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Neve Campbell on Scream 4: ‘For Me, It’s Not That Challenging’

When Scream 4 opens, it's been over a decade since the last time Sidney Prescott matched wits with a serial killer, and suddenly, she finds her peaceful world upended in a very familiar way. Neve Campbell can relate: She's worked steadily since 2000's Scream 3, but Sidney is still her most high-profile role and returning to it puts her back in the media spotlight. As she told Vulture, she was initially reluctant to come back for this installment, and it wasn't the first time she dragged her feet on the franchise, even though she credits it with giving her a big-screen career.

It's said several times in this movie that Sidney needs to own who she is. Did you feel that you needed to own your identity as the star of the Scream franchise?
Absolutely. I mean, it is what it is, and it's not a bad thing — it's been a great thing for me. Obviously, when I was younger, I had some representation around me that were fearful that I would be stereotyped in a way.

Were you getting offered a lot of horror films?
Yeah, of course. But at the same time, when I did a romantic comedy, then all I was offered after that were romantic comedies.

Hollywood has a short memory.
And they only remember the last thing you did, yeah. So honestly, it hasn't been that big a deal. If anything, Scream has been fantastic for me, because it catapulted my career to a level that I wasn't at, obviously, when I was just doing Party of Five. It put me into a feature-film realm that I hadn't been in.

I had heard that when they were shooting Scream 3, you weren't eager to return and they had to minimize your role.
Well, I was also very busy. I think I was shooting Scream and Drowning Mona at the same time, so there wasn't a big window for me.

Not a lot of time, but a lot of wig changes, I would imagine.
[Laughs.] Yes, a lot of wig changes and not a lot of opportunity. I didn't have much time to be a part of that film, unfortunately.

How satisfied were you with the franchise after making Scream 3? Did you really anticipate that it would come back?
There was always the question of it, because the audiences always wondered. Ten years ago, I said, "No, never again," and at the time, I felt that was the right decision. Ten years ago, had we done the fourth one right after [Scream 3], I don't think people would have been as enthusiastic, just because you can really overdo something. We had made a good trilogy, and I think there aren't a lot of trilogies where you can say that each film is good and was successful. At the time, I think we all felt that we should leave it at that, but ten years later, we all realized that it might be nice for audiences to revisit it, and certainly it would be nice for us too.

If they had rebooted it without you, Courteney, and David, how would you have felt about that?
Gosh. It would have been odd to me. I think I would have felt that it wasn't a Scream film, especially if they'd done it without Wes and Kevin, because they are what make these films Scream films. Obviously, I think Dewey and Sidney and Gale are a big part of it, too, so it would have been a very different animal.

What's your relationship like with Kevin Williamson? Did he write the script for this knowing that you were definitely on board?
He actually didn't start writing the script until he found out who was going to be involved. It wouldn't have made sense for him to start and then find out that David and Courteney and I weren't up for it, so he did come to us and pitch us the idea. When Bob went to him and said he wanted to make another film, he had an idea in his head, but I at first had been quite hesitant. I think nine months before we shot the film, I said no. It took quite a while, and really, what convinced me was Kevin coming to me and giving me his pitch and his concept for the film. I realized that we could still do something good with it.

Why did they replace Kevin with Ehren Kruger after shooting started?
Kevin got busy with his series. This is his script, but at the same time, when he got busy with his television series, he had to go back to work. I believe there were some problems with the network — they were getting frustrated that he was spending so much time on Scream, so he had to move on. Then they brought Ehren in, and Wes. They did tweaks here and there, but the big brush strokes are Kevin's.

Since two of your best-known credits are a horror franchise and Robert Altman's The Company, a ballet movie, I couldn't let this interview pass without asking your thoughts on the recent ballet horror movie, Black Swan.
I haven't seen it!

Come on, Neve!
I know! And I really want to see it. I was so bummed because I get all the screeners for the Oscars and I didn't receive it — whether someone stole it from me or not, I don't know. And then I agreed to go see it with my friend Donald, who's a dancer, and then we were never able to at the same time.

I think it's in the dollar theaters now. You'd better hurry!
I know, I've gotta go see it. I've heard very mixed reviews. People either love it or they hate it, but I think that's what makes for a great film. The problem might be the people who are expecting it to be a ballet movie, and I hear that's not what it is — it's a horror film in the world of dance.

A lot was made about how physically harrowing it was for Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis to drop weight and become ballet dancers. Been there?
Yeah. Well, I did all of my dancing in my film, and I trained for eight months, eight hours a day. I had been a professional dancer beforehand, so it was about getting my body back in shape, really. But good for them.

Did you have to get your body back in a certain kind of shape for Scream 4?
Well, not on that level. [Laughs.] This character, I know her so well that for me, it's not that challenging. It's very obvious to me what to do with her, and while everyone else gets these broadly comedic or crazy characters, because Sidney is so central, she needs to be more subtle so that the audience has someone to follow. For me, it's about being realistic and putting myself in her place. But yeah, physically I had to train for months beforehand, and then right before we shot, I hurt my foot. So I did the film with an injured foot, which was a drag. But it was okay.

Photo: Patrick McMullan