Jack Quaid Says the Scream Cast ‘Never Knew’ the Killer’s Identity: ‘We Had Different Scripts’

Scream star Jack Quaid opens up to PEOPLE about making the new film and its super-secretive filming process.

Jack Quaid was just 4 years old when the original Scream movie came out in 1996. He was too young to see Wes Craven’s classic horror at the time, but he did become very familiar with the film’s masked killer that Halloween. “I trick-or-treated for the first time that year and every other kid on the block was wearing a Ghostface costume,” Quaid, 29, recalls to PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “One had a translucent mask with a little pump that fed fake blood down it. It totally traumatized me!”

Now, 25 years later, Quaid is channeling that fear with a role in the latest Scream installment, and scaring up a whole new generation of fans in the process. The irony is not lost on him. “If you were to tell that 4-year-old kid he’d be in a Scream movie one day, it would be really surreal,” he says. Below, the actor open up about joining the Scream franchise, working with its iconic cast, and the secretive filming process.

PEOPLE: So Ghostface terrified you as a kid. When did you come around to actually watching a Scream film?
I was a scaredy-cat as a kid but into my teenage years, I started watching more horror films. I would start with stuff like Shaun of the Dead — funny, but also a little scary. And then Scream came along and it was amazing. It’s this gateway drug to the horror genre. It’s such a good movie in its own right, but then it references all these other different films that you just want to watch. So then I started watching stuff like, Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Town that Dreaded Sundown — all of the movies reference you want to go watch because Scream’s such an amazing movie.

How was filming with Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette?
Intimidating at first because I respect them so much, but they are the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. They didn’t need to welcome us the way they did. Courteney and Neve invited us out to dinner, and David — he’s a certified Bob Ross painting instructor, so he taught us how to paint. They were the coolest.

Did they give you any advice on how to approach your role?
Not really. They just wanted to encourage us to really take in this moment and just have as much fun as possible, because the Scream movies inherently are fun They’re rollercoaster rides, so they wanted to make sure that we were having a good time no matter what. And we did.

You shot the movie during the height of the pandemic, right?
Yes, which is crazy.

That must have bought you all so close.
It did. It’s a cliché and everybody says this, but we really did become a family. To go from not seeing anyone I cared about for a while, being isolated, to all of a sudden getting to interact with not just the main three but all these other new cast members as well? It was great. We were all being tested all the time so we could hang out and do stuff. It was this amazing summer camp. It was a love fest, even though it’s a movie ostensibly about murder.

The Scream movies are known for being meta slasher Whodunits. When did you find out who the killer was?
I never knew at any given time. We figured it out eventually but in the beginning, we all had different scripts. In some, certain character died. In others, they didn’t; this person was the killer in this script, in others, they weren’t. So we all had our theories. We were getting to know each other but were also like, “You’re a bit suspicious…”

And how does that impact your acting choices? Because you don’t know whether you’re the victim or the villain…
They made sure to get as many options as possible [from us]. Like, “Do one line a little bit more nefarious, do one line a little more goody two shoes.” That’s the way I like to work anyway. I like to throw as much onto the screen as possible so that later the editor can pick the best take. Because sometimes you lock yourself into one way of doing it and it works on the day, you think, and then you watch it later and you’re like, “Oh it didn’t work. I wish I did something else there!” So I got along well with the directors. We had a good time with it.

All in all, how does it feel to be part of this franchise?
It’s so cool. I still can’t believe that I got to be a part of this amazing franchise. It’s… I don’t know. You grow up, you dream of doing really cool things and being in projects that you care about and all the planets aligned with this one. I loved everybody that I worked with, the material was great, I loved my character. I just owe a debt of gratitude to [directors] Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and [their collective of filmmakers] Radio Silence for having me onboard. This movie means so much to me and I’m still pinching myself that I’m involved.

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