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Jamie Lee Curtis: It hurts to laugh after A Fish Called Wanda

Published 06/08/2015

Jamie Lee Curtis received her big break in 1978 in horror film Halloween (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jamie Lee Curtis received her big break in 1978 in horror film Halloween (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Jamie Lee Curtis has revealed she ruined so many takes by laughing in classic comedy A Fish Called Wanda that she now causes herself pain to keep a straight face in funny scenes.

Curtis starred opposite John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin in the caper about armed robbers who attempt to double-cross each other.

The actress, who is the daughter of old Hollywood stars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, revealed numerous versions of scenes with Kline were unusable because she was laughing too hard at his improvisation.

"Kevin Kline, to this day, doesn't speak to me because I ruined so many takes of Fish Called Wanda so I have developed a trick which I will reveal to you today," she told the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, California.

"I have a pin or a toothpick between my fingers and I push really hard between my fingers so I won't laugh. You will see my hands out of the frame pushing so hard."

Curtis, 56, received her big break in 1978 in horror film Halloween, which was written and directed by John Carpenter, but she disclosed she is too terrified to ever watch a scary film.

"Without the horror film industry I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be enjoying my life. I owe everything I have to John Carpenter who saw something in me in 1978. I have great respect for horror films, even though I don't personally love them.

"I scare very easily and there is nothing about being scared that I like. It is not something I will pay money for and it is not something that people around me are allowed to do."

She added that she is so nervous of being frightened that a ban on surprise parties was included in her wedding vows.

However, she returns to the horror genre with a new slasher comedy TV show called Scream Queens.

Curtis plays the dean of a university where a killer is murdering sorority girls in the satirical show, which stars Emma Roberts as the queen bee, alongside Glee star Lea Michele, singer Ariana Grande and Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin.

Asked about some of the cutting dialogue on Scream Queens, Curtis said: "It is a social satire and we say what people think.

"We are all trying to look and behave in a certain way and this show flays the imagined behaviour of human beings and shows what we really are - inherently dark, unhappy, frustrated human beings who are trying to hold it together."

The show is co-created by Ryan Murphy, who is responsible for hits including Glee and American Horror Story, and he said he was determined to bring Curtis on board.

"Jamie is the original scream queen and she brings such a great sense of largesse and strength and feminism," he told the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Scream Queens will premiere in America in September but does not yet have a UK air date.

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