Jamie Lee Curtis has won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as an IRS auditor in Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s genre-defying “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” For her performance in the year’s most nominated film, Curtis beat out her co-star Stephanie Hsu, as well as Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), and Hong Chau (“The Whale”) in what was a competitive Oscar field full of veteran favorites and exciting newcomers.
This is the first Oscar win and nomination for Curtis, whose long and prolific career began as the quintessential final girl. Until last year, she was best known for originating the role of Laurie Strode in the “Halloween” franchise, though she was also highly successful outside of horror in films like “Knives Out” (2019), “True Lies” (1994), “A Fish Called Wanda” (1988), and “Trading Places” (1983).
“I’ve met Deirdre,” Curtis told IndieWire of her “Everything Everywhere All at Once” character, Deirdre Beaubeirdre. “I know a couple of Deirdres. Three years ago, I was a 60-year-old woman who has had heartbreak, disappointment, been overlooked. I have felt abandoned. I have felt rejection. And I have been forgotten. I know what that feels like emotionally.”
Though she only has 17 minutes of screen time in the absurdist sci-fi comedy, Curtis made the biggest splash in the film’s most oddly grounded alternate universe, in which she and Michelle Yeoh play lesbian lovers with hot dogs for fingers. The ridiculous visual combined with the emotional drama of their fading love affair made for one of the more surreal cinematic inventions of the year. Recognizable and easy to execute, the hot dog fingers became a particularly popular halloween costume last year. Improbably, their relationship is one of the film’s most poignant storylines, which is a testament to Curtis and Yeoh’s performance.
“The moment with Michelle [Yeoh] in the hot dog universe on the page reads in a way as being absurd. As Michelle and I created this world together quickly, the improvisation that came out of it was the breakup, the heartbreak of breaking up with someone, regardless of the fact that you have hotdog hands so you have to pull your suitcases with your feet,” said Curtis. “All of that awful aspect of the breakup became this rich and fertile emotional soil. And Michelle went there. I went there. It became incredibly poignant.”
As the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Curtis has long been considered Hollywood royalty.
“Now I got lucky,” she said. “I have beautiful genetics. My mother: gorgeous woman, my father was very handsome. And I have nice skin, but I knew that I would never become a ‘cosmeceutical’ person. I am not going to advertise that ‘if you do this, you will look different and feel different.’ That’s just not going to be my path.”
With her dowdy grey bob and mustard turtleneck sweater vest, Deirdre is a far cry from the aging gracefully image most actresses try to cultivate. But that didn’t intimidate Curtis, a consummate professional who gladly exposed what she needed for the character to feel natural.
“I’m not sucking my stomach in,” she said. “But I’m not not sucking my stomach in. This is what it looks like. And I worked out this morning. I’m 64. But my point is this, I am not fat shaming. I’m saying that for most people who sit at a desk all day long that’s what it looks like. No, I didn’t stick it out. I just relaxed. I relaxed my stomach. And if I relax it today, I’m not pushing, I’m just relaxing. I’m not doing what we all do 90% of the time, which is is clench ourselves.”
Of the races leading up to the Oscars, Curtis was popular with her fellow actors, taking home the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. Aside from having a stellar reputation for being lovely to work with, Curtis has long been respected as an outspoken advocate for trans rights and gender parity in Hollywood. With her first Oscar win, she seals her fate as a major acting talent who stands on her own.
“Being on set is very, very involved. I ask a lot of questions. I watch how people use the camera: angles, lenses. I felt the depth of it all. The first time I started speaking as Deirdre, I knew she sounded like a combination of Fauci and Bernie Sanders. I knew she wasn’t from LA. It wasn’t heavy handed. There was just a relaxing of my jaw a little bit and nobody said anything. So I just kept doing it.”