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When it comes to scary movies, scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is the ultimate Final Girl. Curtis perfectly plays the main hero of the Halloween horror franchise, and it is impossible to imagine another actor in the role. But before she became a Hollywood icon, Curtis had a rocky start to her career when she was fired from a project. Here’s the scoop.

 Jamie Lee Curtis with Prop Michael Meyers
Jamie Lee Curtis with Prop Michael Meyers | Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images

Before superstardom, Jamie Lee Curtis was fired from a small-screen reboot

In an in-depth interview, Curtis opened up to Vanity Fair about her decades-long career in show business. She told the entertainment brand that before Halloween, she suspected that her time in the limelight — as brief as it had been — had flickered out.

“I was young, I had done a TV series that I had been fired from, and thought for sure my career, which was just brand new, was now gonna be over,” said Curtis. For the record, that television show was Operation Petticoat. The sitcom was based on the 1959 film of the same name, which starred Curtis’ father, Tony Curtis. And the narrative revolved around a crew aboard a U.S. submarine. 

When Curtis’ sitcom days screeched to a halt, the trajectory of her career shifted. ”Had I not been fired from Operation Petticoat, I would not have been available to audition for Halloween,” she reflected. “And Operation Petticoat was canceled, I think, two weeks after its second season. And obviously, Halloween has given me my entire creative life.”

Curtis called the ‘Halloween’ experience ‘freeing and fun’

Master of horror John Carpenter led a remarkably small cast and crew to bring Halloween to life in 1978. “So, it was the methodology of the shooting,” Curtis explained to Vanity Fair. “It was a small group of guerilla filmmakers, two trucks, and a Winnebago that had every department. We just drove around the city and made this movie.”

The film tells the story of Michael Meyers, a six-year-old boy who murders his older sister on Halloween. As a result, the child is institutionalized until he escapes custody exactly fifteen years later. Michael returns to his hometown, dons a haunting white mask, and murders a slew of teens.

“There was something incredibly freeing and fun being with really basically young people and everyone kind of working together to make this movie,” beamed Curtis. “There was nothing fancy about it on any level. I’ve certainly missed that and tried to find that again in my later life. It’s been hard to find.”

‘Halloween’ hero Laurie Strode was the star’s breakout role

Jamie Lee Curtis in 'Halloween'
Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Halloween’ | Compass International Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

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Curtis recalled what it was like landing a key part in the movie, saying, “I was a young actress and there were three parts for a girl. Obviously the smart-aleck, the young virgin, and the cheerleader. I thought I would have been like a really good smart-aleck, and I was a cheerleader. I auditioned, I think, three of four times for Laurie I remember getting it.”

Curtis didn’t just earn the role of Halloween’s main protagonist, Laurie Strode — she owned it. In the film, the young woman bravely fends off Michael and ultimately escapes with her life. 

Beyond Halloween, Curtis has racked up credits in virtually every genre of entertainment. And to the delight of horror buffs, she also reprised her role as Laurie in subsequent Halloween films over the course of four decades. Curtis remains one of the most celebrated horror icons in cinematic history.

Follow Erika Delgado on Twitter.