20 interesting things you probably didn't know about the 'Scream' movies

20 interesting things you probably didn't know about the 'Scream' movies
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drew barrymore scream ghostface
Drew Barrymore, and other celebrities starred in "Scream." Dimension Films
  • "Scream" (1996) is a horror classic and a new one is coming in 2022.

  • Selma Blair didn't receive credit for "Scream 2" (1997) and Drew Barrymore almost played Sidney.

  • "Scream" was originally a one-act play and its name is inspired by a song.

The film's title was inspired by a Michael Jackson song.

Singer Janet Jackson and singer Michael Jackson attend the 35th Annual Grammy Awards on February 24, 1993 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson at the 1993 Grammy Awards. Ron Galella, Ltd/Getty

Throughout production, "Scream" was known as "Scary Movie."

Bob Weinstein and disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein of Miramax told director Wes Craven and his crew they had to change it. They found inspiration in a song performed by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.

"Michael Jackson had a song out, and Harvey's listening to it, and of course the song was 'Scream,'" said Bob in the documentary "Scream: The Inside Story."

At first, the team wasn't happy about the change but they later conceded that they couldn't imagine any other title.

"Scream" was born as a one-act play.

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The masked killer in "Scream." Dimension Films

The opening scene of "Scream" follows a killer stalking a young woman named Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) while she talks on the phone.

In a 2021 interview with Comic book, screenwriter Kevin Williamson said he came up with the premise and wrote it as a one-act play.

He considered shooting it as a short film but ultimately decided to flesh it out into a screenplay.

"Scream" was a low-budget movie.

Writer/Director Wes Craven attends the 'Scream' Westwood Premiere on December 18, 1996 at Avco Center Cinemas in Westwood, California.
Wes Craven at the premiere"Scream" in 1996. Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

According to a 2021 Hollywood Reporter interview, orchestral composer Marco Beltrami said that the film worked with a smaller budget.

"I really didn't have the budget for a lot of the things I wanted to do," he said. At one point, Beltrami said, Craven had to record whistles with string players and producers to complete a theme song.

"Every time I hear that cue now, I can picture Wes standing back there whistling."

Craven turned the project down more than once.

Wes Craven Frederick M. Brown Getty
Director Wes Craven is known for his work in the horror genre. Frederick M. Brown/Getty

By the mid-1990s, Craven was known as a master of horror thanks to films like "A Nightmare on Elm Street"(1984), "The Last House on the Left" (1972), and "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977).

He was a logical choice to lead the project, though not the first. According to a 2015 Vulture interview with Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and others were considered.

Unfortunately for the studio, Craven wanted to take a break from gore. According to a 2021 Hollywood Reporter interview with the film's writers and editors, he initially rejected the project because he thought it was too violent and dark.

According to a 2004 Vanity Fair article, he turned the job down twice but eventually came around to the idea.

Drew Barrymore was supposed to play Sidney, but she chose Casey.

scream drew barrymore
Drew Barrymore originally agreed to play the lead. Woods Entertainment / Dimension

Having your biggest star, and the face on the poster, killed off in the first 15 minutes of a film was unheard of, and the credit for that twist goes to Barrymore herself.

"In the horror film genre, my biggest pet peeve was that I always knew the main character was going to be slugging through at the end, but was going to creak by and make it," she told host Sean Evans during a 2020 episode of First We Feast's YouTube series "Hot Ones."

"What I wanted to do is to take that comfort zone away. So I asked if I could be Casey Becker so that we would establish that that rule does not apply in this film," she said.

Barrymore accidentally called the police while filming.

Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore and Wes Craven during ""Scream"" Memorabilia presentation - December 12, 1996 in New York City, New York, United States.
Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore and Wes Craven in 1996. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

While filming the opening scene, Barrymore was given a phone that was connected to a real landline.

During takes, she accidentally dialed 9-1-1 for real, unaware that she was calling and hanging up on the local police dispatcher.

In the 2011 documentary "Still Screaming," prop master J. P. Jones recalled they realized their mistake when the police called the set.

Craven used Barrymore's love of animals to get her to cry.

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Wes Craven knew Drew Barrymore loved animals. Dimension Blu-Ray

Trigger warning: Animal abuse

In the "Scream" DVD commentary, Craven said that Barrymore's performance in the film is the result of her putting "an enormous amount of trust in me."

Before filming, she cried while telling the director about a story in the newspaper that involved a dog being set on fire by its owner.

"I'm lighting the match" became their trigger to get her to have the same emotional response on camera.

Courteney Cox had to convince Craven to let her be in the film.

Parker Posey, Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette in Wes Craven's "Scream 3."
Parker Posey, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette in "Scream 3." Joseph Viles/Dimension Films/Getty

At this point in her career, Cox had already made a name for herself on NBC's "Friends" and NBC's "Family Ties."

According to a 2021 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, after hearing about the role of Gale, Cox wrote Craven a letter.

She "assured him that being 'a bitch' wouldn't be a stretch at all," after playing such "calculated characters."

Speaking of animals, the voice on the other end of the phone is shared by an angry cartoon chimp.

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You might be surprised to learn about the caller's connection to "The Powerpuff Girls." Dimension Films

In a 2015 interview with Fusion, voice actor Roger Jackson recalled getting hired as the temporary phone voice for the killer Ghostface in the first film.

The producers liked his performance so much that they kept him in.

He has since reprised the role in all of the sequels and in the television series.

Jackson has numerous other voice-acting credits, but monkey villain Mojo Jojo in Cartoon Network's animated series "The Powerpuff Girls" is one of his iconic roles.

To help the performances, Craven wouldn't let the cast meet the voice.

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Wes Craven accepts the Mastermind Award during the 2008 Scream Awards. Chris Pizzello/AP

Though he was on set and physically on the phone with Barrymore and Neve Campbell, Jackson did not don the mask and cloak.

That job went to stunt performer Dane Farwell.

It was Craven's idea to distance the disembodied voice from the protagonists so their reactions could remain genuine.

The mask was found during a location scout.

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Ghostface has one of the most recognizable masks. Dimension Films

According to Huffington Post, the only costume direction the screenplay included was for a "ghost mask killer."

The filmmakers went through ideas, sketches, and models but none of them worked.

According to a 2015 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Wes Craven recalled touring a home they were considering for the film when producer Marianne Maddalena spotted the mask draped over a chair.

In a 2020 interview with Scream Thrillogy, Maddalena recalled finding the perfect fit. She said, "I ran downstairs with it and showed the team and they did not share my enthusiasm."

They tried to sculpt others like it because they didn't own the original.

Eventually, when those attempts fell short, they tracked down the Fun World mask and negotiated to include it in the film.

The "Friday the 13th" (1980) trivia question once earned Williamson free alcohol.

Writer of Scream Kevin Williamson before the premiere at Rockwell Table & Stage Hosts Unauthorized Movie Parody Featuring "Scream" at Rockwell Table & Stage on October 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Writer Kevin Williamson in 2014. Brian Gove/WireImage

In the "Scream" commentary, Williamson shares that one night at bar trivia, he stumped the audience with the question: "What was the name of the killer in the original 'Friday the 13th?'"

The stakes were not as high as they were for Casey and her boyfriend Steve, but the question did win him a free drink and subsequently wound up in the screenplay.

Sidney's address pays homage to Craven's filmography.

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The house from "A Nightmare on Elm Street." New Line Cinema

In an extended version of the scene where Sidney uses her computer to dial the police, she can be seen typing her home address: 34 Elm Street.

The Easter egg, a nod to"A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), was later cut for time.

There are other Craven references throughout the franchise.

nightmare on elm street
There are several references to "A Nightmare on Elm Street." New Line Cinema

In addition to Craven himself making a cameo as "Fred" the janitor in a Freddy Krueger sweater in the first film, there is a direct mention of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and how much the sequels "sucked."

Tatum (Rose McGowan) also mentions "Wes Carpenter movies," a combination of Craven and "Halloween" (1978) director John Carpenter.

There is a Freddy-esque sweater hanging on a door in "Scream 2." There's also a poster for "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006) and a trivia question about Krueger's weapon in "Scream 4" (2011).

Selma Blair is uncredited in "Scream 2."

Selma Blair at the L.A. PREMIERE OF 'SCREAM 3' BY WES CRAVEN
Selma Blair at the premiere of "Scream 3" in Los Angeles. Frank Trapper/Getty

According to a 2012 Anthem interview, Blair revealed she played the phone voice of Cici's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) friend.

The two actresses would reunite two years later in "Cruel Intentions" (1999).

The color palette of "Scream" was inspired by a famous painting.

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Edward Munch's painting inspired the costume designer. Art Media/The Print Collector/Getty Images

In a 2020 interview with Scream Thrillogy, costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom spoke about some of the inspirations for the characters' ensembles in the original film.

She said she matched clothes to personalities and incorporated personal wardrobe choices from a couple of the actors.

Bergstrom revealed that the reds, oranges, yellows, and greens of Woodsboro were based on Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream."

Campbell was only on set for 20 days during "Scream 3" (2000).

neve campbell scream 4
Neve Campbell in "Scream 4." Dimension Films

By 2000, Campbell's star had risen thanks to the success of the franchise and her work in other projects.

When it came time to film "Scream 3," she was already busy with Fox's "Party of Five" and the 2000 film "Drowning Mona."

But there is no "Scream" without Sidney Prescott. According to The Independent, the filmmakers worked out a contract that had her on set for about three weeks.

Williamson did not write "Scream 3."

Parker Posey, Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette in Wes Craven's "Scream 3."
Parker Posey, Courteney Cox Arquette, and David Arquette in "Scream 3." Joseph Viles/Dimension Films/Getty

Due to ongoing conflicts with Bob Weinstein, Williamson did not return to write the third installment in the franchise.

Instead, it was written by Ehren Kruger, who also wrote the 2002 horror film "The Ring," the 2014 sci-fi "Transformers: Age of Extinction," and the 2022 action movie "Top Gun: Maverick."

Williamson returned for "Scream 4" and is listed as an executive producer in the upcoming "Scream."

Lake Bell was supposed to star as Deputy Judy Hicks in "Scream 4."

Lake Bell
Lake Bell had conflicts in her schedule. Ron Batzdorff/ABC/Getty Images

In the summer of 2010, Bell said she had to drop out of the fourth installment due to scheduling conflicts.

Bell tweeted her disappointment and teased fans about the upcoming scary movie, writing that she knew who the killer was but that she wasn't going to tell.

"Scream 4" was meant to be the start of a new trilogy.

scream 4 emma roberts
Emma Roberts in "Scream 4." Dimension Films

In 2011, Craven said that when he started talking to Williamson about going back to Woodsboro, it wasn't for a one-off.

"He had an idea for a new trilogy," the director told Movieweb in a 2011 interview. "And I think that was Bob Weinstein 's thing also about waiting so long — if there were to be a 'Scream 4,' there would also probably be a 'Scream 5 ' and a 'Scream 6' sooner or later so we could construct a new trilogy that kind of stood on its own."

Unfortunately, Craven died from brain cancer in 2015.

In a 2016 Entertainment Tonight interview, Williamson said he was unsure about another trilogy.

"Now without Wes, I feel like you have to sort of answer the questions of how and why, and I don't know how to do it without Wes and I don't know why to do it," he explained.

With the upcoming "Scream" film, it seems that writers Guy Busick, Jeremy Vanderbilt, and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have found a way.

After meeting them, Williamson agreed to be a part of the project. "It felt like it was in great hands and they're so talented," he told ComicBook.com in 2021.

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