Actress recalls emotional reunion with franchise producer Malek Akkad
Jamie Lee Curtis has been open about the fact that returning to the role of Laurie Strode in the just-released horror sequel Halloween was a mentally and physically draining experience. “I knew [Laurie] would be fierce, I knew she’d be galvanized, I knew I’d be tired, I knew I would work hard,” the actress told EW earlier this year. “I did not know that it would move me so deeply, the whole experience of the movie. It took me a good month [to recover].”
One of the shoot’s most emotional days was the very first, when Curtis reunited with Malek Akkad, who produced the new film with Blumhouse founder Jason Blum and Miramax CEO Bill Block. Akkad’s producer father, Moustapha, had been instrumental in putting together John Carpenter‘s original Halloween and had helped oversee the franchise up to 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection, the fourth Halloween film to feature Curtis after Carpenter’s 1978 film, 1981’s Halloween II, and 1998’s Halloween: H20.
As a child, Malek Akkad visited the set of the 1978 film and met Carpenter, Curtis, and Nick Castle, who played the masked killer Michael Myers in the first film. “I had visited set when I was 7-years-old, once or twice,” he says. “These people were giants to me.” Malek worked as a production assistant on 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and was an associate producer on Halloween: H20 and co-producer on Halloween: Resurrection, becoming close with Curtis along the way.
In 2005, Moustapha Akkad and his daughter, Rima, were in the lobby of a hotel in the Jordanian capital of Amman when a bomb exploded, part of an Al-Qaeda terrorist attack. Rima was killed immediately, while Moustapha died from his injuries two days later.
Following this tragedy, Malek effectively took over his father’s role shepherding the Halloween franchise and was a producer on director Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake Halloween and the same filmmaker’s 2009 sequel, Halloween II.
While Zombie’s films helped keep the franchise in the public consciousness, neither featured Curtis. The new Halloween would be the first time the actress and Akkad had worked together since H20 two decades previously and the first time since the death of Moustapha Akkad. The result was a very emotional on-set reunion.
“The first day I was on set I walked up [for] a scene that’s not in the movie, and I walked in, and the first person I saw was Malek Akkad, ,” says Curtis. “[He] is the son of Moustapha Akkad, who was the producer of Halloween, and he was killed in a bombing with his daughter, Rima. Malek lost [his] father and sister, horribly. Real horror. Real life, horrific trauma. So for me to see Malek, who I knew as a child, standing on the set of Halloween 40 years later with Laurie returning — needless to say, I started crying the day I arrived, I didn’t stop crying until the day I left.”