Jamie Lee Curtis Vs Sigourney Weaver

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Touchstone’s latest, You Again, sees Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver as old high-school rivals who resume hostilities when their families are thrown together by a plot device marriage. It’s a grrrrrom-com with a difference: more cat fights than you could squeeze into a suburban dustbin. The pair are two of our favourite actresses – c’mon, it’s Ellen Ripley and the Scream Queen – and both have career paths with uncanny similarities. But who’d come out on top in a real-life face-off? We’ve taken a forensic eyeball to their filmographies to put together a thespian face-off that is almost, but not quite, as contrived as the movie. Still, it’s not as one-sided as you might imagine…

Weaver: Working Girl (1988)
Curtis: Trading Places (1983)

Back when sub-prime was still a kind of steak sandwich, Sigourney Weaver’s fierce executive, Katharine Parker, bestrode the NYSE like some kind of power-dressing T-Rex. Not even Hans Gruber would have dared steal any bond she was the bearer of. Down the other end of the Street was Jamie Lee Curtis’ Ophelia, a hooker with a heart, smarts and a crafty eye for a quick buck. Ophelia is the clear winner here, because while Katharine has to suffer a broken leg, watch Melanie Griffiths emerge as a better businesswoman than her and deal with that empowering Carly Simon soundtrack, Ophelia helps foil a devious plot to corner the market in citrus fruit. And we all love OJ (no, not that one). Both actresses picked up awards nominations for their terrific performances - Weaver an Oscar, Curtis a Bafta - marrying comic beats with the heavier stuff demanded by these classic ‘80s satires, but Jamie Lee Curtis actually walked away with a little gold fella. That’s a win for Curtis!

Sigourney Weaver WINNER
Jamie Lee Curtis
Weaver: Aliens (1986)/Avatar (2009)
Curtis: True Lies (1994)

Okay, this one seems a bit unfair. How can anyone match up to the sheer muscle-topped iconicness of Ellen Ripley? They can’t, that’s how. And we haven’t thrown everyone’s favourite chain-smoking environmentalist, Grace Augustine, into the mix yet. Which means Helen Tasker is up against it from the get-go, even before you consider that slightly creepy lap dance, the Dennis Taylor glasses and the fact that somehow she hasn’t noticed that her husband is Arnie. Seriously lady, have you not seen Predator? Okay, so as the straight woman blissfully unaware of all the 007-pastiching mayhem unfolding around her, the guileless Helen is perfectly played by Curtis. The fact remains, however, that she doesn’t operate a single power loader, grapple with even the tiniest xenomorph and turns blue only when exasperated. She probably takes much better care of her cat, but we’re still giving this one to Sigourney. By miles.

Sigourney Weaver .gif) Jamie Lee Curtis
Weaver: Galaxy Quest (1999)
Curtis: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Tricky one, this. Both films are so funny we laughed until our heads fell off (thank you, Sellotape); both actress are on inspired form throughout, embracing the lunacy with scene-stealing gusto; and both are completely unafraid to look very silly indeed. They’re also blessed with great scripts. Jamie Lee Curtis’ acerbic Wanda (“To call you stupid would be an insult stupid people. I’ve known sheep that could outwit you”) matches Sigourney Weaver’s eager thesp (“I have one job on this lousy ship, it’s stupid but I’m going to do it!”) quip for quip, but she can’t compete with Weaver’s blissful spoofing of her own profession or the metamorphosis brought about by that blonde dye-job. By Grabthar’s Hammer, it’s glorious victory for Weaver. Never give up, never surrender!

Sigourney Weaver Jamie Lee Curtis
Weaver: The Year Of Living Dangerously (1982)
Curtis: The Tailor Of Panama (2001)

Two tumultuous, steamy settings – Sukarno’s Indonesia and post-Noriega Panama. Two visionary directors – Peter Weir and John Boorman. Two well-drawn characters that unwittingly end up stooges for ruggedly handsome men with hidden agendas. The parallels between Curtis and Weaver’s thrillers are unmistakeable. And, we’re gonna come clean here, a little arbitrary. Still, we have to pick between them and it’s another toughie. Both turn in performances bedrocked with quiet strength and the sour tang of betrayal. Both, though, are ultimately overshadowed by another actor: Pierce Brosnan’s conniving anti-Bond and Linda Hunt’s Oscar-winning photographer-cum-fixer. Despite that, Jamie Lee Curtis is terrific as the Ingrid Bergman of this “Casablanca without heroes”, the bruised wife of an MI5 informant who falls for her husband’s contact. Sigourney, meanwhile, a haughty British diplomat who falls for Mel Gibson’s callow reporter, takes the prize on the strength of her flawless English accent alone. At no point is she asked to say “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain,” but had the script required any ruminations on Southern European weather, she’d have delivered with ease. Notch another for Lady Weaver.

Sigourney Weaver Jamie Lee Curtis
Weaver: Alien (1979)
Curtis: Halloween (1978)

Here is it: The Scream Queen vs the no-one-can-hear-you-scream queen. The ultimate fear-off. The daddy of damsel-in-distress flicks. Both Ellen Ripley and Laurie Strode are edgy, traumatised women – unsurprising considering they’ve got an 8” xenomorph and a knife-wielding maniac trying to turn them into pastrami. The former is nothing like the ripped, gung-ho, stay-away-from-her bitching heroine she’d turn into during the tetralogy; the latter is a chaste teen who flaunted none of the sexual magnetism she’d later bring to Wanda. It’s worth remembering that Dan O’Bannon’s Alien script consciously riffed on the claustrophobic yucks and repressed sexuality of Carpenter’s classic horror, which makes Laurie Strode a kind of proto-Ripley. Jamie Lee Curtis may not be the original scream queen – that honour goes to her mum in Psycho – but she nails the terror with lung-busting aplomb. Curtis picks up bonus slasher points for popping up in Roger Spottiswoode’s brilliantly-named, if only mildly scary Terror Train. Which she then loses again for Halloween II. And then regains a bit for Halloween: H2O. Still, we’re giving this one to the Scream Queen. By a knife edge.

Sigourney Weaver .gif) WINNER
Jamie Lee Curtis

Weaver: Ghostbusters (1984)
Curtis: The Fog (1980)

Okay, so “Who you gonna call? Zombie fog busters!” doesn’t the same ring to it and, yes, tonally The Fog is a gajillion mist-shrouded miles from Harold Ramis’ spectral comedy smash, but it still delivers plenty of inter-dimensional weirdness. John Carpenter once again calls on Jamie Lee Curtis to play scared, as a boho hitchhiker who pitches up in Antonio Bay just in time for the greatest pirate get-together since Long John Silver’s retirement party. Good as she is, she can’t really compete with the wise-ass smarts of Dana Barrett, everyone’s favourite self (and Zuul)-possessed New Yorker. Weaver may not get much chance to flaunt her substantial comic skills as the foil to the parapsychologists, but, still, what a foil (“Do you want this body?”; “Is this a trick question?”). Her wit is dry enough to hang your washing on. Besides, what’s a job-lot of zombified corsairs when you’ve got most of Sumeria, New Yorker property prices and Peter Venkman to contend with? Game, set and match.

Sigourney Weaver .gif) Jamie Lee Curtis