Jamie Lee Curtis: On Growing Older & Wiser

Four years ago, Jamie Lee Curtis made magazine history by revealing her true body — even a poochy midriff — in More. Could she get any more real? She could. She does.

By Amy Wallace

For example, I am a decent cook now. My mother, let’s just say, was very thin and leave it at that. Food was not something that was a pleasure in life and therefore not something that was a pleasure in our growing up. So I’ve had to learn to enjoy food and to cook.

Wallace: You’ve been married for almost 22 years. How have you learned to make that work?

Curtis: Marriage is an evolution, and you only hope that you evolve with it — if not intertwined, then on parallel paths. When we married, we were both actors. Since then, Chris has become a director who rarely acts in other people’s movies — although he was wonderful in Mrs. Henderson Presents. And I’ve done commercial endorsements, written seven books for children, become a recovering alcoholic publicly, and we’ve had two children. Both of us have lost parents — he lost his father right when Tommy was born. And all of that yields different people at different times. If you’re lucky.

Wallace: Do you think one of the keys is, for lack of a better phrase, to give each other space?

Curtis: There’s a lot of space in our marriage. When we first got married, we were reading William Safire’s "On Language" column in the New York Times, and he mentioned that a syzygy is a pair of opposites. We named our company Syzygy Industries, because Chris and I are that in every way. And it has been challenging to find common ground. It’s not been great all the time. It has been an almost-22-year untangling. Me untangling myself and him going, "Hey, wait a minute! Who are you now?" He has had to learn who I really am. And it’s maybe not the woman that I pretended to be. He’s had his mind blown that I read Us magazine, you know what I mean? Because for years, I would only walk around with The Nation in my hand. But we’ve navigated it. In that has been the hope, because I can always reach out and there he is. And he can always reach out and there I am. And because we’ve untangled a lot of the knots, there’s also been some real appreciation on both our parts for who that other person is becoming, is daring to be.

Curtis on Finding Her Own Voice

Wallace: What else have you untangled?

Curtis: Well, at one point, I hung out with really smart lefty people and the next thing you know, I was this lefty girl. But you know what? I don’t know where I stand on abortion. I know I don’t believe that the state has any right on any level to decide what happens in a woman’s body. But I am the mother of two adopted children. My life has been immeasurably changed by being a mother to these two kids. And I wouldn’t be a mother if someone had aborted those two kids. So it’s complicated. For years, whatever my friends said, I said, that’s what I believe too. But I actually have a very personal, emotional, opinion about it.

Wallace: You’re on a roll. Keep going.

Curtis: Okay. Hang me out to dry, but I’m a big believer that all kids should wear uniforms. Kids get in a lot of trouble with clothing, status symbols, the demarcation lines that make people feel less than, more than. I think it should be based on a lot of other factors and not on what you wear. Now, that’s an unpopular point of view for liberals. They want everyone to be "free to be you and me" all the time. I want them to express themselves. I just don’t want that horrible demarcation line that happens in life to happen earlier than it should.

Curtis on Self-Esteem

Wallace: Again, it’s about self-esteem. Back in 2002, you told me that you hoped that someday soon, you’d feel sure enough of yourself to "look like just me. There is a me that I will get to that will say to the editors of magazines, ‘This is what I wear, this is how I wear my hair.’ . . . I’m going to look the way God intended me to look — with a little help from Manolo Blahnik." When I saw your beautiful silver hair today, I wondered: Are you there yet?

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