As a 62-year-old actress who made her film debut at age 20 as Laurie in the 1978 horror classic Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis has learned first-hand what it’s like to age in Hollywood. Luckily, she was also prepared for the harsh reality of getting older in the industry thanks to seeing how it affected her legendary parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
“I’m the child of movie stars. I watched my parents get face lifts and neck lifts,” Curtis told PEOPLE in the ’90s podcast hosts Jason Sheeler and Andrea Lavinthal on this week’s episode. “I watched their work diminish, I watched their fame not diminish. And the contradiction of a lot of fame, but not a lot of work, is really hard to navigate for people. Very hard to be famous but not be doing the thing that made you famous. And that for the rest of your life, you’re famous for something you did a long time ago, and you chase that attention.”
Of course, her own career has played out differently: Curtis has maintained steady film and television work throughout her career, from her iconic striptease in True Lies to the Ryan Murphy horror-comedy Scream Queens to the revived Halloween franchise, with the latest sequel, Halloween Kills, due in theaters Oct. 15.
“I wanted to be mindful, as the daughter of stars,” Curtis explains. “And so, I was hedging my bets, ’cause I don’t want to be the person pining away for work and not getting it. It’s humiliating and it’s a hard business. It’s all about what you look like.”
In 2018, Curtis revealed she became addicted to opiates after undergoing plastic surgery to fix her “hereditary puffy eyes.” And while the pills were initially prescribed, she spent the next decade getting painkillers any way she could, she told People at the time.
Curtis wasn’t the first or only member of her family to battle addiction. Her father, Tony Curtis, abused alcohol, cocaine, and heroin for numerous years, and her half-brother, Nicholas Curtis, died of an overdose in 1994. However, Jamie Lee Curtis was (and is) determined to break the cycle.
The actress has also been determined to break the cycle of age discrimination in Hollywood. In 2002, at the age of 43, Lee insisted on being photographed for the cover of More Magazine with no makeup, no hair styling, and wearing only an exercise bra and underwear to expose the myth of perfection that women believe.
She told More Magazine at the time, “I don’t want the unsuspecting forty-year-old woman of the world to think that I’ve got it going on. It’s such a fraud. And I’m the one perpetuating it.”
Before you go, click here to see actresses over 50 who are more successful now than ever.