Neve Campbell is still the reigning queen of “Scream”
If you hit adulthood in the late ’90s, there’s a good chance Neve Campbell’s signature chestnut brown and piercing, worried gaze defined your formative cinematic experiences. Maybe you saw her play a shy burn victim turned witch in the cult classic. The job. Or maybe you watched, in utter awe, as she kissed Denise Richards while portraying a manipulative outcast in Wild things. And if these two performances somehow eluded you, there’s no way you’ll does not have see her star as Sidney Prescott, the latest ultimate daughter of Wes Craven’s iconic slasher, Scream, and its sequel, Scream 2. Interestingly, these four films came out in the span of two years, between 1996 and 1998, solidifying Campbell as one of the most important and talked about stars of the decade.
When Campbell, born in Canada, was cast as Sidney Prescott, a strong and stable high school student just trying to survive the wrath of a deadly Ghostface killer, she was only 22, and although this was her first lead role, she could never have known that she would continue to live with the character for over 25 years, reprising her in four sequels. Scream, the fifth movie and the first iteration since Craven’s death in 2015, premieres January 14. She also didn’t know she was about to be catapulted to such a high level of fame that within a year she would break box office records, animated. Saturday Night Live, and appear on the cover of Rolling stone.
“This peak of fame was not something a 22-year-old really knows how to handle,” she said in a Zoom conversation, conducted at the end of 2021 in the comfort of her children’s room, where there are beds bunk are sitting behind her. (Campbell is the mother of sons Caspian, 9, and Raynor, 3, with partner JJ Feild.) “I was lucky to work so much that I didn’t get lost. I see a lot of celebrities when they’re at this height falling down the rabbit hole, whether it’s addictions or breakdowns. Instead of partying, Campbell said during this time that she worked 15 or 16 hours a day for ten months a year filming. Part of five, the famous Fox television series that launched his career and spent his “spare time” appearing in films.
“That will tell you how tired I was,” she begins. “I was in a car with my manager and my publicist and my manager said, ‘Tell him, tell him,’ to my publicist. And he said, ‘I’m really excited to tell you: I got you had Rolling stone. ‘ And I went, ‘What? I am so tired. I don’t want to do another photoshoot. ‘ I had no idea how important it was to be on the cover of Rolling stone. “
Spoiler alert: She did the filming – obviously – and while the cover line read “Neve Campbell: Glowing Party Girl”, Campbell’s accompanying profile and remembrance of his youth are fundamentally the opposite. To clarify, before you land Part of five, Campbell was born and raised in Guelph, Canada, before training as a ballerina at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto. “I was just dancing, dancing, dancing – I was very disciplined and it was a bit insular,” she says. She didn’t pay much attention to pop culture and was definitely not a fan of horror films. (The Changeling scared her too much.)
But the landing Scream everything changes. Campbell was wowed by the hilarious meta-script written by Kevin Williamson (who went on to create the beloved teen drama Dawson Creek), and the originality of the scares, a hallmark of Craven. Looking back, it’s no surprise that the 1996 film was a mega-hit, becoming the highest-grossing slasher film in the world until 2018. All of that success, however, meant that Campbell continued to receive offers to play. in even scarier films. “I was never going to make another horror movie because I already did the best,” she says. “Why should I downgrade?” “
It’s a good question. So she left Hollywood for a while to recalibrate. scream 3 came out in 2000 and three years later Campbell moved to England for seven years, where she dove into the theater community. “I learned a lot about myself and the craft,” she says. “I immersed myself in a different way which is really hard to do in America.” When she started looking for on-screen roles again, this time the offerings were different and came in the form of a premium TV: she made a memorable appearance on Mad Men and landed a recurring role on Card castle. “I was suddenly out of this young ingenuous story and I was considered more of an adult woman. The rules are more interesting with these roles.
Roll or die Scream fans will likely agree with Campbell’s assessment. Watch Sidney go from being a shy high school student with so Many trouble boys in a knife-wielding badass (and gun) mentoring a younger generation of Woodsboro teens trying not to die has been a fascinating and moving journey. In the place of correct Fighting for her life when Ghostface returns, she shares life and death wisdom, institutional knowledge, and escape routes that might actually work. (To verify Scream 4, which premiered in 2011 and was the first film in the franchise to show Sidney as part of the older generation, to see his experienced mind at work.) Although Campbell couldn’t share much about the new one. ScreamOf the plot, she reveals that Sidney is now a mother, which brings out a whole new level of survival. “As a mom, the thought of anything threatening your children will be terrible for her.”
But Campbell needed a little conviction to come back and reprise his role, especially without Craven in charge. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, directors behind yet another cheeky slasher movie Ready or Not, directs the movie and ultimately conquered her with a letter explaining how much Scream had an impact on their work and how they hoped to process his character and the story.
Still, it took lengthy negotiations for Campbell to officially sign. “It was only in recent years that I felt confident to ask [for more money] because I was told, ‘Oh, you can’t ask,’ ”she said. “I wonder if I had been a man working on the fifth film in this franchise, if that would have been the same conversation in my negotiation. We finally got there, but I feel like it would have been different if I had been a man. I do it honestly.
To reprise the role of Sidney is to step back into the shoes of a woman who made a huge impact on viewers. “It’s always surprising to me to have people come in and say, ‘Sidney Prescott has changed my life. She gave me more self-confidence. She made me less of a victim. She got me into action, ”says Campbell. “You don’t expect that when you make a movie like this, especially in this genre.”
Sidney might not have this impact on people without Campbell’s portrayal of vulnerability, intelligence and a good dose of humor. The character might not always make the right moves, but she’s fearless and desperate to survive no matter what, even if it means killing a few baddies along the way. This sweet confidence is the reason why when you sit down to watch a Scream movie, knowing that half of the characters will be sliced and diced by the time the credits roll, you are hoping that maybe, just maybe, Sidney Prescott will make it out alive.