It has been 20 years since Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, playing a mother and daughter forever at odds, magically swapped bodies in Disney’s “Freaky Friday,” the Mark Waters remake of the 1976 comedy. Before restoring balance, the two are forced to see the world through each other’s eyes as they get caught up in wedding prep and high school drama. This version left an impression on a generation of millennials who grew up on a steady diet of Lohan films, contemplating bleached hair streaks and chipped nail polish.
Now Curtis’s two children are happily married and Lohan is pregnant with her first, but the actors have remained in touch. On separate calls – Curtis from Los Angeles and Lohan from Dubai – they discussed the transformative experience of “Freaky Friday” and what it would mean to revisit their characters today. Which isn’t far-fetched: Disney confirmed that a sequel was in development, with Elyse Hollander writing the screenplay, and Curtis and Lohan in talks to return.
These are edited excerpts from our interviews.
Jamie, on the heels of your Oscar win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” what’s been memorable about revisiting this role?
CURTIS: I’ve been in genre movies for a long time, but the only time in my life where someone mentioned an Oscar was in the New York Times review of “Freaky Friday.” For a girl who was in horror movies and body comedies, it was shocking. Now, all these years later, the skinny gold person lives in my house.
LOHAN: When you get to work with such great actors, it really affects your performance. You immediately play better off each other.
Let’s go back to 2003. What did this movie mean at that point in your career?
LOHAN: As an 11-year-old, “The Parent Trap”  felt so big to me. I threw myself into everything: accents, green screens, playing two people. So I felt comfortable after that. “Freaky Friday” felt different because I was going through all of the phases of a 16-year-old [but playing a character who was a year younger]. This was the era of Avril Lavigne and punk, and I wanted to experience it. We did white stripes in my hair. I put [the colorist] Tracy Cunningham through hell because I took my nice red hair and just bleached it.
CURTIS: I was in the middle of a book tour when my agent called. An actress had been involved in the movie and chose not to do it; I was a replacement part. That was Thursday. I read the script on Friday, flew home on Saturday, had my hair dyed red Sunday, and was working Monday – with a 15-year-old and a 5-year-old at home, playing a 15-year-old. Had I had all the time in the world to prepare, I don’t think it would’ve been so good. I just had to be in my body. I was also newly sober and I was able to have a community within the movie-work world. That was a big deal for me.
When did you two first meet?
CURTIS: We met in an office, did the read-through, and it was game on in a big way. I had to let go of every control mechanism and just let it fly. Lindsay was as fluid as I was. If you look at “The Parent Trap,” she has a facility as an actor that is really impressive. It was a big job. It was a big production. And our relationship was very easy.
When Did ‘Wholesome’ Become a Gen Z Compliment?
LOHAN: Jamie showed up with such an infectious personality that set the tone for the whole day. She immediately took me under her wing. I was so nervous to do my first kiss on camera, so she talked to me in my trailer and made it funny so that I wouldn’t stress about it.
How did you step into your characters after the switch?
CURTIS: The first day, we shot the scene where we pull up to the school. I’m the teenager and I’m completely flummoxed because this hot guy [played by Chad Michael Murray] is walking over. My body freezes up. Mark came up to me the next day and said, “My editor is wondering if the performance is a little big.” I looked at him and said, “My instinct is all I have to go with. If you don’t like what I’m doing, fire me. I will regret dyeing my hair red, and other than that, it will be fine. But this is what I’m going to do.” Years later, I was at the Aero Theater [in Santa Monica] and the editor, who was sitting in front of us, said, “By the way, I was so wrong.”
LOHAN: One big thing was slowing down my speech. I would tell Jamie, “Remind me if I’m going too fast.” And she would say, “Should I do this more slang?” We were feeling it on a daily basis.
What do you remember about working together?
CURTIS: My strongest memory is the scene where the two of us are in the car eating French fries. Now, if I get a text out of the blue, “Hey, Jamie, it’s Linds,” I say, “Prove it. What was the song we were trying to learn the rap to during ‘Freaky Friday’?” If she answers Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You,” then I know it’s Lindsay Lohan.
LOHAN: Now that you’ve told everyone, we can’t do that anymore. I remember we wanted fresh French fries, and she kept taking all of the good ones.
CURTIS: We were isolated for three hours together, just sitting in a car playing music.
LOHAN: I think if you put the song on, I would know it right away.
Jamie, you’re a mother. Lindsay, you’re about to be one. What did this movie teach you about parenting?
LOHAN: To have more patience. You want to let them explore and live the way they need to live – with boundaries. I’m not there. I’m getting there. In a year, come back to me and ask me what it’s like. And then in 16 years.
CURTIS: Suspend the judgment, open the ear, listen more. Also, as a parent, we’re sizing up all the time: shoes, clothes, foods. It’s all future thought. My lesson from “Freaky Friday” was to be where your feet are.
This movie has endured over the last two decades. How do you feel about a sequel?
CURTIS: As I went around the world with “Halloween Ends,” people wanted to know if there was going to be another “Freaky Friday.” Something really touched a chord. When I came back, I called my friends at Disney and said, “It feels like there’s a movie to be made.”
LOHAN: Jamie and I are both open to that, so we’re leaving it in the hands that be. We would only make something that people would absolutely adore.
Leave A Comment