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'Scream' stars say production was almost stopped on 1996 hit after filming just 1 scene

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
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Nearly 25 years after its release, Scream is widely credited with breathing life back into the slasher genre after tired Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th sequels met slow deaths at the box office as the '80s turned to '90s.

But from the sounds of it, few of the actors involved in the 1996 self-aware horror hit had very high expectations for the film.

“We had hopes, we had dreams, we had aspirations,” Jamie Kennedy tells Yahoo Entertainment during a recent MVPs of Horror interview promoting the film’s new 4K Ultra HD release (watch above). “We knew it was good, but I didn’t know if people would see it or not.”

“I have a very distinct memory of lying in the back of a van on the way to work, and everyone sort of talking, as actors do, about what you’re doing next,” adds Matthew Lillard. “And I had just done a pilot for NBC. And I’m like, ‘This stupid horror movie’s never doing anything, and I’m going off to do this pilot for NBC. And it’s gonna be a huge hit. It’s by the people who did Thirtysomething.’ My future was television. And cut to, that show didn’t get picked up [to air], and this movie ends up becoming something we’re talking about 25 years later.”

SCREAM, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy, Matthew Lillard, 1996, (c)Dimension Films/courtesy Everett Collection
Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard in Scream. (Photo: Dimension Films/courtesy Everett Collection)

The low expectations came despite a red-hot script from Kevin Williamson that satirized the genre while proving genuinely terror-filled, the direction of Nightmare maestro Wes Craven and a young ensemble that also included Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan and Drew Barrymore in its infamous opening scene.

“You have to remember, Scream was made by a director that was not hot at the time starring two women that were on television,” says Lillard, referencing Campbell and Cox’s roles on Party of Five and Friends, respectively. “The idea that this movie was going to be something other than just another horror movie was crazy. Nobody expected it, from Kevin on down.”

That might be why the film was on a short lease through its few days of production in and around Santa Rosa in Northern California.

“They had shot the beginning stuff with Drew, and Miramax was going to pull the plug on continuing to shoot the film,” Ulrich recalls. “They didn’t get it. They weren’t into it. And Wes [and producers] Marianne Maddalena and Cathy Konrad spent a couple days cutting together the beginning of it and rushed it to Miramax so they could see what they were doing with it. And they saw that [opening scene] and were all back onboard, thank God.”

Now the film follows them everywhere they go.

“I was at a Coffee Bean the other day, and some dude pulled out [the film’s famous Ghostface mask],” Kennedy shares. “There’s no way he would’ve known I was gonna be there.”

Watch our full MVPs of Horror interview with Lillard, Ulrich and Kennedy above.

Scream is now available on 4K Ultra HD.

— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Valerie Volpacchio