It was a bittersweet occasion that brought three of the castmates of Scream together on stage at Fan Expo this Friday. On the one hand stars Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich and the voice of Ghost Face Roger L. Jackson, came together to mark almost 40 years since the release of the first Scream movie, but celebration was shaded somewhat by the sudden passing of the franchise’s director Wes Craven just last weekend.
Campbell was the first to speak about Craven’s death, and she seemed a bit shaken by it. Still, she expressed a lot of love for her scary movie director. “He was just a phenomenal, phenomenal man,” she remembered. “He always liked to be working. He loved his job, and his energy and his passion got passed down to his crew. I think a director sets a tone for a shoot whether it’s a positive experience or a negative experience.”
“I worked with him on a different film several years after Scream,” added Ulrich. “He was still vibrant in his creative energy and he was a brilliant, smart man. It was never about results, it was about connection and he will definitely be missed.”
Aside from the mention of Craven’s passing, the mood was mostly light and fun. Much of the conversation had to do with the legacy of Scream, a breakthrough hit in 1996 that reinvigorated with horror genre by poking a bit of fun at itself without losing any of the blood or tension of your typically slasher movie. At the time though, the cast didn’t know just how big the film would be.
“I don’t know if you ever know,” if a film will be that big, said Campbell. “You can think that something is good, and that it will appeal, but you can never be sure. We were aware that it was slightly more intelligent.”
“I didn’t think about the future of it because we were trying to do the best we could do, and live up to the story,” said Ulrich. “My kids are 14 now and they love it, so to see it span generations and transcend, it’s great.”
Jackson, who appropriately made his entrance voice first, recalled his audition to be the now iconic voice for the series’ killer. “The audition was the opening scene of the first film, and I read the script, which was brilliant, and it’s all right there,” Jackson recalled. “I did what you do as an actor, I studied the scene and give it what it needs. He has to be interesting enough to keep [Drew Barrymore‘s character Casey Becker] interested and keep her on the phone, keep her playing with him.”
In one surprising revelation, the crowd learned that Campbell and Ulrich had only come face-to-face with Jackson for the first time very recently. “We met three weeks ago,” Campbell said, and Ulrich confirmed that he had also met Jackson just three weeks earlier. “It was very important to Wes that we not meet Roger,” Campbell said. “He thought that he wouldn’t have the fear or the apprehension if we met Roger, and he was right.”
Jackson spent most of his time working on Scream sequestered away from the cast from the very first night of shooting. “I was off to the side on the first night,” Jackson remembered “I was actually outside the window under a small canopy because it was raining, and then on the second night they set up a room in the garage and set up a monitor with a camera feed so that I could see them, but they couldn’t see me.”
Jackson wasn’t the only one to recall the challenges of the job. Campbell was asked about comparisons between her and Sidney. “It felt like I had a really damaged friend,” she said. “I think I knew the character, and I think we were true to where the character would be at different points in her life, and Wes kept me on track.”
Ulrich had an unusual method of getting into the head of his character Billy Loomis, Sidney’s boyfriend, and, as it turned out, one of the two killers revealed at the end of Scream. “It was definitely a challenging part in the beginning because I wanted it to be too obvious that it was him,” he explained. “In the hotel we stayed in I had two rooms and they were connected, and I made one of them Billy’s room with posters and black lights and that’s were I would go before I would go to set and live in that mind-set for a bit.”
On the lighter side, a fan in a Scream costume asked Campbell, Ulrich and Jackson what their favourite scary movie was, Jackson did some impressions and read Scream dialogue in the voice of Mojo Jojo from the Powerpuff Girls, and Campbell and Ulrich reflected on the other cult movie they did together that’s now 20 years old, The Craft. “I went to the Hollywood Cemetery where they show movies in the summer at night, and they showed The Craft and their were proper adults now wearing the outfits and doing spells,” said Campbell.
Inevitably, it was asked if Scream might go on to a part five. Campbell did say that it was her loyalty to Craven that kept her coming back, but at this point it’s too soon to think about another go with Scream, and Campbell is under the impression that creative juices are being concentrated on the MTV series right now. The franchise will go on in some form, and Jackson says there’s only one reason for that. “If Scream is a legend and Ghost Face is iconic it’s because of you, not us.”