Jamie Lee Curtis has been a Hollywood icon since she first began acting in the 70s. With starring roles in hits like Halloween, My Girl, and Freaky Friday, and various awards under her belt, it is obvious that she has had an illustrious career. To this day, she continues to demonstrate her longevity and success with new projects every year. However, the movie star’s road to success wasn’t as conventional as one would expect, and many people might not realize that she was thrust into the spotlight long before she first graced our local theaters and TV screens.
You see, Curtis is the child of two iconic, talented actors — Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Growing up in her parents’ shadow definitely impacted Jamie Lee, but ultimately, she followed in their footsteps and pursued acting as many celebrity children often do. Jamie Lee Curtis has been very open about her upbringing and her journey to stardom. Read on to see how the actress has transformed throughout the years.
Jamie Lee Curtis had a difficult childhood
Some might think that having celebrities for parents would be cause for a charmed life, but for actress Jamie Lee Curtis, it was not without its difficulties. Curtis was born on Nov. 22, 1958 and her parents divorced by the time she was 4 years old. “By the time I came along … my parents’ bond had deteriorated precipitously as their stardom grew,” Curtis told More (via Express). “And, like any other save-the-marriage baby, I failed.”
Curtis said in an interview with The Talk, via Daily Mail, that her father was not a very involved parent or that present in her life. “My mother persevered through it all and survived; I’m not sure if my sister and I did,” she said. “There was no Demi-and-Bruce [Willis] amicable divorce or joint family vacations for us.”
On top of the troubles she faced at home, growing up with a famous last name made it difficult to for Curtis to find her own identity and have a “normal” childhood. “It was just never forgotten who my parents were. Whenever I met anyone new, I was introduced as Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh’s daughter,” Jamie Lee told Rolling Stone. “You’re a child trying to develop an identity and a sense of self-worth […] and all this Hollywood stuff plagues you and makes you kind of wonder who you are.”
Jamie Lee Curtis did not have a good high school experience
While some people might expect a celebrity’s child to be prom queen or mega popular in high school, Jamie Lee Curtis said her experience was actually quite brutal and that being in the public eye did not help in terms of establishing her own identity.
Curtis attended two different high schools in Los Angeles, Calif. and Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut for her senior year. Moving so much and not fitting in with her classmates caused the young star to have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, as she told Rolling Stone. Curtis said she was always pretending to be like her peers and never comfortable just being herself, which ultimately made her feel very depressed.
“So if another girl was wearing her hair up in a ponytail, the next day I’d do that. I said I liked whatever kind of music they liked,” Curtis said. The upside of this, however, was that she felt her experiences in high school made her a better actress. “I think the fact that I had very low self-confidence growing up and in high school made me a good actress,” Curtis added. “I learned early to be a chameleon, to turn whatever color was needed.” Curtis was able to channel this ability and nab the lead role in the now cult horror movie Halloween at just 19 years old in 1978.
Jamie Lee Curtis struggled with self-esteem and addiction early in her career
Jamie Lee Curtis soared to fame following her breakout role in Halloween. Despite the newfound fame, however, some of the self-esteem and lack of confidence issues that she faced as a teenager continued to plague her life. She opened up to Variety about how her insecurities and the Hollywood beauty standards led her to seek cosmetic surgery. She said that a cameraman made a remark during a movie shoot about her puffy eyes, pushing her to go under the knife.
“[The cameraman] said, ‘I’m not shooting her today. Her eyes are too puffy.’ I was so mortified and so embarrassed and had just so much shame about it that after that movie,” Curtis said. “I went and had routine plastic surgery to remove the puffiness.” This surgery sparked even more personal issues, as she was prescribed Vicodin for the pain and immediately got hooked, thereby sparking her secret battle with drug addiction.(She ultimately told her loved ones about her struggle and eventually sought help.)
Curtis said she was also an alcoholic and had other substance abuse issues, which run in her family. “It’s like the way you naturally feel when your body is cool, and you step into a warm bath, and you sink into it. That’s the feeling for me, what an opiate gave me, and I chased that feeling for a long time,” Curtis said about addiction. With the support of her family, Curtis got sober and has maintained recovery ever since.
Jamie Lee Curtis found her confidence and preaches self-love
It is difficult to picture Jamie Lee Curtis as having ever been insecure. Nowadays, she is known for her confidence and for shamelessly rocking her silver locks, as she preaches self-love and age acceptance. So how did the star go from being in such a low place to the happy-go-lucky woman she is now? “I didn’t have any skills in the way that you would normally register someone’s success,” Curtis told TODAY. “I wasn’t good in school, I wasn’t an athlete, I wasn’t particularly pretty, but I just sort of found my way.”
Curtis was also one of the first celebrities to spark the no-makeup movement, as she posed in a no-makeup, no-Photoshop shoot for More. “It was an attempt at saying, ‘I struggle with my own self-esteem,'” Curtis said (per Good Housekeeping). “I’ve never been a comfortable cover girl, but the girl in those photos took off her clothes and stood there, letting her tummy relax. I was free.”
As for aging with grace and not letting a number slow her down, Curtis told the outlet she welcomes age. But what’s her underlying secret? She doesn’t look in the mirror in the morning, of course! “I’m a 60-year-old woman. I am not going to look the same as I used to,” she said. “I turn my back to the mirror, and I feel great!” Jamie Lee Curtis has come a long way and her journey is never-ending as she continues to amaze us at every turn.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA’s 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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