Scream Writer Kevin Williamson Reflects on the Franchise's Legacy and Connecting With Fans

In the early '90s, horror fans were growing tired of the slasher subgenre, as the '80s were full of formulaic experiences featuring generic killers and forgettable storylines. In 1996, director Wes Craven teamed up with screenwriter Kevin Williamson to offer an all-new spin on the concept, depicting a town terrorized by teens who grew up on slashers, with Scream going on to entirely revive slasher cinema. In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, in addition to celebrating the upcoming new installment in the series, Williamson partnered with Airbnb and The Trevor Project to deliver Scream fans an Online Experience in which they get to ask the filmmaker all their burning questions.

Not only can fans take part in the upcoming virtual event, which you can request to join at airbnb.com/SecretsofSCREAM, they will also have the opportunity to request a booking in the home seen in the film's iconic finale, which you can request to book by heading to airbnb.com/halloween.

ComicBook.com caught up with Williamson to talk about the upcoming event, his interactions with fans, and what his future with the franchise might be.

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(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

ComicBook.com: This upcoming Online Experience sees you teaming up with The Trevor Project and allows you to directly connect with fans. As a two-part question, what is your connection to The Trevor Project and the work that they do and what does it mean to you to get the opportunity to directly connect with fans in such an intimate way?

Kevin Williamson: Well, The Trevor Project has always been near and dear to me. It's a charity that I've supported, I think, from its inception and throughout the years. I also personally dealt with suicide on a very personal level and so it just speaks to me when you think of a charity that can really just help and bring awareness to the gay, teen struggle. There's just far too many gay teens that ... One is too many, but the ratio of teen suicide among gays is so much higher than that of any other group. And also, to connect with the Scream fans, well, that's always a good thing. We have a new movie coming out and it's the 25th anniversary of the franchise and I think it's a really nice way to connect to the nostalgic factor, which is alive and well because of the 25-year reunion. That's what I'm so excited about, because I'm feeling rather nostalgic about the whole thing. 

I think the idea that Airbnb came up with to go back to the house in Withrow, California, and do a tour of the home where we shot the last 40 minutes of a movie is fun. But I'm the Online Experience part of it, so I'm the one hour that you sign up for. We talk, we chat about all things Scream, Q&A, and writing Scream, making my first movie, making my first movie with Wes Craven, and what that was like working with someone who was just an icon of mine from birth, or from childhood. Just going back to the house, going back down memory lane.

You mentioned Wes Craven being an icon for you and you have been so inspiring for so many folks, whether it be through your creative endeavors or your philanthropic work, you are an inspiration to many, that's why you have these fans who are so excited for this event. Whether it be now in 2021 or when you were coming up as a filmmaker, who would you have loved to have had this opportunity with? What filmmaker would you want to have picked their brain?

There's so many. I could start with Steven Spielberg and go down the list, but if we're talking in the horror realm, well, first of all, it came true. I got to pick the brain of Wes Craven. Not just that, I had a really long relationship and really great friendship. He was a mentor and friend to me and also a co-conspirator for many years. So I got my dream, my dream did come true. I would add on maybe John Carpenter to that. I would probably jump over to some writers that I respect and admire.

You have earned a lot of fans from Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Dawson's Creek, you have so many different fans from so many different arenas. Speaking specifically to Scream and all the fans you've interacted with over the years, what is the one question about Scream that you get asked the most?

I guess one of the questions is, "What scares you?" I get that question a lot or some version of that question. What's so funny, though, is Wes told me that that was his number one question whenever someone would ask him. The number one question asked, "What scares you?" It's like, I'm afraid of the dark just like anybody else. I'm afraid of things I can't see. I'm afraid of the unknown. I'm afraid of whatever this brain can conjure up, because that's really what it's about.

Since you have inspired fans and filmmakers and creatives to conjure their own stories, even to the lengths that fans come up with theories like, "Isn't it possible that Stu could've survived?" When fans come up to you with these crazy fan theories, do you think, "Wow, that's interesting. I hadn't thought about that before," or is it "My God, you have too much time on your hands. Where did you come up with this?"

Well, that has happened, where people are like, "Well, are they really dead? Do they have to be dead?" I think after the sequel, after Scream 2, I remember people took [Randy's death] very hard because, at the time, that was a beloved character, which, to me, is what keeps the franchise moving, is that it's real. If you kill someone you really love, it makes it personal for people. I remember people going, "He's not really dead, is he? He's not really dead. He's survived, didn't he?"

And he's dead?

Yeah, he's dead.

Just wanted to clarify, I don't want to add any fuel to the fan theories out there. Randy's dead. Sorry, everybody.

That's the one that, really, I get the most.

Every fan has their favorite moment or character or scene, so when you look back on your work in the franchise, what would you say is the thing you're most proud of? Whether it be a specific character or moment, or just the impact of the series?

My favorite moment is twofold. The opening originally started out, I wrote the movie very quickly, but what people don't know is that opening was, I wrote it as a one-act play. It was just a young character on the phone talking to us, but could it be a killer outside? That morphed into the opening scene to Scream. For a long time, I didn't have a career. I didn't know anybody. And I thought, "Well, maybe I can just shoot that as a short film." But when I decided to expand upon it and make it a screenplay, I thought that was like, "Oh, wow! This is going to turn into a movie. This is just how you do it." And I really got serious about it.

I'm very happy with the characters. Like Sidney Prescott, I love her. I'm very happy with Gale Weathers. I think she's an awesome character. And I say this in hindsight because I also know the actresses now playing the part, and so it brings even more joy. So Scream is probably the nearest and dearest.

You served as a producer on the upcoming Scream, and I don't want to get too ahead of the franchise, but did that experience rekindle your interest in the series and you could see yourself becoming a more active part of it going forward or did it feel more like a passing of the torch to other filmmakers to let them do what they think is right with it?

More to the latter, because I was very nervous about it. I was like, "How should I feel about this? They're making a new one." And they called me up and asked me to be a part of it. And I was like, "Hmm, I don't want one foot in. That could just hurt." And so I said no. Then I got a call from [writer] Jamie Vanderbilt and he was so in love with Scream 1, he was so in love with the franchise, he spoke from such a personal place. And then I met [directors] Radio Silence who made Ready or Not, which is like my favorite part of a bad year, and I just fell in love with them. They just had such heart, they put so much care into it. They were making it for personal reasons.

It felt good. It felt like it was in great hands and they're so talented. I was just there whenever they needed me and they kept me a part of it along the way. It just became a very special experience, so I was very happy. But it was a passing of the torch. I'm excited to see what other people think about it because I know the experience was blessed and awesome. I think Wes would be very happy and I think he would love these guys a lot because they speak his language. I just had a really great time. It was a lot of fun. Scream 1 had that heart and soul and we had such a blast making it and I felt they captured that.

Well I can't wait to see the new film and this Online Experience sounds like a really great opportunity for fans.

One other thing I wanted to say is I'm the Online Experience component of it and the audience, they can buy space where they actually can tour the house with David Arquette, who was Dewey Riley. So he'll take them through on the tour.


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You can head to airbnb.com/SecretsofSCREAM to request to book Williamson's Online Experience and head to airbnb.com/halloween to request to book a night in the house from the film's finale. The new Scream hits theaters on January 14, 2022.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.