Oral Histories

An Oral History of Halloween's Laurie Strode With Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter

Dive deep on the ultimate final girl, from the casting of Curtis and finding Laurie's fighting side to the changed woman we meet in 2018.

by | October 10, 2018 | Comments

Slasherdom’s ultimate final girl, Laurie Strode, is back in theaters this October – and she’s a changed woman. In David Gordon Green‘s Halloween, set 40 years after John Carpenter‘s horror classic, Strode is at once a tough-as-nails grandma ready for her ultimate showdown, and a shell of her former self. She’s been beaten up by years of dealing, and not dealing, with the trauma of the night “the Shape” first came into her life, turning to drinking and drugs and failed relationships for support, turning away her family and loved ones. For audiences, it’s a shock to see: this is what happened to sweet, innocent, Laurie Strode? The babysitter who couldn’t even inhale that joint? For Jamie Lee Curtis, the woman who’s played her across 40 years, it’s a tragic but logical progression. “She lost everything,” says Curtis. “Nobody went and embraced her. All of the innocence is gone.” To mark Strode’s return to the big screen, we sat down with Curtis and Carpenter, who created the character with Debra Hill, for a deep-dive on Laurie – from the casting of Jamie Lee to the character’s lasting appeal and, finally, to the woman we find in Green’s new film.

What follows is a history of Laurie Strode drawn from sit-down interviews with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis. 


To have that kind of complete character was exciting for me.”

Jamie Lee Curtis: “I had done a TV series prior to Halloween. But I was one of 13 or 14 regulars on a half-hour, one-camera TV show. If I had two lines a week, that was a lot. All I remember about Halloween was that it was a script where every single page had the name ‘Laurie’ on it. What I knew was that it was a big part. To have something where it was that kind of complete character was kind of exciting for me.

The roots of this were so low-scale. It was crappy little offices in this old building on Cahuenga Boulevard [where Curtis auditioned]. It was two little offices, side by side: One was Debra Hill’s, one was John Carpenter’s. That was the extent of their big production offices.”

(Photo by © Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

“Jamie had a quality about her.”

John Carpenter: “We picked a scene in the script and she read it, and she had a quality about her. There was an innocence and yet a strength going on in there, and I really liked it. Plus, the girl I wanted for the part had turned me down – so Jamie was perfect!”

“We went to J. C. Penney and bought back-to-school clothes for this girl.”

Curtis: “I remember meeting with the costume woman, talking about Laurie, and we went to J. C. Penney and we basically bought back-to-school clothes for this girl. It was like going shopping with Laurie’s mother. There was that skirt, then there was the turtle neck, and then the little cardigan sweater, and the thigh-high big socks.

I’d had a perm when I met John, but then they decided they wanted my hair straight – or, not straight, but not frizzy like a perm. I remember putting hot rollers in my hair each day to get it to straighten out.”

“She did smoke pot… which was such an anomaly for a good girl”

Curtis: “[She] was the archetype that had to be the center of that story, which is an innocent girl, without boyfriends, without experience. She’s the good girl, even though she did smoke pot, which is such an anomaly for a good girl. But the way she smokes it, you can see she’s not experienced. She coughs and she sort of blows it.” 

(Photo by © Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

“The audience was let in on her vulnerability from the very beginning.”

Curtis: “The movie was conceived as The Babysitter Murders. Moustapha Akkad went to John Carpenter and said, ‘I wanna make a movie about babysitters who get slashered.’ It was John and Debra who set it on Halloween night. I think it was Debra who said, ‘Let’s have it take place on Halloween night.’

It’s really the innocence of babysitting coming into conflict with this evil being. That’s why the movie worked: because she was so incredibly vulnerable. The audience was let in on her vulnerability from the very beginning. ‘I wish I had you all alone…’ ‘Oh, poor Laurie, scared another one away. It’s pathetic. You study too much.’

There is something beautiful about babysitting. Babysitters are not nannies. This was neighborhood girls coming over so the parents could go out to dinner or go out to a birthday party. There’s just something beautiful about the relationship between a babysitter [and a child]. You’re not a teacher. You’re not a governess. You’re not Mary Poppins. You’re a peer, in a weird way. You’re only probably 8 to 10 years older than the kid you’re babysitting. There’s an innocence about it all.”

“When you introduce something scary into that, you are going to step up and be the responsible quasi-adult.”

Curtis: “We are no longer innocent. Particularly in America, 9/11 removed all of our innocence. Yes, there are still small towns and yes, there are still people within them babysitting and stuff, but I think innocence has been ultimately lost because the brutal reality of life came into our lives.

(Photo by © Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

[But] the archetype still works. There is still that lovely connection and ultimately, you still are entrusted with the lives and care and safekeeping of children. When you introduce something scary into that, you are going to step up and be the responsible quasi-adult. That hasn’t changed. We, as a nation, have changed.”

“Just go over the bannister and hold onto this rope – you’ll be fine.”

Carpenter: “I love everything about [Curtis’ performance as Laurie]. She was so game about everything. I tell her to do something – ‘Okay, go over the banister and just hold onto this rope. You’ll be fine…’ – and she’d do it! And she was just great at it. And she could produce all the emotions that were necessary. She was just a joy to work with.

[Laurie] was a combination of things. She was a virginal character, but she was extremely strong and self-directed. It was mainly Jamie’s performance. I think that’s what took us there. Every time I make a movie, I learn things from the process of making it. It’s the casting decisions that you make that are so important. To cast the right person for the role is essential. What I learned [from Halloween] is that any time you cast Jamie Lee, you’re in good hands.”

“There’s 1978 Halloween and 40 years later – that’s it.”

Curtis: “What was so beautiful about the first movie is it was complete. You can’t kill the bogeyman. It was the bogeyman – [and] as a matter of fact, it was. What’s beautiful about the new movie is that it just literally slices away all of those other movies. They exist, you can watch them, you can love them or hate them. [But with the new movie] there’s 1978 Halloween and 40 years later. That’s it. That’s why this [new] movie got me. That’s why I said yes. Because it made all the sense in the world.”

(Photo by © Compass International Pictures, @ Universal Pictures)

“She was the freak. She’s the girl who survived. She’s the final girl.”

Curtis: “Now we get to really look at what happened to Laurie Strode 40 years later, to the day, with no attachment.

She lost everything. She lost herself, she lost her friends, nobody was helping her. Everybody was saying, ‘Oh, just get on with your life.’ Of course, that didn’t happen, so then the cascading trauma, like a tumbleweed, just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. She slams into people looking for contact, men, alcoholism, drugs. All of it with no support.

She was the freak. She’s the girl who survived. She’s the final girl, but she’s also something that you recoil from, in a way. Nobody went and embraced her. All of the innocence is gone. She has been self-reliant and the more calluses that she created on herself, the farther and farther people [moved away from her], and she had a child and they took the child away.

The woman we meet [in Halloween 2018] is alive by her own wits, has no friends. She is the freak of the town. And lives in a compound because she is preparing herself every day for the eventuality that Michael Myers will return.

And he does.”


Tag Cloud

diversity Peacock Mudbound cars FX President dceu Hulu Christmas GIFs Cannes Travel Channel Rock YouTube Premium Awards Tour PBS Writers Guild of America casting best Nat Geo Lionsgate RT History boxoffice anthology The Witch movies golden globes what to watch Netflix Christmas movies OWN video revenge Horror sequel Cosplay Countdown Creative Arts Emmys justice league Super Bowl Vudu chucky Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sci-Fi VH1 E3 supernatural renewed TV shows Black Mirror MCU 20th Century Fox CMT animated Heroines Lifetime Country OneApp green book Infographic Disney Plus FOX Baby Yoda Red Carpet reboot cartoon Summer tv talk werewolf Logo APB stoner Crunchyroll Trophy Talk Stephen King Box Office comic Year in Review screenings CNN X-Men Western singing competition The Arrangement south america 21st Century Fox Teen canceled parents festivals Arrowverse rotten movies we love FXX politics Marathons Tarantino DGA die hard reviews Fox News TV Best and Worst Tumblr Sony Pictures CW Seed aliens technology adaptation Shudder FX on Hulu Walt Disney Pictures scary movies LGBTQ Opinion First Reviews Disney streaming service Paramount ratings sitcom facebook Crackle DC streaming service Calendar Marvel Netflix christmas movies Apple TV+ YouTube Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Rocky Tomatazos DirecTV Family spy thriller Disney Channel sports anime police drama Election documentary SundanceTV hist Women's History Month name the review Marvel Television movie serial killer Lucasfilm batman National Geographic A24 Valentine's Day Comedy Central First Look series richard e. Grant Musicals criterion crime Mary Tyler Moore WGN blaxploitation quibi independent harry potter Comics on TV TBS Warner Bros. Emmys Dark Horse Comics cops indie Fantasy Trivia Premiere Dates Funimation thriller spanish language Epix romance American Society of Cinematographers Food Network Schedule sag awards ESPN Avengers Film Festival Disney Captain marvel Animation 71st Emmy Awards 007 free movies Holidays Spectrum Originals TCM BET Certified Fresh space IFC Films 2017 Ghostbusters Starz Toys Video Games Brie Larson docudrama Kids & Family binge spider-man CBS All Access cats spinoff child's play zombie TIFF HBO toy story period drama Chernobyl universal monsters doctor who based on movie The CW dc ghosts joker Television Academy vampires historical drama TCA Pet Sematary social media Reality crossover adventure biography Britbox Masterpiece cancelled television Comedy science fiction See It Skip It Winners Awards cancelled TV shows latino talk show Nickelodeon Oscars zombies 2018 Quiz mission: impossible composers dramedy Character Guide Musical 4/20 Freeform IFC kids award winner Pirates Trailer game of thrones The Walking Dead Rom-Com Mary poppins breaking bad robots MSNBC Fall TV Hear Us Out Columbia Pictures television NBC Amazon Esquire Endgame Adult Swim comiccon San Diego Comic-Con a nightmare on elm street Rocketman Universal Sundance asian-american 24 frames Photos elevated horror romantic comedy VICE dragons Thanksgiving natural history Apple TV Plus USA Network Anna Paquin children's TV teaser DC Comics Emmy Nominations Syfy mutant 2019 Black History Month finale Acorn TV SXSW RT21 DC Universe Tubi Watching Series TCA 2017 Lifetime Christmas movies Binge Guide medical drama Star Wars Discovery Channel stand-up comedy Film Pride Month AMC Apple Ovation strong female leads Polls and Games franchise cancelled ITV cooking YouTube Red Cartoon Network book Winter TV 2020 Reality Competition MTV New York Comic Con Sneak Peek directors concert psycho dogs Superheroe Classic Film theme song spain WarnerMedia TruTV foreign TV Land BBC Spring TV halloween Extras cancelled TV series Nominations PaleyFest Podcast Song of Ice and Fire Grammys GoT Music disaster Turner Classic Movies Pop versus Mystery Pixar TNT psychological thriller Academy Awards E! The Purge Set visit travel A&E game show crime drama Action Hallmark Interview Showtime Sundance Now Martial Arts TLC comics Amazon Prime CBS dark unscripted TCA Winter 2020 SDCC Pop TV Mindy Kaling Marvel Studios GLAAD Star Trek miniseries Superheroes political drama ABC BBC America cults screen actors guild Elton John hispanic History crime thriller LGBT streaming Holiday Mary Poppins Returns war Comic Book Amazon Prime Video Spike comedies Biopics canceled TV shows Disney+ Disney Plus TV renewals slashers mockumentary Drama ABC Family zero dark thirty Hallmark Christmas movies Paramount Network blockbuster Amazon Studios discovery 2015 Sundance TV HBO Max NYCC Turner Bravo USA transformers El Rey nature witnail Shondaland Ellie Kemper true crime jamie lee curtis YA 2016 45 cinemax