Jamie Lee Curtis: Tricks Of The Trade?
Jamie Lee Curtis: Tid-Bettes: Grieving For Michael Myers, Bette’s First Flying Test, Helen Slater’s Pivotal Scene – Is it like opera singers warming up before a performance? “I don’t do anything,” Curtis replies matter-of-factly. “The most I do is jump up and down. I’ll pretend I’m skiing if I’m supposed to be out of breath.” Does she ever rehearse her screams before it’s captured on camera? “There’s no practicing.” If she’s in a happy mood, how does she get into the mindset for a Halloween film? “I’m an actor. An untrained actor. You tell me to feel sad, and I feel sad. If I have to cry about something, I’ll cry about something. It’s just what I do.”
Eventually, Curtis reveals she has a “trick” (she immediately retracts the description and insists it’s not a “trick”) when it comes to crying on command: music. A few examples include Bette Midler (“she has a voice that kills me”), Brandi Carlile (“helpful”), and the Nanci Griffiths song “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go” (“it just reminds me of how hard life is for some people”).
Bette Midler’s First Flying Test In Full Winnie Drag
Helen Slater Couldn’t Cry In A Pivotal Ruthless People Scene
Slater grew up listening to Midler’s LP The Divine Miss M “probably 10,000 times”, so working with her was both daunting and exhilarating.
Given her love of comedy and music (she’s written several albums, too), I can’t help but ask about her time with the brilliant Jewish comedienne Bette Midler.
“There’s a scene between her and me in Ruthless People,” she recalls. “I had to be crying, and it wasn’t coming along.
“So that’s like the actor’s nightmare. Nothing was working. And I was 22 years old and feeling a little stranded. And she said, ‘Let’s do another take where you have to tell me I have cancer.” Boom: the tears flowed.
In 1989, three years after Ruthless People, Slater married her husband, actor-director Robert Watzke. They have a daughter, now 27, and have been together for more than 30 years.