What’s Celebrity Flashback? From 1996 – 2000, I met dozens of celebrities while working in the West Coast bureau of Premiere Magazine and later, at Us Weekly. These interviews ran the gamut from 30 seconds on the red carpet (Leonardo DiCaprio) to an hour on set (George Clooney). And of course, there were many stars I never interviewed or even saw – not ever in the entire time I worked in Hollywood (Julia Roberts). In Celebrity Flashback, I’ll share the details of one of those close encounters.
Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween: H20
It was 1998. When I heard they were making a Halloween: H20, I knew I HAD to visit the set for the “In the Works” section of Premiere. It wasn’t too difficult a sell to my editors. The movie, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1978 original classic, starred Jamie Lee Curtis, plus up-and-comers like Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams. And Debra Hill, one of film’s original producers, was a friend of the magazine. I got to meet her at our annual Women in Hollywood event. She was a short, blonde, round, sweet, unassuming, very regular lady. Not a power tripper at all. She loved that I was a fan of the original. I think it was her first film ever, and probably her most famous.
Anyway, I was thrilled to drive out to La Puente, California to meet Jamie and Josh on the set of Halloween: H20. The downtown main street of tiny La Puente was serving as the downtown of fictional Summer Glen, where Jamie’s character lived as headmistress of Hillcrest, a school in northern California. That day, they were filming a totally boring ‘filler’ scene where Jamie’s character has white-wine lunch with her boyfriend played by Adam Arkin.
After watching the pointless scene, I went to Jamie’s trailer to talk about making the original, and why she’d agreed to do this one — essentially part 7. She told me how incestuous the making of the original was. I believe John Carpenter and Debra were a couple at that point. And some of the other actors were dating each other. The guy who played Michael Myers was dating one of them, I think. She was happy to retell those memories, so that was cool.
Jamie was friendly but I wouldn’t call her warm. She had kind of a masculine, aggressive way about her. A little scary. I could tell the unit publicist was scared of her too. When Jamie needed something, she bellowed out to the unit publicist, ‘MARGARET!!!!!’ Margaret immediately busted into a sprint to get to us. Jamie chuckled and said to me, ‘Look at her run!’
What can you say? She’s a legend. She’s Janet Leigh’s daughter for godssake.
Separately, I met Josh Hartnett, new hottie on the scene. He played Jamie’s son John. He and Jamie had no interaction while I was there; he seemed to be holed up in his trailer with his beanie cap and his music. He seemed like a stoner. It was his first movie ever and I could tell he’d rather be off making a Gus Van Sant film, artiste that he is. I got nothing use-able from him. That’s probably why my write-up never ran.
Later I talked to LL Cool J on the phone. He had a bit part in the movie as a security guard. No idea why. We talked for about five minutes, and he mentioned he was playing at the House of Blues that week, and I should come. He put me on ‘the list.’ Then the call dropped and he never called me back. I did go to the show. Thrillingly, he started the show with a super-loud remix rendition of the famous Halloween theme music.
My biggest regret of the whole deal is I didn’t get to see Michael Myers on the set. No sign of him. I have often wondered if they do that on purpose — schedule press visits on days when he isn’t there so as not to ruin the magic — or if it was my bad planning.
I’ll never know. Happy Halloween!