Jamie Lee Curtis: You Again star spills secrets

Sep 22, 2010 at 3:07 p.m. ET

Jamie Lee Curtis is living life as it is supposed to be lived. Whether it’s her stellar film career including the upcoming You Again, Curtis’ successful turn as a children’s author or as a spokesperson for numerous causes benefiting women, Jamie Lee Curtis lives in the moment.

Curtis first burst onto the screen scene as a scream queen in Halloweenand Prom Night. The actress then effortlessly moved to comedy with her scene-stealing turn in Trading Places. Curtis admitted to us exclusively that her film career has been a series of successes, sure, but it's been built on her devotion to her family and what was right for her at the time. Simply, she took film roles when she had the time to make movies.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell in You Again

Jamie Lee Curtis is a role model for women everywhere as she has bucked the Hollywood tradition of fighting aging and embraced it wholeheartedly -- her hair is grey! As we sit with her in Curtis' suite at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, she is dressed to the nines and her attitude and persona are pure living in the moment bliss.

Curtis visits with SheKnows to discuss her acting career, life as a best-selling author (her latest, My Mommy Hung the Moon is out now) and how her latest film, You Again, was an opportunity to play with some of the best actresses working across generations including Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Bell and Betty White.

Jamie Lee Curtis You Again exclusive!

SheKnows: You Again is such a joy, it's so cute and so funny.

Jamie Lee Curtis: It's a nice movie right now. What I like about it -- it doesn't pretend to be something more than it is. From the beginning, we didn't pretend to be more than we were -- a fun comedy. But nobody thought we were going to make the greatest comedy ever made. Nobody thought we were going to make the most heartfelt, it was what it was. There is great pleasure in just making light entertainment that's fun. It has some nice feelings attached to it, but basically we knew we were making something just positive and fun.

SheKnows: The cast has impeccable chemistry. Were you familiar with anyone in the cast, say Sigourney Weaver, who you may have run into over the years?

Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis: I hadn't met Sigourney. A lot of us didn't know each other. A few people had met, but nobody had ever worked together.

SheKnows: What about the film's premise that these two sets of women come together not realizing they are each other's high school nemesis?

Jamie Lee Curtis: That's the nature of the piece is you've got these two different stories going where you're kind of blind to one part of the story living your own story. That's why it works so well. The daughters don't know what the adults are going through and the adults didn't know what the daughters have going on, but we're all in the same room at the same time. So it allowed all of us to play with each other in a way that wouldn't be possible in another kind of movie.

SheKnows: Also it struck me too; we're talking a lot today about fantastic actresses in this movie. But, one of my favorite performers is Victor Garber, who plays your husband. What did you like most about working with Victor?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I liked that he knew exactly why we were there. We knew exactly how much screen time we were going to get. We all knew that the focus of the movie was the Marni (Kristen Bell) character. We all worked in support of it. You left work knowing that what you did onscreen may be cut. And Victor certainly knew that and made the most of every scene.

Jamie Lee and her daughter Annie GuestJamie Lee Curtis: Author

SheKnows: Now, you have a new children's book coming out, what got you to start writing books?

Jamie Lee Curtis: You know it's weird, it was 20 years ago. My daughter is 24 this December. It was really sort of a curve. The first book I wrote, she just came into my room when she was about four and said something really funny about her cats and it just made me laugh. I wrote down When I was Little: A Four-Year Old's Memoir of Her Youth. It just made me laugh. I wrote down these things and the next thing I knew it was a book. I didn't plan on writing a book that day, I had never thought about writing a book. I wrote a book and they bought it and now it's nine books and 20 years later. Fate!

SheKnows: Wow, it is.

Jamie Lee Curtis: I'm not smart like that. I'm not a book smart person and I never got through school. I read a lot, I try to study when I can, but I'm not a particularly intelligent person. I'm not a highly intellectual person and I don't pretend to be and I don't want to be. I married one (Christopher Guest), but I'm not myself an intellectual. And yet I found a voice to write books without ever having a fantasy in my head about it.

SheKnows: So it's safe to say that 30 years ago, you never thought you'd be on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Jamie Lee Curtis: Literally, it's crazy -- no, no, no! First of all, if you had said would you be married for 26 years and have two kids, I would have thought that was crazy. I mean, there are so many "do you think you woulds in my life," this is just one. It's a creative outlet for me that I never ever even entertained because I always thought I had to have some credential or some higher education to become an author. For me, it's the best way I can communicate ideas and feelings.

Jamie Lee Curtis: Family first, films second

Jamie Lee and her husband Christopher GuestSheKnows: Your film career has been varied from comedies to thrillers -- all across the board. Was that necessarily something you sought out to do or was it more organically?

Jamie Lee Curtis: I don't think there was a real plan. My secret is I just show up and I know it seems weird at 52, coming up to 52, to say this. I've taken every job I've ever been offered. So I go where the work is and I just dive in. I'm saying that I took the jobs that were available to me when I was available for them, or my family life allowed me to do them. I've been offered things I didn't do because they meant I had to go to Vancouver for four months, which I couldn't do because I have kids in school. But of all the work I've done, it happened to be things that came to me when I was available to do work. I've virtually never turned anything down unless it's for travel reasons.

SheKnows: So You Again was a good script, but more importantly, good timing?

Jamie Lee Curtis: You Again -- this just happened to be perfect. It was late summer -- perfect! That's how I have done it. I did horror films because that was the work I got. Then I made a specific decision at one time not to do any more. Then, I got offered Trading Places four months later.

SheKnows: You're versatile, it's a wonderful thing.

Jamie Lee Curtis: I just see what happens. Now, I admire people whose work I look at and it looks like some kind of a career strategy, it looks thought out architecturally. But I just find I show up where people want me and if the timing is right, I'm in!