SCREAM Video Interview: Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett On Making Ghostface Scary (Exclusive)

Ghostface has been parodied on countless occasions, so making him scary again...well, it was no easy feat. Here, Scream's directors talk to us about that, working with the original cast, and much more!

Scream is now available for purchase on Digital, and comes loaded with plenty of killer bonus content. The terror then comes home on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on April 5 from Paramount Home Entertainment, and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett recently spoke to us about their work on the movie. Tackling an iconic horror property like this is no easy feat, but the filmmakers nailed it.

In this conversation with Matt and Tyler, we learn more about working with Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell, and learn more about their decision to tackle toxic fandoms here.

They also address the challenge of making Ghostface scary again after what can only be described as countless parodies over the years, and break down why actor Roger L. Jackson is so crucial to that. Finally, we hear from them about the possibility of a potential Stab spinoff and Scream 6 plans.

Their love of the franchise is clear to see, and it's fascinating to get these insights into the work that went into bringing Scream back to the big screen after an absence that spanned a decade.

Watch the full interview with Matt and Tyler in the player below:

I watched the film again this week and it’s so much fun. You must feel so proud and happy to have seen the response to it since it came out a couple of months ago?

Matt: Thank you! It has been. It’s been a lot of fun. I mean, honestly, hearing people liked it and that it resonated with them…it’s just the best. 

Tyler: In every way. This project has officially become a dream come true in every conceivable way [Laughs].

I mostly write about comic book movies, so I’m pretty familiar with how toxic certain fandoms can get [Laughs]. Obviously, that is something this film really addresses head-on, so what made you want to go down that route? It works brilliantly in the film, but were you concerned about pushing those buttons of that section of fans?

Matt: [Laughs] Yes, we were! Honestly, all credit is to James [Vanderbilt] and Guy [Busick], the writers, as they wrote the script and when we read it for the first time, it really worked for us. We thought, ‘Wow, it’s great to be able to talk about this.’ We’re movie fans. We get it. We’re part of that. The fun of this whole process has been that we’re on both sides of that coin. We’re not on a soapbox. We’re in it, having the conversation while we’re doing the thing that we’re talking about, so there’s a meta on meta kind of thing happening. It’s what Scream does best. All Screams have that kind of conversation about something happening right now and this, for this movie, when we read it, felt to us like it was exactly hitting the target as the thing to be talking about.

Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell all come back here, but how involved were they in terms of where their characters had been and where their journeys went throughout this movie as well?

Tyler: They were very involved in crafting the specific journey in this movie. All three of them. I think one of the things we wanted to do just as fans of theirs and certainly understanding that they’ve lived with these characters far longer than we have was to get them involved as early as possible and really get their thoughts. For as much as we think we know of who Sidney, Gale, and Dewie are, that they as performers approach those characters as something so personal to them, and we could never really know. Having their input and having them steer things. To Guy and James’ credit, they nailed who the characters are and where they’re at in their lives in their draft, but they were really instrumental in just nuancing and shaping who the characters are on screen in ways we would never have been able to do without their specific input. They were so, so invaluable to the process. I think also just having them involved was such a vote of confidence in what the whole process was. While they’re certainly super integral to the story, just knowing they were there and welcoming us into this existing family gave us all the shot in the arm we needed to have the confidence to actually pull the thing off. We’re just eternally grateful to them and such huge fans of all of them.

It goes without saying that Ghostface is such an iconic horror character, but he’s been parodied over the years and maybe watered down a little. Coming into this film, what was the biggest challenge of making him a terrifying adversary again?

Matt: It’s funny because that’s very true. There’s been how many parodies of Scream and Ghostface? For us, if done properly, Ghostface with the big knife trying to kill you should be really scary. That was something we really wanted to focus on and one of the things we found during this process is that we were so terrified, especially by the original, that we wanted to recreate that level of fear. Something that keeps coming up is that ours is way more brutal than the others which, for us, we never said that once. There was never a conversation where we said, ‘We’ve got to out-brutal the first four.’ It was about the experience of watching the original and how insanely heartfelt it is and violent at the same time. Obviously, the Casey Becker scene is one of the best scenes in movie history, not just in horror movies, in how it ratchets up the tension, brutality, and emotion at the end when her parents come home. For us, that taste never left our mouth. It never felt not scary, to be totally honest. It’s a scary character and I think our job was to make sure we’re presenting the scary version of this and not the version you’ve seen in the parodies [Laughs].

Roger L. Jackson returns to voice Ghostface and he is such an important part of this character and undervalued as well. What was it like working with him to bring Ghostface back to life?

Tyler: I think you’re right. Undervalued is the perfect way to put that. We all forget that, other than the mask which is its own thing, that voice is what connects us to him and what makes the killer a slasher icon up there with any of the great slasher icons. The voice is so much the identity of what Ghostface is. I think Roger really knows that and the thing about him as a performer and person, other than Ghostface, is he’s really playful. The playfulness and gamesmanship of what Ghostface is which is so much the focal of the affectation of how he sounds, that’s Roger. He’s always messing with you. He called in when we shot a lot of the opening sequence with Jenna Ortega, and he was on the phone with her live. We’d finish the take, call ‘cut,’ and one of us would grab the phone from Jenna and Roger would just still be in character trying to creep all of us out. He really gets a kick out of that and invests himself fully. So much of what Ghostface is is in that playful approach and who Roger is at his core [Laughs]. 

Thanks to streaming platforms like Paramount+, franchises like this can expand in quite unexpected ways, so how would you guys feel about maybe taking something like those Stab movies and maybe expanding on them? I know you’ve said there are a lot of deleted scenes because you filmed a lot more, but how about revisiting it on an episodic basis?

Matt: We’ve joked about it a lot. We’ve said that it would be so fun to make Stab movies. To literally go make Stab movies and make a bunch of them. It would be such a fun muscle to flex and such a fun way to look at something that’s already so self-referential and go even another layer into that world would be wild. We’ve never had a real conversation about it, but it is a great idea [Laughs].

Tyler: [Laughs] Yeah!

I have to ask, with the news coming out recently about the sequel being greenlit and a couple of days ago Neve talked about being asked to return, so is there anything you can tease about what your plans are or what you hope to explore?

Matt: Outer space. Sorry, was that a spoiler? [Laughs]

Tyler: Ghostface in space. No, I think the thing - we can’t talk too much about it - but what we can say is that what we love about Scream movies and the canon is that they take the expectation of what it is and totally flip it on its head. The movies have to, at their best, be aware of what the audience thinks is going to happen and then deliver on that in a way that’s totally unexpected. That’s the fun thing of these movies. That’s what we’re looking to design right now. How do we give people that Scream experience in a way that they’re totally unprepared for? That’s a really fun challenge. We hope to get to be part of it forever.

Finally, you’ve both seen the great reaction to the movie, but what’s the most positive experience and thing you’re proudest of about delivering this film and the way it’s turned out? 

Matt: For me, and Tyler will probably share this, is it’s kind of twofold and, in a weird way, the same thing. It’s the kind of family we created and how that happened when we were shooting. It was so special and we made a lot of hopefully lifelong friends. It was a really incredible experience just on a personal level. Then, also, us hearing from fans who have grown up with these movies and this franchise. It’s been a part of their lives since they were kids or before they were born when their parents loved it. It’s kind of like what the characters talk like in the movie, but to have those people reach out and say that they really liked this and it felt true to them and moved them, it’s incredible. There’s no higher compliment. ‘I liked it’ is great, but ‘I liked it and it really meant something to me on a personal level’  is the highest compliment.

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