies” and mystery in “Knives Out,” her association with horror remains a prominent feature of her career. Her portrayal of Laurie Strode in the iconic slasher film “Halloween,” directed by John Carpenter in 1978, marked her cinematic debut. Curtis reprised this role multiple times, with the possibility of further returns even after “Halloween Ends” in 2022.
Although Laurie Strode wasn’t the initial “final girl” in horror cinema, she has become the most iconic. Over four decades, Curtis has adeptly embodied this character, confronting the menacing Michael Myers at different stages of her life. While Myers is the recognizable face of the franchise, Strode is its indispensable heart. The 2018 reboot trilogy, directed by David Gordon Green, rejuvenated Laurie Strode’s significance, emphasizing her pivotal role in the Halloween series. Curtis has also made significant contributions to the franchise’s complexity through her involvement in high-profile appearances over the years.
The Halloween franchise encompasses four distinct periods, all stemming from John Carpenter’s original masterpiece. Curtis has played a crucial part in three of these periods. The fourth phase, comprising Rob Zombie’s noteworthy but somewhat underappreciated two-part remake, features a reimagined Laurie Strode.
The original Halloween series, consisting of six films, is an exemplar of Hollywood’s pattern of diminishing returns. The third installment deviated from the Michael Myers narrative, but the fourth to sixth films built upon the revelation in “Halloween II” that Laurie Strode is Myers’ long-lost sister. This Thorn Trilogy shifted the focus towards Strode’s daughter, Jamie, following her mother’s off-screen demise.
In commemoration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, a reset occurred, disregarding the Thorn Trilogy and leaping two decades beyond the events of “Halloween II.” Here, an older Laurie Strode assumes the role of a headmistress in a boarding school attended by her son, having faked her death and adopted a new identity. The familial connection becomes pivotal when Myers manages to track down his surviving relatives.
In 2018, the series underwent another reset, this time discarding all events subsequent to the original Halloween. While “H20” portrayed Strode grappling with PTSD and living in seclusion, the reset depicted her as a virtual recluse, coping with her fears through heavy drinking and preparing for Michael’s inevitable return. This new continuity eliminates Halloween II from the canon, severing the familial tie between Strode and Myers.
Curtis’ character embodies three parallel timelines within the series, each characterized by her connection to Michael Myers. It’s this willingness to adapt that has kept Strode at the center; evolving facets and intentions have enticed Curtis to return to her most iconic role. She has portrayed three distinct versions of Laurie Strode, each representing a different phase in the life of a survivor: the daughter, the mother, and the grandmother. It’s a feat not easily matched in any other horror franchise.
Born on November 22, 1958, Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, made her debut in the film industry at under 20 years old, shortly after the release of the original Halloween. This proximity in age to her character, Laurie, at 17, was pivotal for her enduring association with the franchise.
In “Halloween” (1978), released when she was 19, Curtis embodied Laurie, the unsuspecting babysitter who unwittingly draws the attention of Michael Myers. This film solidified the slasher genre and initiated the menacing presence of the masked killer, setting the stage for a nightmarish ordeal that Laurie would continue to face over four decades.
“Halloween II” (1981) follows immediately after the events of the first film, shifting the action to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. It is here that the revelation is made that Laurie is Michael Myers’ long-lost sister. However, this newfound blood connection only serves to further motivate Michael in his pursuit to eradicate the last remnants of his bloodline.
In “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982), Curtis makes an uncredited voice appearance as a curfew announcer and telephone operator, despite the film’s departure from the familiar Michael Myers storyline. Despite this shift in focus, the film has attained a cult classic status.
“Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998) marks the franchise’s first reset on its 20th anniversary. Set two decades after Laurie learned of her familial ties to Michael Myers, she has assumed a new identity and attempts to grapple with her PTSD. However, her efforts are in vain when Myers tracks her down, along with her son, in California. In this installment, Laurie is no longer a babysitter, but a mother and a protector, showcasing her as a formidable force.
“Halloween: Resurrection” (2002), a sequel to “H20,” follows with a summer release and is often regarded as one of the weakest entries in horror film history. Remarkably, it convinced Curtis to return to the series for one final confrontation. In this film, Laurie, now confined to a psychiatric facility, faces a ultimate showdown with her relentless brother. Unfortunately, the movie concludes with Laurie allowing herself to fall from a building, a development often dismissed due to the film’s perceived shortcomings.
In “Halloween” (2018), released when Curtis was 59, Laurie Strode returns, now a grandmother. Four decades of terror have transformed her from a bright babysitter to a wary recluse, prepared for Michael’s inevitable resurgence. Despite her apprehension, Laurie proves to be an indispensable asset in Haddonfield’s efforts to finally put an end to Myers’ reign of terror.
“Halloween Kills” (2021) sees Curtis at 62, with the film picking up immediately after Strode sets her final trap for Michael Myers. However, it appears that Laurie’s carefully laid plans have faltered, and Myers is once again on a deadly rampage. Though injured and confined to a hospital, it is evident that Laurie is strategizing a powerful counterattack.
In the concluding instalment of the modern trilogy, “Halloween Ends” (2022), Laurie Strode, now 63, finds herself four years beyond the events of “Halloween Kills.” It seems that she may have finally come to terms with her traumatic past. Living with her granddaughter and chronicling her eventful life, an accusation of murder directed at a babysitter reopens old wounds, bringing Strode and Myers’ narrative to its definitive conclusion.