Twenty-five years ago, Scream made a cluster of up-and-coming young actors into movie stars. And the late director Wes Craven had a heavy hand in shaping their careers. In a new set of interviews, the horror movie actors weigh in on how he influenced them — and one of them claims he made some big predictions about his future as an actor.
Wes Craven is considered a master of the horror movie genre
Before his death from a brain tumor in 2015, Wes Craven directed several highly influential horror films. Firstly, his directorial debut, The Last House on the Left in 1972 was highly controversial. However, it put Wes Craven on the map.
Secondly, The Hills Have Eyes in 1977 proved that Craven had a penchant for terrifying violence. Craven subsequently made Deadly Blessing (1981) and Swamp Thing (1982) back to back.
After a two-year hiatus, Wes Craven made a film so iconic that it would spawn an enduring character and a powerful franchise. Nightmare on Elm Street became one of the most iconic horror movies of the 1980s, and Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund) became a horror mainstay.
The movie elevated Craven as a director to a position that he could now spoof his own genre. And that he did. 1996’s Scream is a hilariously bloody sendup of the entire horror movie genre. It’s iconic in that it encourages audiences to look a bit harder at their favorite horror movies and laugh at their formulaic plots.
It was a brilliant approach. The star-packed movie is genuinely scary. Moreover, it’s in a class by itself and remains an entirely fresh and unique take on horror movies. Finally, it spawned a franchise that lives to this day.
Matthew Lillard says he has great memories of ‘Scream’ and Wes Craven
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo) figured prominently in Scream’s cat. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter in October of 2021 that his best memories of Wes Craven include a celebration dinner.
“I have great memories of him,” Lillard told THR. “These memories of celebrating the first $100 million [Scream made] and having dinner at his house, being at his knee hearing these iconic stories about Serpent and the Rainbow. Walking around his incredible house in the Hollywood Hills and being blown away that I was invited.”
More pointedly, Lillard, who plays Stu, recalls a particularly encouraging moment with Craven.
“For me, personally, I had a moment with him where he said to me, ‘You’re going to win an Academy Award someday,’” Lillard continued. “So as my career ebbs and flows and I have these moments of thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll never work again,’ I have this incredible touchstone of somebody I respected and revered telling me I was special. It’s those little moments that get you through the really crappy parts of this industry.”
‘Scream’ had a memorable cast
Lillard isn’t the only Scream actor who is grateful for Craven’s influence. “He took a chance on me,” said Jamie Kennedy, who plays Randy. “He gave me my career.”
Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, and Rose McGowan all appeared in the 1996 horror movie, as well.
Campbell, who played ‘final girl’ Sidney Prescott, said Craven’s impact is unforgettable. “I know from the thousands of people I’ve met who remind me of the impact he had on them, how he entertained them for decades, that he’ll not be forgotten easily,” she told THR. “I certainly never will.”
Scream is on the cusp of a new horizon. The fifth Scream movie (titled simply Scream in the same vein as the 2018 Halloween) hits theaters on January 14, 2022.
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