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Jamie Lee Curtis Discusses "Christmas with the Kranks"

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Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis in

Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis in "Christmas with the Kranks"

© Columbia Pictures
Revolution Studios' "Christmas with the Kranks" follows the misadventures of Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) Krank who, after swearing off celebrating Christmas, are suddenly forced to create the perfect holiday environment when their daughter returns from the Peace Corps. expecting to take part in all the usual Krank family traditions. In just a matter of hours, the Kranks have to try and change from their anti-Christmas mode to full-on holiday merriment.

Director/studio exec Joe Roth fell for the John Grisham novel, "Skipping Christmas" (changed to "Christmas with the Kranks" for the movie), before it was even published. Writer/director Chris Columbus eventually bought the rights to the book and asked Roth to direct the film, and for Roth it felt like a project he couldn't turn down. "I promised myself that if I could get the right cast in place, I would do it. At the top of my list to play the Kranks were Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. I sent them the script and they immediately committed. It seemed like fate."

In this interview, "Kranks" star Jamie Lee Curtis talks about taking on the family-friendly movie, pretentious films, and art versus entertainment:

INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE LEE CURTIS ('Nora'):

Has your comic sensibility moved more toward family-oriented fare?
Yeah, it has actually. First of all, I’m just not interested in sort of the ‘adult fare’ in movies right now. If I never see another person have sex on film I will be happy. It’s just – I’m done. I was done after “It’s a Wonderful Life” with them on the phone call, where Jimmy Stewart’s on the phone call to his old friend. Donna Reed’s coming up behind him and they’re just so palpably in love with each other and you see that. If I never see people slamming up each against each other, I will be fine.

To me, I am looking for something I can go with my family to. I am, there’s no question. I have a 9 year-old son and I want to go to the movies. I’d like to see “Sideways,” apparently that’s funny. But that would be an adult fare that I would like to go see with my husband. There may be people banging up against each other in that, I don’t know, but that wouldn’t be what I was going to see. I’d be going to see the comic storytelling. But I am looking for family fare, and there isn’t a lot. There isn’t a lot.

I work very little so now, as the mother of two, I have to keep it into family fare. And all the adult fare that I did was primarily before I had children and/or my sensibility may have been that it was somehow okay. I know there’s another actress who talked about it recently, about her kids responding to her adult work and that they were mortified. And she was like, “Well, you know, this is my work.” Well, you know what? I didn’t really think about it. I have an 18 year-old daughter and I would be mortified if she and her friends took in a movie of more adult fare. And I would really be mortified of my little boy. And yet, I’m going to have to live with that.

Even though a lot of your more adult films are quite good movies?
I understand. But would you want your mother topless in a movie? Would you want your friends… When you’re 20 years old, you just don’t think about that. And certainly that’s something that you choose to do. I try not to regret it like a big regret, but it’s certainly going to be something I’m going to have to navigate. And that’s going to be a big difficult moment for my boy.

Is it a much wider idea in which family trumps art?
But it’s not art. I don’t think it is art.

You don’t consider any of the work that you’ve done in movies as art?
No.

What do you think of it as?
Entertainment. It’s fun. I love art films. I am a fan of them. I’m someone who frequents them. I have a Laemmle hall pass which allows me to go to any movie. So I will be at a Laemmle Theatre, which is usually the more art related films. But none of the movies I’ve ever made are there. My husband’s movies are there. Certain people whose visual style is so profound… I was trying to think of the martial arts movie that just came out. “Hero.” Art meets narrative storytelling. But the movies that I do are not art, they’re entertainment.

So you don’t see yourself as an artist?
Not as a movie actor. You’re not going to hear myself being called “the artist formerly known as Jamie Lee Curtis.” No. As a writer, I do see a slightly more artistic vision in writing. But no, entertainment is entertainment. I’m not even going to call my books, necessarily, art. Although [illustrator] Laura Cornell’s art work is art. No, I call it entertainment. I’m not going to call horror movies ‘art’. They’re horror movies. They are entertainment. They are distractions.

Do you want to do art?
No. I’m a fan of art. I’m a buyer of art. I collect photographs. I have an amazing collection of photographs. Sally Mann is an artist. She’s not a commercially driven photographer. She’s an artist and has made that choice.

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