Jamie Lee Curtis Embraces the F-Word (No, Not That One)

She’s fierce, she’s funny, and now she’s turning 50.

By Strawberry Saroyan
Jamie Lee Curtis in MORE's July/August 2008 issue
Photograph: Photo by: Andrew Eccles

Jamie Lee Curtis Turns 50
Jamie Lee Curtis sits in the dining room of a house in Malibu being primped and powdered for her MORE cover shoot. Her silvery gray hair, cropped close to the scalp, needs little attention, so her stylist, Sean, is entertaining everyone instead. He informs Curtis that he’s keeping a journal of his dreams.
"Am I in it?"
Sean nods yes.
"What was I wearing?"
"Not much," he replies.
They laugh.
Even in the days when Curtis was known as The Body — hers having been on display in 1983’s Trading Places and 1985’s Perfect — she would have found this humorous. Now that she has left her quest for perfection behind, she barely gives it a second thought. Rising from her chair, she heads for a bedroom filled with gowns (gold lamé, white organza, red satin) and stiletto-heel shoes. Emerging 10 minutes later, she is clad in an ice-blue silk number with a ruched bust and gold-grommeted Jimmy Choos on her feet. "I’m in a dress with heels that already hurt!" she yells, sauntering over to the light-filled living room where the photographer has set up.
The shoot lasts a couple of hours, and Curtis is a pro throughout. "This doesn’t feel like a sitting dress," she says at one point while perched awkwardly on a prop. She stands, and everyone sees that she is right. "I’m commando," she warns later. She even makes fun of her body, grabbing her breasts in one shot. MORE‘s photo director, laughing, asks, "What’s the F-word for that?" referring to the day-in-the-life shoot the actress just completed for the magazine. "Fallen," Curtis replies, and grins. "Former," she adds, cracking up.
Accepting the reality of your body is verboten in Los Angeles, but Curtis is famous for it. In 2002, she posed for MORE in her skivvies and became a spokesperson for women tired of trying to live up to a Photoshopped ideal. Today Curtis admits that she got so caught up in not caring about body image at that time that she stopped thinking about fitness. "So I made a change and lost some weight," she says. "And for me, the fun thing is to lift a 20-pound weight in the gym and think, I was carrying that around?" She’s taken up Pilates and tennis. "I’m competitive now. You get me on a tennis court, I’m going to give you some game."
Curtis will be 50 on November 22, and she’s more than happy with the view from there. "Fifty is a big corner to turn," she says. "It used to mean being put out to pasture, but it’s the opposite with me. I feel more vibrant; I’m more active than I’ve ever been. The F-word really is freedom. It’s the freedom to have dropped the rock — the rock of addiction, of family, of comparisons with other people. It’s being fit and focused and kind of furious."
Hers is a philosophy that resonates for many women, but it is especially meaningful to actresses struggling with the indignities of Hollywood. "I don’t want to be 60 and getting a call from a third assistant director telling me I have night shooting," Curtis says. "I don’t want to worry about what I look like, whether I’ve got my big boobies pouring out of a gown.
"I have watched, my whole life, people age and become buffoons," she adds. "When you crest in your 30s or 40s and then you don’t pull out of the public eye, you become a caricature. You have to have grace, dignity, and gratitude, and walk away kind of slowly, like you’re walking away from a bear." She mimics someone doing that: "‘I’m going to go now, bear. Don’t kill me, don’t rip my fucking face off.’"

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