For most people, negotiating with one’s childhood monsters is to be avoided at all costs. For Jack Quaid, it’s part of the job. This month, the 29-year-old actor appears in Scream, latest installment of the famed ’90s-era slasher franchise that pioneered the particular brand of meta-sensibility that has become a hallmark of countless horror flicks that followed in its wake. The current installment, dubbed a “requel,” brings back the core cast of the original—including the likes of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette—while passing the torch on to a crop of new talents, a mantle that Quaid is proud to bear. Since his cinematic debut in The Hunger Games, the Los Angeles-born actor has honed his craft with roles as far-ranging as HBO’s Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese-backed series Vinyl to Amazon’s comic book adaptation The Boys. Scream marks Quaid’s first foray into the horror genre—a situation the self-professed “scaredy cat” never expected to find himself in—and proves that he’s got serious slasher chops, too. Below, Quaid chats with his former Vinyl co-star Juno Temple about Halloween trauma, character meditation, and the power of a good lucky charm.
TEMPLE: Okay, first and foremost, I’m obsessed with Scream. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a crazy horror movie fan. I think Scream is genius, and the fact that you got to work with the original cast—I’m so pumped for you.
JACK QUAID: I didn’t know that you were a horror buff!
TEMPLE: Big time. There are a lot of bad ones, but there are a lot of really great ones.
QUAID: And the really great ones are truly great movies. Not just great horror movies, but great movies.
TEMPLE: That’s what I mean! The writing and emotional connection between characters is brilliant. Are you a big horror fan yourself?
QUAID: Now I totally am. I was a big scaredy cat when I was growing up. But in my twenties, I started going to see them and really started to love them.
TEMPLE: So you get it now, the fear factor. How did the new Scream come into your world?
QUAID: It’s the only thing I’ve ever booked off of a taped audition. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t be in the room, which I prefer. It was nerve-racking, but I was thrilled when I got it. I actually have this weird history with the Scream franchise, in the sense that I think Scream is the reason why I was a scaredy cat in the first place, because when the first one was coming out in the late ’90s, I was just starting to trick or treat as a kid for Halloween, and I remember distinctly going out as a tiny child and seeing so many Ghostface costumes. They had this Ghostface mask back then that was see-through and could bleed.
TEMPLE: I remember that!
QUAID: Yeah, so the fact that I got to be in one of these movies considering it was my nightmare for so long…
TEMPLE: Imagine telling your little baby self, “Don’t panic, because one day you’re gonna be in one of the movies.”
QUAID: That’s probably one of the top reasons I’d go back in time—to go up to scared little Jack in his Buzz Lightyear costume and tell him, “It’s gonna be okay.” It was such a full-circle thing when I was making the movie. I was like, “This is so surreal.” And, like you said, working with the original people that made the franchise what it is.
TEMPLE: Did you grill them about making the original movies?
TEMPLE: I would fan-out hardcore. When did you guys shoot this?
QUAID: We shot in the middle of the pandemic.
TEMPLE: It must be interesting to shoot a scary movie when you’re kind of in lockdown, or in a bubble. Because you’re creating fear on a set, and then you have to be locked down. Did that trigger your imagination at all?
QUAID: Weirdly enough, even though it’s a movie about murder, I don’t think I’ve ever been more comfortable on a set. Since they tested us all of the time, I felt pretty secure in the fact that I didn’t have Covid, and that none of the people I was interacting with did either, so I felt really lucky that in the middle of this horrible time, I got to hang out with a group of cool people. We all stayed in the same hotel so it felt like summer camp. It was really soothing, strangely, to be part of the movie during that time.
TEMPLE: Yeah, that’s cool. When we were shooting in the UK for season two of Ted Lasso, a lot of the cast live in their homes in London, so you would shoot during the day and then you’d go home and you’d be quite isolated at night. I feel like if we had been shooting a horror movie I would have let my imagination go absolutely bananas. I would’ve been like, “Fuck! What was that creak? Someone’s in here! Oh shit! I’m gonna die!” Did you ever get genuinely frightened on set?
QUAID: I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that I have a few scenes in the movie with someone in the Ghostface costume, and it brought me right back to being a kid. But seeing an actual person in the costume, while shooting an actual Scream movie—being part of something that iconic—you’re simultaneously terrified and starstruck.
TEMPLE: What draws you to a role? Because when a script comes my way, sometimes I’ll start reading it and I’m like, “I just know that there’s somebody out there that will do this better than me.” I always want to have something that I know I can give to the role, something that I’m gonna leave behind that will be a positive thing for that character. Or something that I, as Juno, can take away that will make me become a more interesting, more fulfilled, interested person.
QUAID: I totally echo all of that. And I also feel like there needs to be a part of me that would be a fan of the project, regardless of whether or not I’d be in it. I like things that are self-aware. Like, The Boys takes superhero tropes and turns them on their head, and analyzes them. Scream does the same thing. So I’ve been lucky to be in projects that look at their genre and either poke fun at it or try to do something new with it.
TEMPLE: What’s your process for getting into character?
QUAID: Music helps me a lot. I make a playlist for every character. It’s a way, especially in the very early stages of figuring out a character, to try some different things. Like, “Does this song work for him? I like the song, but it doesn’t work for him.” I delete stuff off the playlist and add new things as we’re going. It helps me get into the character’s head: “What would this character listen to?”
TEMPLE: And what their rhythm would be.
QUAID: Absolutely. For my deeper work, it’s very backstory-heavy.
TEMPLE: Do you share that playlist with everybody? Or keep it to yourself?
QUAID: I keep it to myself. I’m of the mind that your process should never be anybody’s problem but yours. I try to piece together a backstory and then I meditate and try to put myself in that character’s shoes at, like, age six, or 21, or whatever. I go over those events in my head and try to live them through the character’s eyes. It helps a lot, honestly.
TEMPLE: You have history with them.
QUAID: Yeah. I think that we’re all just collections of experiences. But sometimes I have to shut all of that out and just get really practical with it. If I get kind of lost in the headiness, sometimes I just have to be like, “Okay, my character is washing his hands. Just wash your hands, man. Get over yourself.”
TEMPLE: [Laughs] Oh, that’s great.
QUAID: Do you do similar things?
TEMPLE: I have a thing where I buy perfume for each character I play. I think scent is really important for how a person walks into a room. Also, I buy a pair of knickers for every new character I play and I wear them on my first day. Or sometimes I have a thing where, if I’m really freaked out by a scene or dialogue, I’ll sleep with the pages of the lines that I have to know under my pillow the night before. I’ve convinced myself that the information will seep through my pillow at night.
QUAID: I’m stealing that, that’s awesome.
TEMPLE: Also, a big thing for me is how, as humans, we kind of know when it’s appropriate to fill up space in a room and when not to take up so much space. I think about when my character is supposed to be filling up the space in a scene, and when they’re supposed to be taking up as little space as possible. And I’m with you on music. I don’t do a full playlist, but I definitely have a song that goes with each character that I’ve played. I like to listen to songs on repeat, so I can get away with that. And ultimately, wardrobe and hair and makeup are such a big part of the process, too.
QUAID: Do you find that your personal wardrobe is influenced by the characters that you play? Because that happens to me all of the time.
TEMPLE: Yeah, but also, quite often, a lot of my personal wardrobe has been used for my characters.
QUAID: That’s amazing.
TEMPLE: I’m such a vintage hoarder. I’ve got lots of clothes that remind me of playing different characters.
QUAID: Did you keep any wardrobe from Vinyl?
TEMPLE: A lot of it. Actually, I’ve reused a couple of pieces in the show that I’m doing right now, because I’m back in the ’70s.
QUAID: Oh, hell yeah! I was so happy to get to know you while doing Vinyl.
TEMPLE: I agree! It was so wild that we were together on the day that we found out it was cancelled. It was like, “What the fuck just happened?” That was so devastating.
QUAID: I remember that day vividly. I was in my car on my way to a doctor’s appointment, and in the cast text thread all of a sudden one of the actors just wrote “NOOO” in all caps and I was like, “Oh no.” I googled our show, found out that way, went to the doctor’s appointment, then went straight to your place and we just had a little funeral for the show.
TEMPLE: Day drinking and mourning the death of a really awesome experience. That was a bummer. But it’s been so amazing to watch your career go off. You’ve made such brilliant choices.
QUAID: Thank you! And so have you.
TEMPLE: Do you write? Or do you have any interest in directing?
QUAID: I do write. I more or less got my start in sketch comedy. My dream right now, which I’m taking steps to make more of a reality, is to be in something that I’ve written. Directing gets more appealing to me as time goes on, but I want to slowly acclimate. I want to start writing, producing, and then get to a point where that could be possible. I assume you want to direct? I don’t know why I assume that, but I do.
TEMPLE: Well, at the moment I would say no, because right now I prefer to be in the dream world that is being projected by the director. But I am very interested in making notes on scripts with my character and asking the director to take some of my changes seriously. And that has been quite thrilling. As you get older and trust your life experience, you allow yourself to be a little braver with giving your insight and thoughts. But writing, personally, I wouldn’t know how to do that. I still write emo poetry rather than an actual script.
QUAID: I would love to see an entire movie full of your emo poetry.
TEMPLE: Just me reading my own emo poetry in different characters. [Laughs] People would run for the hills. But I can definitely see you directing. Is there a genre that you feel you haven’t stepped into?
QUAID: I wanna be in a Western so bad.
TEMPLE: Me too! It’s one of my biggest fantasies. Let’s find a Western to do together! I also want to know who some of your heroes are, as actors and directors, and who you’d love to work with in the future.
QUAID: The first name that came to my mind was Kevin Kline. At an early age I watched A Fish Called Wanda. His performance in that is so good. In other comedies the actors would be really outlandish and larger-than-life, and he very much is in that movie, but he’s also grounded and feels so real. The first person that came to mind for a director was Edgar Wright, because every single movie he’s ever made I’ve loved, and that’s not an overstatement.
TEMPLE: You’d be great in one of his movies.
QUAID: I remember seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with all of my nerdy friends when I was in high school, and I felt that feeling that some people, mostly serial killers, get where it’s like, “They’re speaking directly to me! I’m receiving the messages!”
TEMPLE: [Laughs] You know he does playlists for all of his movies, right?
QUAID: Yeah, I follow all of them on Spotify! I’m still listening to all of the music he chose for Last Night in SoHo. Do you have any dream directors? Or actors that are your heroes?
TEMPLE: I would really love to work with Tarantino. And the director who did Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols.
QUAID: I haven’t seen Take Shelter yet but I love Michael Shannon.
TEMPLE: So do I, he’s one of the actors I’d love to work with. And Amy Adams is a huge hero of mine. Also director-wise, Sean Baker is another one I’d love to work with. The Florida Project was, to me, one of the best films of the last 10 years.
QUAID: Let’s put all of that into the universe for you too, Juno. You would nail a Tarantino performance.
TEMPLE: I would die. The combination of the magical realism and the acting that he gets from people…
QUAID: I’m a sucker for magical realism.
TEMPLE: Me too. And I don’t know if you saw Queen and Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas, but it’s just beautiful. There are so many people that would be incredible to work with. That’s what’s so exciting about what’s going on right now.
QUAID: It is really cool, right? We’re definitely not in a talent drought.
TEMPLE: It’s also an exciting time because there’s so much TV happening. It’s an interesting experience being part of the TV world because people watch you in their living rooms so they feel very close to your character. I haven’t made a movie in a hot second, and I do miss it. Not that I’m not grateful for every minute of being part of TV, but there’s something about a movie where you have a beginning, middle, and end—a little life that you get to portray. TV is exciting in a different way. Every time a season ends, you still don’t know what will happen, or maybe there will be no resolution, because it won’t continue. There’s an unknown-ness.
QUAID: There are pros and cons to both. By the way, I was at a Halloween party and I saw not one but two people dressed as you from Ted Lasso. I was like, “There are two Junos up in here!”
TEMPLE: [Laughs] I love that!
QUAID: And they both had an accompanying Roy Kent, which was incredible.
Studio Photoshoots > Photoshoots from 2022 > Set #002