Jamie Lee Curtis: Reflections on a life nearly lost to addiction

Jamie Lee Curtis: Reflections on a life nearly lost to addiction


The single greatest accomplishment of my human life was arresting my addiction to opiates and alcohol. Jamie Lee Curtis is many things. An actress, an author, an addiction survivor and an actual Baroness. But before all that, she was the girl who survived. Back in 1978 the movie ‘Halloween’ gave birth to the slasher movie genre. And it also turned Jamie Lee Curtis into a star. And now all these years later she is back not just to survive, but to have her final revenge. So I can kill him. Do it again? Yeah, you have a very bad clap. Do you want a really good clap? Yeah? Do you want to give me a good clap? Oh! There it is. That’s a good skill. Everybody needs a friend that’s a good clap starter. I’m a clap starter. I should probably say hi to you. Hello. – I’m Marc, nice to meet you.
– I’m Jamie. Hi Marc. So, one of the striking things about this film is that a couple of minutes in you actually realise it’s a film about trauma. All this hiding, all this preparation it was for nothing. It took priority over your family. It cost you your family. This trauma that has sustained for a really long time. And I was curious, what about that idea… What was it about that concept that appealed to you? You know, we make horror movies. Well I don’t. You do. But I don’t like them. But we make these movies, but we never talk about what happens to anybody. You know, we inflict this sort of intense experience, on unsuspecting often young people. But then we never revisit it. And never know really what happened. And throughout the world traumas happen. And we very rarely go back and ask “How’re you doing?” And I loved that this was a movie that went back 40 years later to explore and to expose the realities of trauma on a human being who is not given any mental health services, help, support etc. That’s the idea. So today we will be reading one of our favourite books. Welcome to story time with Erin. We are going to read… ‘Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born’ By Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell. You wrote a beautiful book called ‘Tell Me About The Night I Was Born’ Yes. And it’s an exploration of adopting children, you’ve adopted children yourself and I’ve heard you describe it as a sacred gift. It is. What did you mean by that, for somebody’s who’s never experienced that what does that term mean? So, families are built through all sorts of ways but the act of placing, of carrying and birthing a child and placing that child in the receiving hands of a mother who is in that moment declaring that she will throw down her own life and sacrifice every single thing that she has for the care and raising and feeding of that child, that exchange is a sacred exchange but the gift may not be a sacred gift for the child because that is theirs to work out, whether or not they are happy about it or sad about it or angry about it. A lot of people misunderstand adoption and they used pejorative words and phrases to go a long with it. So they’ll say things like: “Did you buy your baby?” They’ll say in front of your child “That’s not your real mum, right?” And so I wrote a book out of my experience of trying to… re-align people’s idea of what it means to have an adoptive family. I actually wrote it primarily for that nasty mum in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Was this a real person or imaginary person? Let me just say there’s a little bit of a composite, if I will. But, you know, she said something like “Oh, no, no, she’s not her real mum.” or something horrible and I remember going like “Ooooo-kay.” Here’s a book for Christmas. “Yeah I’m gonna go home and write a book and I’m gonna shove it up your…” It was cathartic then for you? Well everything I have ever done is cathartic. Really everything? I’ve written 14 books for children, every one has come out of me in a weird birthing process of their own. I refer to it as the closest to rap that I will ever do. I interviewed once, LL Cool J was in the movie ‘Halloween H2O’ and I said something about “So this whole freestyling thing, is that like real?” “Like are you telling me, you could freestyle about anything right here, right now?” and he said “Yeah.” and I said “Okay freestyle about the mash potatoes.” And he did and that flow, is no different than the books that I’ve written for children. They come out of me in a flow and they come out all in tact, almost entirely the book that is published is what pops into my head. I’m curious, of all the different projects you’ve done so let’s take books, tv shows, movies. – There’s been milestones.
– You have… You’re omitting commercials. – Okay, well let’s include commercials as well.
– Okay, please. Thank you. The reason I’m setting it up that way is because I want to know of the different projects you’ve done Which one changed you the most? It wasn’t work. It wasn’t work? So what was it then? I got sober. How hard was that? That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And it is a most human thing to say “I am in trouble, I need help.” We over-analyse it, we over-verbalise it and I think it scares people off because it seems daunting. And I can tell you from my own experience that the single greatest accomplishment of my human life was arresting my addiction to opiates and alcohol. And… And I talk to people all day long about addiction because it is not a… If it’s a secret it will kill you. If it’s not a secret you may be able to save your own life. So what would you tell yourself about that process that you wish you had known before you embarked on the process of sobriety? You know what? The truth of the matter is Nobody is ready until they’re ready. Nobody can hear things until they’re ready to hear them. And so there would of been nothing I could of said to me, that would of helped me in that moment. I had to come to that understanding myself and seek help, the way I did. We all would like to go back to our younger selves. How old are you? Thirty-three. Alright you’re 33 I’m gonna be 60 in November. On Thanksgiving. We all would like to back to our 15-year-old-self and we’d all say “lighten up!” “It’s gonna be okay!” “You’re beautiful, you’re gonna have a happy life…” We all would like to go back to our 15-year-old-selves and give ourselves a hug and a real cuddle and say “It’s gonna be okay.” Everybody walked through glass, broken glass and fire in their adolescence, everybody. Nobody, nobody, nobody got through that unscathed. It’s the process of human evolution, it’s a difficult time and so the message I would give you, me and anybody who’s watching this, anywhere in the world, is you’re gonna be okay. – Jamie Lee Curtis
– Thank you. Lovely to talk to you, I could talk to you all day long.

19 comments

  1. I was addicted to opioids for 5 years. Stumbled across codeine when I wanted to try to OD. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for 12 years and in the middle of those 12 years I just wanted it to end it all. But instead of dying I got addicted. Codeine kept me happy and able to do general daily tasks that I couldn’t before . But it nearly killed me also . Now I have ulcers all throughout my esophagus and stomach. Had to have 3 blood transfusions and so many trips to the hospital. Kept my addiction a secret for 4 and a half years. Nearly 3 years sober now , but not one day goes by when I don’t want to jump back on the band wagon. It’s hard but I’m gonna push through.

  2. I really enjoy THE FEED’s interviews, they are so deep and personal but in a respectful way, good job 👏🏼 👏🏼
    And Jamie you are a queen 👑

  3. I was introduced to Jamie Curtis 40 years ago with the film Halloween. I've followed her career all these 40 years. Still proud of her and love her books and acting career.

  4. Most of you do not have chronic pain. Take Excedrin like your doctor says! Thanks to you addicts, the folks who do need them suffer because of your stupidity. Now, you are trying to make gabapentin your next high! Leave the real folks who do suffer pain alone! Right Jamie Lee Curtis! No pain no gain! So what are you doing now for your phantom pain at your age? Trying to gain popularity by your publicists!

  5. Love Jamie Lee Curtis. She's so forward and honest in her voice and intentions, such an amazing woman. She's so brave for sharing her story and being so authentic.

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