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Skeet Ulrich Thought ‘Scream’ Was a ‘Very Serious Documentary About Two Killers’ Before Filming

"And man, was I wrong."

SCREAM, Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell, 1996

Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell in “Scream”

©Dimension Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

Wes Slasher’s 1996 slasher movie “Scream” is one of the most definitive horror-comedies ever made, but that’s not the type of film Skeet Ulrich thought he was acting in when he showed up to set on the first day of filming. Ulrich starred in the film as Billy Loomis, an avid horror movie fan who is the boyfriend of protagonist Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). He’s also the Ghostface killer, which is why Ulrich came to set fully thinking he was acting in a more serious psychological study of a teenage killer.

“I think part of it was the mindset of Billy and me getting into that mindset,” Ulrich recently told Entertainment Weekly while celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary. “I saw it as this very serious documentary about two killers in high school and I was researching serial killers and the psychology of them, so I didn’t really key into the humor of the story until take one of day one.”

After “day one, scene one, take one,” Ulrich realized “Scream” had a far lighter tone that he was preparing for. The first scene the “Scream” ensemble shot was the fountain sequence where the characters talk about the recent murders of their classmates. Ulrich watched co-stars Matthew Lillard and Jamie Kennedy bring “humorous moments” to the scene that left him confused.

“I just remember thinking, ‘What are they doing?’ Don’t they know?” Ulrich. said. “Like, ‘This isn’t funny. This isn’t supposed to be funny.’ And man, was I wrong.”

Lillard recently reflected on the 25th anniversary of “Scream” by telling Bloody Disgusting. “I don’t think anyone gave ‘Scream’ a lot of credence. I mean, I don’t think anyone gave us a chance because we were coming in with a director that wasn’t necessarily young and hot. And we were coming with two television actors. And I think that we had a version of [Craven] that was humbled and happy to be there. I think that the cast, we all had an experience within that. Because we were all young, and we were all cohesive. We were like this little family for two months.”

At the start of 2022, “Ready or Not” directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett will reboot Craven’s horror franchise with a new movie titled “Scream.” Original cast members David Arquette, Neve Campbell, and Courteney Cox are all returning to the franchise, while fresh faces will be played by Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, and Mason Gooding. The new “Scream” opens January 14, 2022.

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