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How Jamie Lee Curtis Sort of Saved a Guy’s Life at Comic-Con

Kyle Buchanan

The San Diego Comic-Con presentation for the new Halloween was surprisingly emotional tonight, owing to its star’s passionate speech and an audience member’s surprising revelation.

Jamie Lee Curtis, who returns to the role of Laurie Strode for this new David Gordon Green-directed take on the venerable horror franchise — one that throws out all the other sequels and positions itself as a direct follow-up to the first film — said she found herself most engaged by the notion of a woman confronting her random attack many decades later.

“There comes a point where you say, I am not my trauma, the narrative of my life is that I am not a victim,” Curtis said. “This is a woman who has been waiting 40 years to say … I’m going to take back my narrative and you don’t own me anymore. And that, weirdly enough, seems to be a bit of a thing in the world today.”

Curtis brought up this week’s ESPYs ceremony, where more than 100 survivors of abuse from former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar took the stage together. “There are kids in the audience wearing Mario and Luigi hats so I’m not saying what I really wanna say,” Curtis noted from the dais, only referring to Nassar as an “M.F.” Still, she was inspired by the gymnasts’ resilience. “Those women stood there and said, ‘You do not control our narrative anymore.’ ”

That would have been a high note for the panel, but then a crying audience member in a Haddonfield High T-shirt walked up to the mic. “You’re the only reason I came to Comic-Con this year,” the middle-aged man told Curtis, crediting the film Halloween with saving his life.

Was this a case of creative inspiration helping someone along during a low point? No, it was a literal case of life-saving, as the man went on to recount a mysterious night when his phone wires were cut, he found himself alone in his house with an intruder, and he wondered to himself, “What would Jamie Lee Curtis do?”

That’s when he grabbed some nearby knitting needles and ran out of the house. “I ran down to the neighbors, and started screaming like you did in the movie,” he told Curtis. “They said, ‘What’s in your hand?’ I said, ‘They’re just knitting needles!’ And they said, ‘Well, not with those knitting needles are we gonna let you into our house!’ ”

“To make a long story short,” he continued, perhaps breezing over his story’s climax, “I’m here today because of the way you portrayed Laurie Strode. I’m a victor today instead of a victim, just like those people you were talking about.”

Curtis went down into the audience to have a private conversation with the man, and then they took a selfie together. “Look, sometimes selfies heal, too,” moderator Yvette Nicole Brown said. “Know that.” When Curtis returned to the stage, she was a bit shaken.

“The gentleman that spoke earlier? That kind of emotion is real,” she said. “These are movies and we love to come to a movie and get scared, it’s exciting … but it all has to be based in a reality and something you can believe in.”

Curtis continued: “Laurie Strode is the greatest part I’ll ever get to play. The idea that when I’m kissing 60 years old, that when I was 19 years old on the streets of Los Angeles we made this movie … and now 40 years later we’re at Comic-Con announcing a new movie in 2018, it is mind-blowing, and I am privileged.”

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