In the event you got here of age within the late ‘90s, there’s an excellent likelihood Neve Campbell’s signature chestnut bob and anxious, piercing gaze outlined your formative cinematic experiences. Maybe you noticed her play a shy burn victim-turned-witch within the cult traditional The Craft. Or possibly you watched, in whole awe, as she kissed Denise Richards whereas portraying a manipulative outcast in Wild Issues. And if each of these performances one way or the other handed you by, there’s no approach in hell you didn’t see her star as Sidney Prescott, the final word closing lady in Wes Craven’s iconic slasher, Scream, and its sequel, Scream 2. Apparently, all 4 of these films got here out inside a two-year stretch, between 1996 and 1998, solidifying Campbell as one of many decade’s greatest—and most talked-about—stars.
When Canadian-born Campbell was forged as Sidney Prescott, a powerful and regular excessive schooler merely simply making an attempt to outlive the wrath of a murderous Ghostface killer, she was solely 22 years previous, and although it was her first starring function, she by no means may have identified that she’d go on to reside with the character for over 25 years, reprising her in 4 sequels. Scream, the fifth movie and first iteration since Craven’s loss of life in 2015, premieres Jan. 14. She additionally had no concept that she was about to be catapulted to a stage of fame so excessive that, inside the span of a 12 months, she would break field workplace information, host Saturday Night time Reside, and seem on the quilt of Rolling Stone.
“That top of fame was not one thing a 22-year-old actually is aware of easy methods to deal with,” she says throughout a Zoom dialog, carried out in late 2021 from the consolation of her kids’s room, the place bunk beds sit behind her. (Campbell is mom to sons Caspian, 9, and Raynor, 3, with accomplice JJ Feild.) “I used to be fortunate that I used to be working a lot that I didn’t get misplaced. I see lots of celebrities after they’re at that top fall down the rabbit gap, whether or not it’s addictions or breakdowns.” As an alternative of partying, Campbell says throughout that point she labored 15 or 16 hours a day for ten months a 12 months filming Get together of 5, the acclaimed Fox TV sequence that launched her profession, and spent her “day without work” showing in films.
“This can inform you how drained I used to be,” she begins. “I used to be in a automobile with my supervisor and my publicist and my supervisor stated, ‘Inform her, inform her,’ to my publicist. And he goes, ‘I’m actually excited to inform you: I bought you Rolling Stone.’ And I went, ‘What? I’m so drained. I don’t wish to do one other picture shoot.’ I had no thought what an enormous deal it was to be on the quilt of Rolling Stone.”
Spoiler alert: She did the shoot—clearly—and whereas the quilt line learn “Neve Campbell: Crimson-Sizzling Get together Lady,” the accompanying profile and Campbell’s recollection of her youth are principally the other. To make clear, earlier than touchdown Get together of 5, Campbell was born and raised in Guelph, Canada, earlier than coaching as a ballerina on the Nationwide Ballet College of Canada in Toronto. “I used to be simply dancing, dancing, dancing—I used to be very disciplined and it was sort of insular,” she says. She didn’t pay a lot consideration to popular culture and was undoubtedly not a horror movie buff. (The Changeling freaked her out an excessive amount of.)
However touchdown Scream modified all the pieces. Campbell was enamored by the hilarious meta script written by Kevin Williamson (who then went on to create the beloved teen drama Dawson’s Creek), and the originality of the scares—a trademark Craven transfer. In hindsight, it’s no shock that the 1996 movie was a megahit, turning into the highest-grossing slasher movie on the earth till 2018. All that success, although, meant that Campbell stored getting presents to star in much more scary films. “I used to be by no means going to do one other horror film as a result of I already made one of the best one,” she says. “Why would I downgrade?”
It’s a good query. So she ditched Hollywood for some time as a technique to recalibrate. Scream 3 was launched in 2000 and three years later, Campbell moved to England for seven years, the place she dove into the theater group. “I discovered an excellent deal about myself and craft,” she says. “I immersed myself otherwise that’s actually laborious to do within the States.” When she began in search of on-screen roles once more, this time, the presents had been completely different and got here within the type of status TV: She made a memorable visitor look on Mad Males and landed a recurring function on Home of Playing cards. “I used to be all of the sudden out of that younger ingenue factor and I used to be seen extra as a grown girl. The foundations are extra attention-grabbing with these roles.”
Experience-or-die Scream followers will seemingly agree with Campbell’s evaluation. Watching Sidney develop from a timid excessive schooler with so many boy issues right into a knife (and gun)-wielding badass who mentors a youthful era of Woodsboro teenagers making an attempt to not die has been an enchanting and emotional journey. As an alternative of simply preventing for her life when Ghostface returns, she’s sharing life-or-death knowledge, institutional data, and escape routes that may really work. (Try Scream 4, which premiered in 2011 and was the primary movie within the franchise to indicate Sidney as a part of the older era, to see her skilled wits at work.) Although Campbell can’t share a lot in regards to the new Scream’s plot, she does reveal that Sidney is now a mom, which brings out a complete different stage of survivalism. “As a mother, the concept of something threatening your kids shall be dire for her.”
However Campbell did want a bit of convincing to return again and reprise her function, particularly with out Craven in cost. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the administrators behind one other cheeky slasher movie Prepared or Not, helm the movie and finally received her over with a letter about how a lot Scream impacted their work and the way they hoped to deal with her character and the story.
Nonetheless, it took prolonged negotiations for Campbell to formally signal on. “Solely previously few years have I felt assured to ask [for more money] as a result of I was instructed, ‘Oh you possibly can’t ask,’” she says. “I ponder if I’d been a male engaged on the fifth movie of this franchise, if it will’ve been the identical dialog in my negotiation. We bought there ultimately, however I really feel like it will have been completely different if I used to be a person. I actually do.”
Reprising the function of Sidney as soon as once more means stepping again into the sneakers of a girl who has had an unlimited impression on viewers. “It’s all the time stunning to me to have folks come up and say, ‘Sidney Prescott modified my life. She made me really feel extra assured. She made me much less of a sufferer. She made me take motion,’” says Campbell. “You don’t anticipate that whenever you make a movie like this, particularly on this style.”
Sidney may not have that impression on folks had been it not for Campbell’s portrayal, rife with vulnerability, intelligence, and a palatable dose of humor. The character could not all the time make the proper strikes, however she is fearless and determined to outlive it doesn’t matter what—even when it means killing a couple of baddies alongside the best way. That comfortable confidence is why, whenever you settle in to observe a Scream movie, realizing that half of the characters shall be sliced and diced by the top credit, you hope that possibly, simply possibly, Sidney Prescott will make it out alive.