Jamie Lee Curtis talks to PEOPLE about surviving addiction — and how she found stardom as a 19-year-old

By Helen Murphy and Johnny Dodd
October 25, 2018 09:00 AM
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Forty years after the original Halloween movie, Jamie Lee Curtis can’t believe how much has changed since she starred in the classic horror film.

Curtis, now 59, was just 19 when the first Halloween made her a movie star. She was paid only $8,000 for the low-budget thriller, made for a total of $325,000, and given $200 to find her wardrobe herself, she says.

“All the sudden, I was going to JC Penney and buying Laurie’s wardrobe with $200,” Curtis tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story, in which she also opens up about on her secret 10-year struggle with opioid addiction.

Instead of a set full of trailers, the cast worked out of one solitary Winnebago RV.

“There were cabinets in the Winnebago,” Curtis says. “Each girl got a drawer with her name on it to put her purse in. The makeup and the hair and the wardrobe were all in this one Winnebago that we all shared.”

Credit: Amanda Friedman

For more on Jamie Lee Curtis and Halloween, pick up a copy of this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands on Friday.

Curtis, who stars in the hit new Halloween sequel and served as an executive producer, recalls how low-budget the original production was.

“I made $8,000,” Curtis tells PEOPLE. “I made $2,000 a week, which at the time was a fortune.”

Credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock

The crew was small: “Twenty people, maybe 15,” says Curtis. “The oldest person was 30. Every other person was under 30. It was magic. A friend of somebody cooked the food each day and we all ate on the ground together.”

The movie went on to make $47 million at the box office.

Curtis went on to star in other horror movies, including 1980’s Prom Night and Terror Train, before making decades of hits, including A Fish Called Wanda and True Lies.

Curtis admits to PEOPLE that she is afraid to watch her own scary movies.

“I don’t understand why people like these movies,” she says. “I don’t like being scared! I’m the girl who watches movies under a blanket, and I cover my face.”

Jamie Lee Curtis at the premiere of Halloween.
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

After the newest Halloween smashed box office records on its opening weekend, making $78 million domestically, Curtis posted on Instagram to celebrate the film’s achievement.

“Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead,” the star wrote. “Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55. Second biggest horror movie opening ever. Second biggest October movie opening ever. Biggest Halloween opening ever. Couldn’t be prouder of ALL who made this creative experiment have such a thrilling result!”

Halloween is in theaters now.