Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette Talk Scream 4

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It’s been almost 11 years since Ghostface was slicing and dicing on the big screen, but now he’s back with some old friends, a fresh set of victims to play with and a brand new set of rules to play by in Wes Craven’s latest genre effort, Scream 4, which hits theaters on April 15th.

Recently Dread Central caught up with director Craven as well as Scream veterans Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette during their press day in Los Angeles to find out what brought them all back for more Ghostface mayhem and how technology changed the rules of the Scream world while Craven (somewhat) addresses the script controversy surrounding Kevin Williamson’s departure over script politics.

Craven, who unleashed the first Scream on unsuspecting audiences back in 1996, spoke about what brought everyone back for a brand new installment in what may end up proving to be the director’s most profitable franchise in his prolific career.

“Bob Weinstein is kind of the Godfather of the Scream franchise, and I think the new film came about when he and Kevin were talking and he felt it was time to bring the franchise back,” explained Craven. “He originally said after Scream 3 that there weren’t going to be any more for a long time because he didn’t want it to feel like we were knocking them out as a cash cow just to make money. And of course, there was Scary Movie and its sequels so we wanted to get some distance from that as well.”

“At the end of the decade I definitely think it was the perfect time to take a look around because it was very definitive in nature. So it was time to take a look at how all of that was changing as well as how people went about watching movies has even changed since then. Since Kevin (Williamson) and I both spend a lot of time on the internet, I think even old fogeys like myself or people Kevin’s age can understand the power of these tools and how they can be misused. There’s a power to the internet that didn’t exist fifteen years ago,” Craven added.

For actor Arquette, who reprises his role as the lovable good-natured Dewey Riley, he saw the changes in both the internet and technology as new ways to have some fun with the iconic franchise’s rules established back in the 90s. “What’s kind of cool is this new movie is bringing to life sort of a brand new original Scream in some ways because the rules have changed in horror films in general. Even technology has changed so much that it has affected what kind of killer Ghostface is this time around. It’s a whole new playground for the killer this time.”

Craven chimed in to talk about how technology also changed the ‘horror movie rules’ in Scream 4. “I think the very essence of the Scream films is that we always break the rules of horror. We establish what the rules are in all of our films, and then we immediately break them, and that started with frame one of the original movie. You have a character say ‘I’ll be right back,’ but he turns out to be the killer. Neve has sex in the first one, but she lives. It kind of drives the audience nuts sometimes because they think they know what’s coming but then we hit them right out of left field.”

New rules and changes in technology weren’t the only new tricks up Craven’s sleeve for the fourth installment- the director also lined up a stellar all-star cast for the survivors of the original trilogy to work alongside with. For lead actress Campbell, she found the new crop of players refreshing to work with on the project.

“The younger cast was great to have on board,” said Campbell. “They all came with a huge amount of enthusiasm for Scream 4. People keep asking us if we had to show them the ropes at all, and we definitely didn’t. They are all such professionals who have already established themselves with impressive careers at young ages so they didn’t need any help from us.”

Campbell went on to discuss how she prepared to step back into Sidney’s shoes once again. “It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years now that we’ve been these characters. Sidney is just such a huge part of me so it was natural to come back to play her again. I even rewatched the first three movies before we shot the fourth one, and it was nice to see how well they’ve all held up over the years.”

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For Cox, her character of Gale Weathers has undergone a lot of changes since audiences last saw her at the end of Scream 3. She spoke about the struggles that audiences will now see Gale facing in this latest Scream sequel.

Cox said, “I think I am definitely playing a different kind of journalist this time around. Gale has always wanted her own fame and has had her own agenda in all three previous Scream movies, but now she’s struggling with settling for an average life in a small town and it’s hard for her. You see her struggle with that, and it affects her world in a big way.”

There has been a lot of controversy that has surrounded the Scream 4 camp ever since it was reported that Williamson left the project and writer Ehren Krueger (who penned Scream 3) had to step in for rewrite duty. Director Craven cleared the air (mostly) on who really helmed the latest Scream sequel and his feelings about the script quality in general.

“I think we’re all very pleased with how the script came out. Scream 4 started off with Kevin’s original completed script and then Ehren did a decent amount of work on several scenes in the movie to flesh those out. I also wrote several scenes in the movie even, but it very much is Kevin’s concept, characters and overarching framework of the film, and it’s very much Kevin’s story on the big screen,” said Craven.

When he wasn’t busy worrying about the Williamson controversy, Craven and The Weinstein Company had to also contend with trying to keep all of Scream 4’s secrets quiet so that audiences won’t have any of their fun ruined when they head to theaters on April 15th. The director found the task daunting but necessary.

“Keeping things secret on set was almost like doing spy work,” said Craven. “Everything we did even back to when we did our original casting (not our core three actors obviously) was shrouded in secrecy. There was no way we could have hundreds of actors reading pages from the actual Scream 4 script so we had them read pages from the original Scream, which was kind of bizarre. It was kind of annoying to have to continue to go to such great lengths to keep what we could away from fans, but it’s definitely necessary to keep things as close to the vest as we possibly could. Knowing too much ruins it for audiences.”

And if there’s one thing Craven knows, it’s how to make the audiences happy. The over $500 million in box office receipts from his original Scream trilogy is proof of that. Both Cox and Campbell spoke about what makes Craven a true master of not only the horror genre but as a true storyteller as well.

“Wes always has impeccable taste when it comes to the level of talent that gets involved in any of his projects,” explained Campbell. “He’s also got an amazing sense of timing when it comes to telling a story, getting people to laugh at the right moments and then scaring them half to death at the very next turn. That’s rare to find in Hollywood.”

“There’s no doubt that Wes is an amazing filmmaker. Yes, he is the master of this genre and he’s now made four of these films in particular, which is amazing to be a part of, but what makes him stand out is that he always stays so current on movies and works so hard to get consistently better as a storyteller, which I don’t even know if that’s possible at this point in his career because he is so gifted,” Cox added.

Look for the latest Scream to slash its way into theaters on April 15th, and for more on all things Scream 4 related, be sure to follow @wescraven on Twitter. Look for Dread’s coverage of the second Scream 4 press conference with Anthony Anderson, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin coming tomorrow!

“Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.”

Don’t forget that we are hosting an exclusive live chat commentary with Dan Farrands and Thommy Hutson during the premiere of A&E’s Biography Channel’s “Scream: The Inside Story” on Wednesday, April 6th, at 8pm ET / 5pm PT, right here on Dread Central. Add this Facebook Event Listing to your profile as a reminder.

Wes Craven, Neve Campell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette Talk Scream 4

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