Neve Campbell on Scream 4 | Interview
An older, more comfortable Neve Campbell reprises the iconic role of Sidney Prescott in Scream 4.
Fifteen years after Sidney Prescott first evaded the gleaming knife of a ghost-masked killer, Neve Campbell, now 37, reprises the iconic role of the fragile/fierce heroine. Teaming again with director Wes Craven and actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and joined by a fresh new batch of Woodsboro youths ripe for the picking, the Toronto native stars in Scream 4, which may kick off a second trilogy of the parodic horror flicks.
After Scream 3, you said you weren’t interested in reprising Sidney. What changed your mind?
We all felt at the time that we’d been lucky to have made a successful trilogy and maybe we should just leave it at that. At that time, had we done a fourth, we’d probably [have been] right. When Bob [Weinstein] approached me nine months before we shot [Scream 4], I was very hesitant. And then [screenwriter] Kevin Williamson gave me a pitch.… What I like about the character this time around is she’s less of a victim and more of a fighter.
Some critics said Scream 3 indulged in horror-movie clichés that the first two spoofed. Do you think Scream 4 marks a return to form?
Yeah, it feels that way, it feels as though it’s hearkening back to the first. With Scream 3, what Wes struggled with was the fact that my time was limited. I was working on Party of Five [and] a film called Drowning Mona, so I couldn’t be in the film as much as might’ve been necessary for Wes to feel he could get enough of an arc for my character.
Courteney Cox said it was only during Scream 4 that you two really bonded. Why’d it take a few films?
When we made the first, the age gap may have seemed larger ’cause I was only 21, but also she was spending a lot of time with David on those films. She’s really bright and really witty and very funny and very wise. I adore her.
So she had more friend time now that she and David have separated?
In no way did they show that they were going through anything, but she and I did manage to find more time together.
It’s often said that onscreen you exude toughness and vulnerability. Do those opposing traits describe you offscreen as well?
Having been a dancer for many years, there’s a discipline and a strength that I took on. I started working when I was 14 years old, so perhaps I grew up a bit sooner than most would have. Do I have both? I think we all have both.
In the past few years you’ve been onstage and on TV more so than in film. Was that a conscious choice?
I have had films come around—they haven’t been the kind of scripts I wanted to make. The television pieces I’ve made were just pieces that I found intriguing. I haven’t read [film scripts] that I’ve been drawn to—and things that maybe were great but I don’t necessarily have a crack at, you know. [Laughs] But I’m about to go do a film with Roland Joffé and he’s one of my favorite directors—Singularity with Josh Hartnett. Also, I started in theater as a dancer and I’ve been living in London for six years and so I was drawn to the stage again.
What kinds of film scripts did you see that made you think, This isn’t what I want to be doing right now?
There’s just very few good scripts out there. I would say 90 percent—at least 90 percent—of the scripts I read I’m not very drawn to, I don’t think they’re very good. It comes down to the quality of the writing. It’s not an easy thing to do, and unfortunately a lot of people just pick up a pen and think they can do it [Laughs], and so you end up reading a lot of crap.
You once said being in a dank cave 20 feet underground was not as bad as sitting through a press junket.
[Laughs] That’s hilarious. Um, I might have said it. It’s quite possible.
Do you still feel that way?
I did one yesterday and it wasn’t as bad. Once you get older, you just get a little bit more comfortable in your own skin and a little less concerned about what people think. To be honest, I just get bored of hearing my own voice. [Laughs] That’s the worst part of it, just having to hear yourself all day long.
So it isn’t the media?
No, no, I get bored of myself! [Laughs]
Does it feel better with the press’s glare not shining so brightly on you now as it did 15 years ago?
Yeah, it’s nice for me. I was, gosh, 21 when my career hit pretty strongly. No one can really teach you how to deal with that much attention at that age, and it’s a tough enough age as it is, you know. So that was a hard time for me. I enjoy living in London ’cause I’m a lot more anonymous there. I prefer that.
Scream 4 opens Friday 15.