Jamie Lee Curtis says #MeToo movement 'would have really upset' late mother Janet Leigh

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read
Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis attend the premiere of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later on July 27, 1998, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis attend the premiere of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later on July 27, 1998, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Jamie Lee Curtis, who stars in the new Halloween Kills, doesn't think her actress mother, the late Janet Leigh — most famous for the infamous shower scene in the classic film Psycho — would have understood the #MeToo movement happening in Hollywood today.

"I don't think Janet would have ever acknowledged if there was any bad behavior," Curtis told her fellow actress and friend Melanie Griffith in a conversation published Friday in Interview Magazine. "She was, it's a bad term, but kind of Pollyannaish about the industry. I think the Me Too movement would have really upset her. It's not fair to unpack that, because she's dead and I'm going to put words in her mouth, but knowing her, I think she would not say that he misbehaved in any way."

Melanie Griffith and Jamie Lee Curtis pose together at a 2021 fundraiser for a cause they both support, Children's Hospital Los Angeles. (Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic via Getty Images)
Melanie Griffith and Jamie Lee Curtis pose together at a 2021 fundraiser for a cause they both support, Children's Hospital Los Angeles. (Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Curtis referred to Alfred Hitchcock, the Hollywood icon who also directed Griffith's mother, Tippi Hedren, in two of his frightening movies, The Birds, in 1963, and Marnie the following year. Hitchcock, who died in 1980, infamously obsessed over his leading lady in those films. 

Hedren has said that Hitchcock made good on a promise to hurt her career if she refused his sexual advances. "When he told me that he would ruin me, I just told him do what he had to do," Hedren told Variety in December 2017. "I went out of the door and slammed it so hard that I looked back to see if it was still on its hinges."

Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock attend the premiere of The Birds on May 10, 1965, at the Cannes Film Festival in France. (Photo: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock attend the premiere of The Birds on May 10, 1965, at the Cannes Film Festival in France. (Photo: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

His punishment was to keep Hedren under contract but not offer her any desirable roles. After she made her last film with him, she went without an acting gig for three years and, even then, the parts were not what they had been. 

"You know, she was of the #MeToo movement, and it was not accepted at that time," Griffith said of her mom, who went on to write about her experiences with Hitchcock and to appear in The Bold and the Beautiful, Dream On, I Heart Huckabees and many other shows and movies. "She was shunned and he made sure that she was shunned."

However, Curtis said her mother was just appreciative of her time with the acclaimed director.

"I don't think Janet would ever have acknowledged anything, because from her standpoint, she was just grateful," Curtis said. "That was very much her take. I think she would have looked at it as, 'That was just the way it was.'" Still, she said later, "I'm not saying my mom wouldn't have stood up to him, but she was to her dying day nothing but grateful to Hitchcock and Alma [Reville, Hitchcock's wife]."

Alfred Hitchcock directs actress Janet Leigh in Psycho. (Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Alfred Hitchcock directs actress Janet Leigh in Psycho. (Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Griffith said that in addition to the alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault that Hedren has revealed in the past, her time as a horror muse was painful. Hedren wrote in her 2013 memoir, Tippi: A Memoir, that, for one thing, crew members threw live birds at her during filming.

"Well, I know mom really did have a hard time on The Birds. Physically, it was very difficult," Griffith said. "Especially the end with the birds being thrown at her and all of that, she collapsed after and went to the hospital. It was a very sad time. Then with Marnie, he got very psychologically crazy with her and she couldn't take it. I mean good for her, she stood up, but it really affected her career."

Griffith and Curtis didn't think their mothers had been friends and said that while both grew up in the Los Angeles area, they met while making a TV movie. They appeared together in the Private Benjamin-like She's in the Army Now in 1981.

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