Jamie Lee Curtis Got Her Debut In Halloween, And She’s Totally Transformed In The 44 Years Since

Jamie Lee Curtis fans rejoice: the legendary actress has finally won her first Oscar. Accepting the coveted Best Supporting Actress statuette for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Curtis literally jumped for joy. After all, it’s been a long time coming. Her glittering Hollywood career began back in 1978 with Halloween. She’s been an icon for decades, but she’s missed out on Academy Awards success — until now. Let’s take a look at how much everyone’s favorite Scream Queen has transformed over her incredible and astonishingly varied career.

Halloween makes her name

Curtis actually got Halloween after being let go from a TV series about Nancy Drew. She explained to Good Housekeeping, “Had I not been fired, I would not have been able to go up for the movie Halloween, which basically gave me the life I have today.” Curtis first appeared as scream queen Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's original Halloween in 1978. And the indie flick defied expectations in a multitude of ways.

A hit — but not for Curtis

While Halloween had a budget of only $325,000, it raked in approximately $70 million worldwide. This unexpected success meant that the cast didn’t exactly earn Hollywood-worthy paychecks for performing in the flick. Curtis, for one, made a mere $8,000 for her starring turn. That was better than the guy who played Michael Myers, though: he only got $25 a day!

The big break

That said, Curtis’ role in Halloween proved to be a major turning point in her career. For one thing, it kicked off her reign as Hollywood’s so-called “scream queen.” In the years that followed, she starred in a slew of similar slasher films. Roger Ebert even said in 1980 that Curtis “is to the current horror film glut what Christopher Lee was to the last one — or Boris Karloff was in the 1930s.” Although her 1980 films mostly received much less praise from critics.

Mixed reviews

For instance, Curtis followed up her performance in Halloween with 1980’s The Fog — another horror film directed by John Carpenter. As the title hints, the movie sees a California town taken over by a strange mist. But hidden within the fog are the ghosts of mariners who perished there a century before — and they want revenge. Roger Ebert called it “disappointing” at the time, but it’s a cult classic these days.