Do you remember the classic horror movie Halloween? As Jamie Lee Curtis’ breakout role, the vintage slasher film catapulted the amateur actress to stardom. Filmed in just over two weeks, Halloween instantly went from a low-budget production to a cult favorite. Although there have been a million spin-offs, nothing tells the story of serial killer Michael Myers better than the first movie. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the original Halloween.
Return of Michael Myers
Believe it or not, the OG Halloween film was Jamie Lee Curtis’ big break. As a newbie in the Hollywood scene, Curtis had no prior acting credits to her name. In fact, she wasn’t even director John Carpenter’s first choice for the role of Laurie Strode. Apparently, Jamie feared that the legendary part would go to fellow actress Anne Lockhart.
However, Lockhart was busy with various other jobs and was forced to turn down the role. That left the part up to Curtis, whose mother had already been a horror film legend. Since Jamie’s mom, Janet Leigh, had starred as Marion Crane in Psycho, Curtis was a shoo-in for the Carpenter’s movie. According to Halloween producer Debra Hill, “I knew casting Jamie Lee would be great publicity for the film.” Boy, was she right!
Beyond The Mask
Everyone knows that the key behind the Halloween franchise is Michael Myer’s mask. But you probably didn’t know about the hilarious origins behind Michael’s signature look. Although Jamie Lee Curtis has called the mask an “enigmatic, faceless, expressionless look,” she admitted that “the problem is I can say all that and you guys can all be like, ‘Wow, she’s really smart, that was really articulate and really thoughtful.'” Curtis went on to add, “Do you know what I mean? It’s just…a William Shatner mask.” According to Hollywood folklore, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace constructed Michael’s mask from a William Shatner mask by clipping out its eyes and coloring it off-white.
The revolutionary film was created with a small budget of about $300,000. As a result, the costume department had very little money to work with for Halloween. This meant that most of the thespians had to wear their own wardrobe for the movie. Jamie Lee Curtis shared that she bought her all of her character’s clothing at JCPenny for $100. Curis also dished that buying clothes with a “costume woman” from the set felt “like going shopping with Laurie’s mother.”
One of the craziest things about Carpenter’s first Halloween is that it was shot within several weeks. This is mostly due to its incredibly tiny budget, which was mostly used to finance the movie’s Panavision cameras. Curtis revealed to Rotten Tomatoes that the break-neck speed the movie was filmed at was “fast and furious.” When asked about the length of production, Jamie told the movie review site that “I think it was 17 days.” Fans speculate that Halloween’s speedy schedule was due to Carpenter’s attempts to gain his full salary.
Remarkably, Curtis was rumored to have received just $8,000 for her pivotal role as Laurie Strode. At a supposed rate of $2,000 a week, Curtis walked away with just under $10,000 for her first acting gig. However, the film soon catapulted her into “scream queen” status. Jamie’s time working with Carpenter also helped her to earn other horror movie roles in Prom Night and Terror Train. Ironically, the slasher veteran doesn’t enjoy watching scary movies herself. On the commentary for the 35th anniversary Blu-ray disc of Halloween, Curtis told Carpenter that “there is nothing I find interesting, provocative, titillating about being frightened.”
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