Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother, Movie Star

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. There are moments when I remember her beauty, unadorned, unposed, not in some artificial place like a set or a photo call but rather captured outdoors in nature, where she took my breath away. When those moments surface, I miss her the most."

So begins Jamie Lee Curtis’ intimate essay about her complicated relationship with her mother, Janet Leigh, in the May issue of MORE MAGAZINE. Part eulogy and part autobiography, Curtis crafts a beautiful tribute to the late Hollywood legend and candidly discusses their complex, yet durable, mother-daughter bond. In the piece, Curtis opens up about everything from her mother’s split from father Tony Curtis to Leigh’s most complicated relationship of all – with her own body.

The essay is equal parts elegiac and celebratory, giving great insight into Curtis’ own life and personality in the process. Reading how Leigh fretted over her figure (“Like anyone who becomes famous for what they look like, when that commodity starts to change, the relationship with it deteriorates," Curtis writes.) or how their mother-daughter relationship suffered from a lack of genuine intimacy ("She took good care of me – my needs were always met and she showed up to everything – but there was no real intimacy... She belonged to the people when really she should have just been ours."), it’s easy to put Curtis’ own directions in life into context – from her criticism over plastic surgery and body-conscious Hollywood to her own decision to scale back on her film work for the sake of her children.

Here’s a great new interview that Curtis gives to Better.TV from the set of her MORE photo shoot.

Genre fans will fondly remember two on-screen pairings between Leigh and Curtis, the first being in John Carpenter’s masterpiece 1980’s seaside ghost story THE FOG. And, in honor of Mother’s Day and as a fan of both women, I offer this poignant scene from the second – 1998’s HALLOWEEN: H20 – in which Leigh’s secretary character offers Curtis’ (horror iconic) Laurie Strode some motherly advice:


Pax Romano said...

Do you know what I love best about the scene from H2o? As Norma walks away some of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score plays. Leigh is in the same style of suit she wore in Psycho, and of course that's the same car (or a reasonable facsimile) that she drove in Psycho.

Vince Liaguno said...

Yes, that whole scene was lovingly crafted and is a respectful tribute to Leigh's own horror legacy. It resonates even more now with Leigh's passing and Curtis' essay about her late mother.