Horror history is about to be made. It’s a rainy day in early September on the New Orleans set of Fox’s Scream Queens and Jamie Lee Curtis is about to do something she’s never done before on screen. The actress is recreating the iconic Psycho shower scene that featured her mother, Janet Leigh. It’s something she’s been asked to do before but never felt the need to do.
For Queens, the creators — Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan — had crafted a scene in which the Red Devil surprises her character, Cathy Munsch, in her apartment. Falchuk began contemplating having Munsch in the shower as an homage to Curtis’ mother. “I thought, ‘Can I do this? Do I need to ask her?’ I didn’t want to offend her but at the same time this would be so awesome,” remembers Falchuk. “So then I wrote it and then got a text from her very quickly after she read the script. Her text was, ‘We need to do this shot-for-shot.’ Then, typical Jamie Lee, she started sending me all the websites and Tumblrs that have each shot laid out and storyboarded.”
Before filming, Curtis stands at the monitors watching footage of the classic moment from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film. “Hello, Janey,” she says when Leigh, who passed away in 2004, pops up on the screen. Curtis holds in her hand a greeting card that features a still of her mother screaming from the film. Loving the image, she called the greeting card company and bought the entire stock. She places the card at video village as a kind of tribute and guide. Watching footage of the original shower scene, she studies to make sure the choreography of her actions matches that of Leigh’s character, Marion Crane. Curtis makes sure she uses the correct hands at the correct time when begins to use the soap. She watches her eyes as Leigh shuts the bathroom door. “She’s clearly looking for a lock,” she says. It’s a moment that’s by turns surreal, moving, and exhilarating — and the ultimate homage to one of the most famous scream queens of all. “It’s a big deal and I don’t take it lightly,” says Falchuk. “That she went for it like that was very moving for me.” Adds Curtis, “This is the perfect way to honor my mom.”
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