Interview: Jamie Lee Curtis From ‘You Again’

Jamie Lee Curtis stars in You Again a comedy about the impact high school bullies can have on us later in life. Kristen Bell stars as a successful young woman who is horrified to find that her brother is about to marry the girl who once made her life hell. To complicate matters, Curtis’s character is reunited with her own arch rival or ‘frenemy’ from high school, played by Sigourney Weaver. Check out our interview with Jamie Lee Curtis below!

What was it like working with Sigourney Weaver?

Jamie Lee Curtis: It was great, a fun time. Sigourney and I did not really know each other at all before this film. She plays my nemesis. And we are perfect opposites in real life. I am from the West Coast, the daughter of movie stars (Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis). I am uneducated (laughs). Seriously, I am. If you think I am intelligent it is all fake. She is from a respected journalistic, intelligent, intellectual family. She went to Yale and she speaks 20 languages. She runs a theatre. We just could not be more different. And these two women we play could not be more different people. We met at the rehearsals and had a great time together.

So what was it like acting with her and being with her?

Jamie Lee Curtis: It was great. Her process is very different. She is very detail oriented, she does a lot of background work, that is her process. And I just walk in and ask: ‘what is the common denominator?’

Did you two bond right away?

Jamie Lee Curtis: We did. I just think, honestly, bonding with someone is all about sharing difficulties in life and discussing them with each other. You start talking about things that are challenging in your life and you find that other people have the same challenges or similar ones or they can identify with you or they have something in common. My son, who has all sorts of interesting challenges in his life, ran for office in his school and he didn’t win. What he said was impressive although I am sure he heard it from somebody else. He said, ‘you know, there are a thousand lessons in losing and only one lesson in winning.’ I think that for the most part, when we meet, most of us find that the common link is a difficulty we have shared. If I have a kid with some learning issues, and I am talking to someone and discover they may have a brother with learning issues too, boom, we are bonding and then the next thing you know we are off in a corner going ‘What did you try? Did you try this?’ – ‘Oh yeah – I tried that.’ ‘Oh yeah.’ The next thing I know, we are saying: ‘I will see you tomorrow’ and we have connected about something that is a challenge.

What attracted you to You Again?

Jamie Lee Curtis: The first thing was that it was being shot in Los Angeles last summer for six weeks. So I did not have to leave home (laughs). Also I got to work with all these nice women. It was funny. And it was for Disney, a company I have already worked with. Also I thought the story was very cute. Andy Fickman (the director) is great and seemed like a nice guy. They paid me a little bit too! It was such a nice group of people and a lovely funny movie, shot in L.A. That is rare.

Did you relate to the character at all?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I didn’t relate to the fighting part of the story. I could relate to the idea of seeing someone that you used to know and having some sort of history with them. And I knew Disney would do a great job with it. I thought all the other actors were funny. Betty White is in it—how could that not be fun, to work with her?

When was the last time you ran into someone from your past?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I meet so many people telling me mostly how much they love Activia yogurt, so I never know if they are from my past. (She is the spokesperson for the brand.) I’ve been in a lot of movies. And I’m the daughter of very famous people. I’m also married to a very famous guy. And I do a lot of things—acting and books. But nothing else in my life gets people coming up to me saying, ‘You’ve changed my life. Because of you and that product, my life is different.’ People just walk up to me and say ‘I love your Activia. I am a convert. And I swear by it.’ This happens to me all day long. If someone runs into me and says ‘we went to high school together’ and we didn’t, I go ‘really, where did we go to high school together?’ They go ‘Newark.’ ‘Really?’ It is that weird fantasy where people think they went to school with you. Guys will say, ‘hey, we were dating in high school.’

How would you describe your character Gail?

Jamie Lee Curtis: She was a high school friend of Sigourney Weaver’s character Ramona. I was the class president, the head cheerleader and prom queen and there was a little rivalry between them, and Sigourney arrives on the eve of my son’s wedding.

How authentic is the story and premise?

Jamie Lee Curtis: Gail has a line in the movie, she says: ‘No one gets out of high school unscathed.’ It really is the truth. There’s not a human being I’ve ever met that had a good time in high school, or that didn’t have a rough patch. Gail’s daughter Marni is thrust back into her high-school self when she sees Joanna.

Is there a theme do you think to this film?

Jamie Lee Curtis: With every relationship there is the old golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I don’t go into a comedy looking to have a big message. I look to see if it will be funny and what I can do to make it funnier. If somewhere in it there’s some essential truth, then that’s a lovely by-product of the storytelling, but it’s not what I set out to do. Honestly, I just thought it was fun.

What group were you in at high school?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I was a cheerleader. I was kind of middle of the road. I went to a girls’ school. I was a good girl. I still am. I just wanted to fit in. I still do.

Can you talk about your character’s style? Gail is not the stylish one like Sigourney’s character is she?

Jamie Lee Curtis: What about the lovely dress I wear for the wedding? (She turns up wearing the same dress as her rival.) I love it. I actually find wardrobe the most satisfying part of being an actor, finding clothes that actually suit the person rather than just choosing what necessarily looks good on me. I love the idea that you go to specific stores they would pick. I remember when I did the movie HALLOWEEN thinking ‘I am a girl from the Midwest’ so I said—’let’s go to JC Penney’ (department store). So we went to JC Penney and we bought her entire wardrobe there. It was the skirt and the little separates that matched, the knee high socks with the loafers. I put that outfit on, and immediately I felt like that person. For Gail in YOU AGAIN I knew she shopped at Talbots (clothes store). I knew exactly where she shopped.

You look fantastic and have always been known for your great figure as well as your acting. Are you confident about your own looks and style?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I appreciate that, but I don’t feel that at all. I just don’t. I just cannot look at these women’s magazines with pictures of these glamorous women. I cannot look at them. They make me feel bad. My husband, who is a very smart guy doesn’t buy into anything in show business at all. He said to me once. ‘You should see your face, when you are looking at these magazines.’ I used to buy all these magazines when I was traveling, I would just buy them all. But he said: ‘your face changes. You have a happy face. When you are with your family, you are happy. Then you look at these magazines and you get this look of sadness when you read them.’ We all do. Every time we see a picture of Angelina Jolie, we are like ‘oh . . . what is the point?’ She is so beautiful.

You have become a trendsetter by keeping your hair gray.

Jamie Lee Curtis: That will change, too. It is obscene what people are doing to themselves. I just know that women by nature put themselves down. I don’t wake up and go, ‘Damn, I am looking okay.’ But I am trying to be realistic about who I am. My mother was from that generation where looks and staying thin was your commodity. But you have to remember if your body is your commodity you’re screwed, because your body is going to change. Women surgically change themselves, trying to stave off the very natural evolution of the human body. Women’s bodies age the way they do to protect their bodies. There is a reason why we get fat in certain places.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I do the same things everybody else does. I eat well. I don’t drink. I exercise moderately. I play a little tennis with some girlfriends a couple of times a week. I walk a little bit. I have dogs, so I walk with my dogs around my block. I don’t run. I’ve never run a mile in my life. My mother was a natural beauty. She was thin. I watch what I eat a lot. I don’t eat bread and cake. I am that person who used to like carbohydrates, and I have just realized that that is not particularly good for me any more. I don’t metabolize bread like I used to. But I am not a maniac. I was out in a beautiful restaurant last night in the mountains and they had beautiful bread and butter and salt, and I was like ‘yeah!’ I eat moderately. When I have a pair of pants that are a little tight I watch what I eat a little more. Then if I put on my pants and they are falling off, I am happy, and I go ‘Hey, let’s go.’

Apart from acting are you still enjoying writing children’s books?

Jamie Lee Curtis: Yes I am, and the latest one is called My Mommy Hung the Moon.

Would you write for adults?

Jamie Lee Curtis: No, that would involve too many words. I write for kids. There are maybe fourteen words in the whole book. That is perfect.

You Again on DVD and Blu-ray February 8th!


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