Most Known For: “Halloween,” “True Lies,” “A Fish Called Wanda”
Snubbed For: “A Fish Called Wanda,” “True Lies”
Acting, believe it or not, could be considered a family business. Jeff and Beau Bridges followed in the steps of their father Lloyd. Ben Stiller had legendary comedians Gerry Stiller and Anne Meara for his parents. That was certainly the case for Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Hollywood legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Though Curtis has had a very successful career in Hollywood, there is one thing that her parents accomplished that she has yet to – an Oscar nomination.
It didn’t take long for Curtis to break into the film industry. Just a year after her first credit on television she would star as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” Following in her mother’s footsteps – Leigh starred in “Psycho,” which was the film that earned her only Oscar nomination – Curtis would be a major part in a horror film that help define the genre and become known as a scream queen, starring in films like “The Fog,” “Prom Night” and “Halloween II.”
Curtis would prove that she didn’t just inherit her mother’s penchant for screaming, but a good bit of her father’s comedic abilities as well. “Trading Places” was a big change of pace for Curtis, but she showed that she had a knack for making people laugh right along with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.
Five years later she would star in a little film called “A Fish Called Wanda.” Curtis, like the entire cast made up of Kevin Kline, John Cleese and Michael Palin, is fantastic. However, she had the difficult task of being the straight women amongst her co-stars. While it is hard to outshine Kevin Kline or John Cleese, Curtis pulled her role off supremely well and wound up with a Golden Globe nomination. She lost out there and of course wound up being snubbed for an Oscar.
Six years after “Wanda” she found herself with another shot at the Oscar for James Cameron’s “True Lies.” The action-comedy spotlights surprising performances from both Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger but Curtis really gets the spotlight this time around as a bored housewife who discovers that her husband is actually a superspy. Another Golden Globe nomination would follow, this time resulting in a win, but still no Oscar.
Surprisingly, Curtis hasn’t had much success since “True Lies.” She reunited with her “Wanda” co-stars for 1997’s “Fierce Creatures” but they couldn’t recapture any of the magic. She’d earn another Golden Globe nomination for “Freak Friday,” but that was a stretch. A return to the “Halloween” franchise and uninspired comedies mark the rest of Curtis resume since the mid 90s. Her last role was a cameo as a lawyer in the “Veronica Mars” movie.
Curtis inability to snag an Oscar nomination probably is more indicative of the genre she’s excelled in rather than her quality of work. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a classic, but it is also a comedy and unless you go absolutely crazy like Kevin Kline did, comedy doesn’t often reap awards. “True Lies” was even more off the academy’s radar, an action-comedy. Even if you want to say she was worthy of some recognition for “Halloween,” horror is practically non-existent when it comes to end of the year awards. Curtis has given some great work, but as far as the Academy is concerned, in the wrong genres.
Maybe there’s a chance for a comeback somewhere down the road, but Curtis doesn’t seem to be worried about it. Her appearances on screen have become more and more spread out, though you can see her starting this weekend in “Spare Parts.” It doesn’t look like there will be two generations of Oscar nominees in the Curtis family, but Jamie Lee Curtis has certainly kept the legacy going with or without the hardware.