Neve Campbell’s New Old-School: ‘Scream 4’, ‘Party of Five,’ & ‘Wild Things’
Ontario-born actress Neve Campbell first found fame on Fox’s Party of Five before perfecting her little “girl lost in horror, blood and gore act” in The Craft, playing a teen witch even though she was in her early 20s at the time. Looking perennially younger than she actually is, Neve moved on to even greater fame amongst a new generation of slasher flick fans as Sidney Prescott in the Scream trilogy, the most successful psychological horror genre films of all time. Thrillingly, the four are due to reunite for Scream 4 which is scheduled to start filming in the spring. Campbell has lived, almost secretly, in London for the last five years with her actor husband John Light, a Brit. Indeed: these days the 36 year-old actress is such a fully paid-up Anglophile, even Madonna and Gwyneth would be impressed. Maybe even shown up.
You seem to be very settled living in London these days. Would you consider yourself an Anglophile? Absolutely! I’ve lived in leafy Islington for five years now. I lived in LA for 13 years, but it just didn’t suit me. I’m from Toronto and I’m really used to a city I can walk around in, I guess. After I saw Crash, I realized: it’s true. People only really meet in LA when they get out of their cars. It’s a very isolating city. I have to be a little careful in London with the attention of the paparazzi. But on the whole, people are very respectful.
Do you ever feel drawn to horror films due to your legacy in them? I’m very thankful for the Scream movies. They were fantastic for my career. Do I fear being pigeonholed for making this genre of movie? Not really. I’ve had a good ride, career-wise.
So you don’t think you are in any danger of becoming the next Jamie Lee Curtis of the shock-horror world? Being the next Jamie would be fine! (laughs) In fact, we start shooting Scream 4 in mid-April. I’m so happy that those of us still “alive” from 1, 2 and 3 like David (Arquette) and Courtney (Cox) have already signed up to take part.
Did you all stay in touch after the trilogy had wrapped? Oh, yes. Completely. I haven’t spoken to them in a while. I’m sure it took a while to convince them to take part [in the picture], especially because they’re now a very happy family ,and of course, it was a long journey for them. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and a lot like going back to summer camp.
What else can you tell us about Scream 4? I’m pretty sure at this stage that Wes [Craven] is back on board to direct and Kevin [Willamson] is definitely writing it…so it is going to be great.
So you haven’t been sent a script yet, then? No. Not yet. They had to wait for us all to sign on. I suppose that’s the way these days!
What’s the key to playing Sidney? Physically speaking, it’s all about working the bob! And the only way I can achieve that properly every day on set is through Tara Smith hair products. Seriously, if Tara didn’t cut and style my hair in an amazing girly way to re-create the Sidney look, I wouldn’t have a starting point [for the character]. I’m not kidding. Hers are the only products I can use without killing my hair and skin, as they are 100% organic and free of chemicals.
You sound like a big fan! Honestly, your readers should try them and get the Sidney bob to hold for when the film comes out next year! Once I’ve got the hairstyle, the character of Sidney definitely comes back to me.
Work-wise, what’s next for you before shooting Scream in the Spring? Well, I’m always trying to find a great new scam to avoid the dark, damp British winters if I can! So, I’ve just signed up to do a movie in Sydney, Australia starting in December.
What’s the movie about? It’s tells the story of a very brave female composer from the 40s. I have been lent a very modern sounding piano to help me get into the role — well, it actually doesn’t make any sound at all, it’s to learn on.
Sounds…neighbor-friendly? Yes. Exactly! (laughs) What happens is: I hit the keys and the only sound it makes comes through my headphones! My three little Shizu dogs look at me as if I’m going a bit mad. I’ve never played an instrument in my life, and now I have piano lessons three times a week. At first, I found it a bit overwhelming and daunting, but now I’m really enjoying it.
What else? I heard that you love the London theater scene. You know that it’s now a tradition for all North American actresses who appear on the stage in the West End to appear naked in at least one scene…. Yes. I did know that (laughing). I believe it’s in every contract!
Bearing that in mind, would you consider taking your clothes off every night in the chilly West End? I don’t know. It would obviously have to depend on the piece I was in. When those scripts come along, you have to give them a lot of thought. If I personally don’t feel that it would help my career or bring any great joy into my life, then I won’t do it.
What’s your most defining characteristic? I’m a very level-headed Libra! A real pragmatist! (laughs) I’m sure I can be very stubborn, though. I’m very strong willed if I think something should be done a certain way.
How do you indulge yourself? Fast cars? Well, on the subject of the cars…. I used to drive a Porsche years ago. I wouldn’t drive something like that these days, though. And I’ve spent a good amount on fashion disasters. I’ve never had a great sense of style. I think I’m finally just starting to get it, how I should dress!
Really? When I look back at a lot of the photos I’ve done over the years, most of them are pretty terrible. I don’t think I ever had strong opinions about what I should wear, so I let a lot of stylists choose clothes for me.
So you’ve never craved the lifestyle of a fashionista, sitting front row at all the fashion shows? No way! Are you kidding? I’d just be way too intimidated!
Do you ever get mistaken for anyone else in the profession? Occasionally, people think I’m Jennifer Love Hewitt because we were both on Party Of Five and also because she made Know What You Did Last Summer and I did Scream. But she is still such a beautiful girl, so it’s not such a bad thing!
How often do you get over to the States these days? Not too often. I get all my scripts sent to me and fortunately, I’m now in a position in which I can afford to do one lucrative movie — like a Scream — and then smaller, more independent projects, usually set in a nice country! I only go to LA about once a year now. Although, that might increase now that I am producing more. I’ve already produced two movies and want to eventually move more into the writing and directing side of things.
What else are you involved with apart from film? I do a huge amount of work for an orphanage in Africa called Botsha Bello. There are 300 kids there and 30% suffer from HIV. It is really shocking how they have been left behind. I’ve spent quite a lot of time at the orphanage. Now, I want to help them set up some businesses if I can and create a business model for them to move further. Maybe I’ll call him or her Sidney!
Would you consider adopting one of the kids? Yeah. Absolutely. At some point, we will. I’d love to do that.
Why are most of your US fans surprised to hear that you live in London? Probably because I didn’t make a big announcement of it. I’ve always been a very private person. I get offered all these reality shows here like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (in the Queensland jungle) and Survivor-type stuff, but I tell my agent that I’ll never, ever consider doing it.
What did you think about Wild Things 2? I didn’t even know they’d made it until I saw it one night on TV. The original was so much fun to make! A great movie, and Matt Dillon and Miami were lots of fun, too! How funny though, to do a sequel without anyone from the original cast, not connected in the slightest to the first movie. Hollywood can be strange like that.
Where will you be at Christmas? Sydney, I think. Maybe on Bondi Beach? Then, I’m sure we’ll be back in London in time for New Year’s with friends!
Where do you recommend in London? John and I adore the restaurant at the The Almeida Theatre. It’s just a five minute walk from our house. You can have a beautiful meal there these days. The theater itself is a restored Grade II listed theater, by the way. The Antiques Market in Islington is also a place I love to go to just let my mind wander back in time. It’s located on Camden Passage, but make sure you go on a Wednesday or a Saturday because those are the only days of the week when all of the little shops or stalls are open. It’s not as big as the nearby Camden Market — some three miles away — but is a lot more intimate far, far less crowded.