How Wes Craven Used to Mess With Actors on the Set of Scream

It’s easy to think that starring in a horror movie titled ‘Scream’ would be enough to get the creative juices flowing, but if anyone has ever seen anything else that’s been directed by the legendary Wes Craven, they would understand that he had his own methods for keeping the actors on their toes. When it came to Scream it was apparent that just letting them act things out wasn’t good enough, and needed a little kick to really get things going. What he did with Drew Barrymore to get her going though was something that people might think is pretty cruel since in the current era it might actually be deemed controversial simply because of how the world appears to be so hyper-sensitive. But apparently Craven did use emotional manipulation on Drew at one point when needed her to really feel the moment. Arguably the most famous name in the movie, Drew didn’t last past the first scene, but it sounds as though she relayed to Wes a news story about a dog being burned alive that really managed to hit her hard.

Unless you’re a stone-cold psychopath that kind of story is bound to hit anyone hard, but even if Wes was feeling the sorrow of it, he decided to use the bit of news to his advantage when he needed Drew to perform. To get her in the right frame of mind at one point Wes actually told Drew he was ‘lighting the match’, which alluded to the story she’d told him. One can only imagine how much that got to Drew, and how much people today would jump on that story while calling Wes every nasty name in the book, along with several others that probably shouldn’t be repeated. The point is that he needed one of his actors to get into character and he used what he had on hand, a memory that he knew bothered Drew in a manner that would make her character stand out just a little more.

Is that cruel? Maybe a little if a person is especially sensitive to animal cruelty, which is horrible, to say the least. But to be honest, no. Getting a reaction out of his actors is what Wes needed, and for a movie like Scream he didn’t want anything to be phoned in or otherwise look fake or phony, and as a result, he did a couple of things that might have been deemed creepy, but not illegal and not physically or psychologically damaging to those he was working with. When comparing Wes’s antics with what Stanely Kubrick did to Shelley Duvall on the set of The Shining, it’s fair to say that Wes was being a bit sneaky while Kubrick was being kind of a pain in the backside. Another thing that Wes would do however is keep the voice of Ghostface, Roger L. Jackson, on the set where he could watch the actors. Jackson was never introduced to the actors, meaning that his job was to watch them and keep tabs on them.

This was an odd way to go about things to be certain, but for Wes, it was apparently all part of the process. There are plenty of stories out there detailing how some directors are hard to work with, some are hard to understand, and others are just, well, kind of odd at times. Wes is one of those that likely fit the third description since he liked doing things his way and at times this could be a bit awkward. But one thing that few people can really argue with is that he did get results, even for a movie franchise such as Scream, which should have likely ended after the second movie at the very least.

Directors tend to come up with their own tricks when it has to do with getting their actors in the right frame of mind, as they’ll either inspire them in some manner or attempt something that might reach them on another level that can get them where they need to be. Wes Craven has a reputation for being one of the best horror directors around, so it’s not hard to believe that he would mess with his cast every now and then to produce the results that he wanted. Even better, he managed to get what he wanted out of his actors more often than not and was fully capable of using that to his advantage when it came to making a movie. Some might want to call his behavior a little dodgy, perhaps even a little scandalous, but the fact is that he did what was needed in order to make it work. At the very least he didn’t do anything overly damaging or illegal, so it’s easy to think that his plan worked the way it was supposed to.

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