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“I’m pro-aging!” says Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, who received the highest entertainment honor AARP can bestow, the Career Achievement Award, Saturday at the 21st annual Movies for Grownups Awards. “I feel more alive today than I ever have, even with COVID.”
She accuses her pooch, Runi, of figuring out how to give her COVID to keep her home the week before the AARP event, instead of attending awards shows every night as she was supposed to. “Runi is lying next to me, saying, ‘It’s biological warfare, but for love.’” Even so, she exuberantly says, “I’m just feeling incredibly happy, and vibrant and active.”
(The Movies for Grownups Awards will be broadcast by PBS on Great Performances Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET. Check local listings, or watch on pbs.org/moviesforgrownups or the PBS Video app.)
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Bouncing back from her bout with the virus in time for the Movies for Grownups show, Curtis is enjoying a massive resurgence in her career and her life, and is delighted to join an illustrious procession of past AARP honorees including Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford and Helen Mirren.
Curtis became an overnight star at 19 in her 1978 smash Halloween, which no doubt made her Oscar-nominated mother, Psycho star Janet Leigh, proud. (Her relationship with her father, Oscar-nominated Some Like It Hot star Tony Curtis, who divorced Leigh when Jamie Lee was a toddler, was more fraught, but he was likely proud, too.)
Curtis is hotter now than she was in 1978. Her last Halloween movie, 2022’s Halloween Ends, boosted the horror franchise’s grosses over $800 million. “It broke the box office,” says Curtis, “and it starred a woman over 50. I was, like, ‘Wait, what?’ I didn’t see that coming.”
Nor did she foresee the success of the 2022 art film-turned-blockbuster Everything Everywhere All at Once, which earned Curtis her first Oscar nomination. “It was a little miracle of a movie — I fell in love with [lead actress] Michelle Yeoh and never let go.”
After receiving the Oscar nod, Curtis posted a joyous photo of herself hugging her husband, Christopher Guest, 74. Guest is an Emmy winner who appeared alongside John Belushi and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Lemmings Dead in Concert and won eternal fame in This Is Spinal Tap. She and Guest have been married 38 years and have two kids, Ruby and Annie.
Playing Deirdre Beaubeirdre, the hilariously awful IRS investigator who torments Yeoh’s character in the film, pushed Curtis’ personal film grosses above $2.5 billion, and when Yeoh won the Golden Globe Award for her performance, the photo of Curtis exultantly congratulating her became a huge internet meme.
“Just by nature, I love celebrating people. I’m a people person, super affectionate, very emotional. I weep a lot,” Curtis says. But neither star wept over the film’s $105 million box office take.
Not bad for an actress who was paid $8,000 for her teen scream queen debut, and then proved herself a brilliant comedian opposite John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda and Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday, a star who helped launch the hit murder mystery franchise Knives Out, and the author of 13 best-selling children’s books. She also earned an Emmy nomination (for Nicholas’ Gift) and two Golden Globe Awards (for the sitcom Anything But Love and the James Cameron action hit True Lies).
Curtis feels as if this year marks a new beginning, after what she calls “my Beatles birthday,” in honor of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band tune she loves, “When I’m 64.”