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[The following interview contains spoilers for the Fear Street trilogy.]
Olivia Scott Welch is an ardent fan of old-school horror movies, but she’s awfully proud of the Fear Street trilogy’s modern take on the genre’s most prominent tropes. In Fear Street Part One, Two and Three, Welch plays Sam, whose romance with Kiana Madeira’s Deena is the crux of the entire trilogy. But anyone who’s halfway familiar with horror movies, especially of the slasher variety, knows that love stories have a paltry survival rate. So as a student of the genre, Welch was somewhat surprised when she learned that Sam and Deena would have a celebratory Burger King Whopper at the conclusion of Fear Street Part Three: 1666.
“I thought it was really cool that Sam got to survive. And since Deena is the ultimate final girl of the trilogy, I thought it was special for Deena to get to continue on with her relationship,” Welch tells The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s this queer story in the center of these movies, and neither of them get killed off in a trope-y way. They both get to survive, and our true heroine and final girl of the trilogy [Deena] gets to actually have a happy ending and finish out her love story. So I thought that was really special.”
At the end of Fear Street Part One: 1994, Deena had no choice but to drown Sam in order to get rid of the Shadyside Killers’ evil spirits. From there, Sam was brought back to life through a combination of EpiPens and CPR, but as Welch played dead on the grocery store floor, she, too, recognized the similarities to one of 1994’s most celebrated films.
“I thought about Pulp Fiction a lot. I was like, ‘This is my Pulp Fiction moment,'” Welch says. “[Uma Thurman] on the lawn and then the rug. And me on this grocery store floor. They’re kind of the same. They’re cinematic parallels, if you might say.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Welch also looks back at her most memorable day as Hannah Miller, her second character in the 1666 timeline. She then shares her fondness for the Scream franchise and how her dream nearly came true when she auditioned for Scream (2022).
So did you put yourself on tape for Fear Street, initially?
No, I actually went into a real casting office, which hasn’t happened in such a long time. But Carmen Cuba cast the movies, and she’s an incredible casting director that I already respected and admired. So I got to have a real-life meeting with her, and my movie nerd self was a little star-struck. We did real in-person auditions, and I auditioned a few times with her. And then I flew to New York to do a screen test with Kiana [Madeira], [director] Leigh [Janiak], and a few other people. So that was the audition process.
There was a Sam and Deena audition involving you, Kiana and four other actors vying for those roles, right?
Yeah, that was our screen test, but it was also our chemistry read. And chemistry reads are the weirdest part of the audition process because whoever is being considered for each role is there together. (Laughs.) So you’re like, “Well, there’s three girls here to play Sam. One of us will book it and the other two will not.” And then you read with all the others. So I read both of my scenes with the three actresses auditioning for Deena. And then Kiana and I went into the room together, and Leigh kept us in the room for a long time. We did different variations of our scenes, and she gave us really specific notes and ways to change it up. So Leigh was kind of doing mock scene direction that we would do on set. She was having us do different coverage of the scenes, so it was a really interesting way of going about a chemistry read.
Did you have to read as 1666‘s Hannah Miller, too?
Yeah, I had two scenes; one was Sam and the other was Hannah. So we did weird little British accents originally for the auditions because they wanted to see if we could just do the dialogue in an accent. So I definitely had one scene for Sam and one for Hannah.
Did you read real scenes from both films? Or were they fake sides?
I think we got real scenes. For 1994, it was the scene under the bleachers where Sam is introduced and Deena and her get in their fight. And for 1666, I believe it was the scene where Sarah Fier [Madeira] comes and finds Hannah in the meeting house, post-being beaten up and chained. And she says her iconic line of, “If they want a witch, I will give them a witch.”
So you were born at the tail end of the ’90s, but at least 1994 allowed you to act in history’s greatest decade. Was there an aspect from the ’90s sets that you appreciated most?
I think so much about 1994 because I grew up watching a lot of ’90s movies that my parents were big fans of. My mom has a younger brother who was in college when I was born, and he showed me a lot of movies from his childhood. So even before the ’90s resurgence, I was ahead of my time, if you will. So I really love the ’90s, and every day on set, I was like, “This is so cool. We are living in the ’90s, and I’ve always wanted to live in the ’90s.” The grocery store set, specifically, was so incredible. It’s such a fun sequence, but everything in the grocery store was period accurate to 1994. So all of the cereal boxes were ’90s cereal boxes and so on and so forth. It was a really immersive ’90s set, and in between setups, I would walk around and look at all of the very detailed props. So that was my favorite time during filming.
Which ’90s needle drop do you prefer most?
Ooh! My favorite ’90s needle drop is something I’ve thought about a lot. I think it’s the Cypress Hill song [“Insane in the Brain”] when Deena does the finger guns to the head and then the song kicks in. I just love the timing of it. I’m such a fan of very synced-up music cues in movies. That’s something fun that I just really love, and that one is a great needle drop in 1994.
Was spitting blood on Fred Hechinger’s T-shirt harder than it looks?
(Laugh.) That was very fun, and Fred was having a lot of fun with it. Leigh recorded the monitor of me spitting up blood, and there were some takes where I spit up so much blood. We weren’t sure what type of comedy level we were playing it for, so there was so much blood in some takes.
How did they pull off the nose bleeds on set?
Oh, those were crazy. There’s some CGI in postproduction to keep it consistent, but the foundation of it was very practical. Basically, I would just tilt my head back, and Ellen [Arden], who was my wonderful makeup artist, would come over with a squeeze bottle of blood and just put some in my nose. So I would just hold it there until they called action, and then I would throw my head down so it would just start to fall. It was very old school and how nosebleeds were always done.
Did they want you guys screaming all that much on set? Did they save most of the screams for ADR so you didn’t lose your voice and throw off production?
Oh, that’s a good question. I feel like we did do a fair amount of screaming, as there were some screams that they wanted for real. Julia Rehwald had the first big scream in the hospital sequence. Fred has the line, “Did they get back together?” and then she screamed really loud. And then I did another scream in the hospital sequence. But a lot of it, we would kind of just do. We did do some screams in ADR, but Leigh didn’t put a lot of pressure on us to be big dramatic screamers either. She wanted the movies to feel very realistic, even though they’re heightened and nostalgic. So she was very specific about when she wanted a scream, but we didn’t have the pressure on us to do these big library screams all of the time.
Did you feel like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction when Sam was being shot up with adrenaline?
(Laughs.) I did! I thought about Pulp Fiction a lot. I was like, “This is my Pulp Fiction moment.” Her on the lawn and then the rug. And me on this grocery store floor. They’re kind of the same. They’re cinematic parallels, if you might say.
So I heard you watched Possession (1981) to prep for Sam’s possession. What was your ultimate takeaway?
It’s such a slow-burn possession in that movie, and Isabelle Adjani is an incredible actress. She’s one of my favorite actresses, and she’s so scary in that movie. She manipulates her face in the most incredible way, and of course, the subway scene from Possession is so iconic. It’s one of the most horrific scenes ever captured in a movie, I think. And that was such a masterclass in doing such off-the-wall and vulnerable physical acting. So that was something I really took away, but mostly, it’s the way she can truly just manipulate her face. And it’s through a way that’s not, like, “I’m making a face.” It’s very authentic acting, but she is doing so much visually. So I knew that it needed to be scary, and I just took so much away from her performance, in general. It was so educational to watch.
So for the next actor who has to pretend like they’re possessed, what advice would you give them?
I would say that they should have a talk with their director about what the goal of the possession is. That was something that Leigh and I talked about before we started filming and also throughout filming. We tried to collaborate on what type of possessed we wanted Sam to be. While doing the possession, I thought, “Possession has been done, and it would be easy to just ape possession scenes from scary movies that were successful.” But I remember being like, “I also have been playing Sam as a human girl.” So what does possession mean for a human that you know and love? What does it mean for that person to become possessed and turn evil? What stays and what goes? So I thought about that sort of thing.
How long was the gap between the grocery store scene and the 1994 cast reuniting in 1666 as different characters?
It wasn’t very long. We filmed 1994 first, 1666 second, and then they filmed 1978. So the gap was only like a week or something. There would be times where Fred and Julia would leave Atlanta and go home for a week or two, but it was never a super, super long gap. We were all kind of together until we all picture-wrapped, which is something that was very special about these movies. It was also by accident because our schedules were just what was best and most convenient for the whole production. So we really, truly got to be together for most of filming, which was really cool.
The trilogy subverted many genre tropes as Deena and Sam both lived. Usually, the other half of a relationship is all but guaranteed to die in horror/slasher movies. Since you know how this genre works, were you surprised at first that Sam also received a happy ending?
A little. Deena is such a strong final girl on her own, and she truly is the savior of the day. She’s the true heroine of the trilogy, and she is the true final girl. But I thought it was really cool that Sam got to survive. And since Deena is the ultimate final girl of the trilogy, I thought it was special for Deena to get to continue on with her relationship. There’s this queer story in the center of these movies, and neither of them get killed off in a trope-y way. They both get to survive, and our true heroine and final girl of the trilogy gets to actually have a happy ending and finish out her love story. So I thought that was really special.
Did you shoot the cheeseburger scene last?
It was one of our very last things. Our very last thing that we filmed was when Deena and Sam left the cave system and crawled into Nick Goode’s [Ashley Zukerman] house. The caves were on a soundstage, and they were hand-carved and created by this wonderful and very talented group of human beings. So our last sequence was filming in the cave. But the burger scene was one of the last things that we filmed, and it definitely felt like we were nearing the end of our time as the 1994 cast. And it was the last scene we filmed before we all had a week off. They just gave everybody a break because we’d been filming so long, and the rest of the crew was going to go do 1978. So it was nice because we got to film that scene, and then everybody wrapped for the week. It was very cute and sweet.
I loved how Deena and Sam gave Nick Goode one last middle finger by leaving muddy footprints on his pristine white carpet.
(Laughs.) Yeah, that was great. That house was so crazy and so pristine. They were like, “You need to be the stain on his existence,” and we were like, “Good.”
I have to admit that I was somewhat bewildered by the Burger King choice in the cheeseburgers scene. If you had your druthers, what burger chain would you have picked?
(Laughs.) Shake Shack is my favorite fast food burger.
Yeah, I love Shake Shack. Shake Shack definitely is my fast food burger of choice.
What was the most memorable day as Hannah Miller in 1666?
I feel like I didn’t have too many days on 1666 because a lot of that part is Kiana and Ashley doing their own, very horrific stuff. The first day that we filmed was really fun, and 1666 was kind of in chronological order, I would say. My first day filming was the opening, where everyone in town says, “A full moon rises before nightfall.” So it was really fun because we’d just do these very sweet scenes. And I also got to meet Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye and Sadie Sink that day. They’re part of the 1978 cast, so it was really fun to meet them, talk about the movies and kind of pass the baton in that way. They are three really, really wonderful humans and actors, so it was cool to integrate new people into the group and be excited to see them make their movie.
I was quite fond of the natural light in Sarah Fier’s hanging scene.
Yeah, that scene was so crazy and heartbreaking, and it was a lot of natural light. Everyone took it very, very seriously, which was cool. There are so many background actors in that scene, and everyone treated that sequence with such respect. Kiana gave so much on the day that we filmed, and she did that monologue in so many different ways. So it was a very respectful environment.
What scene kept you up at night the most?
For the emotional elements of it, it was the scene where Sam is right about to overdose at the grocery store. Sam was talking about, “What if we kill me?” As a human, I had never thought about death that much and what it means to die. So I wondered what it would be like to be sitting with your friends, while also thinking, “I am going to die minutes from now.” So early on, I thought about the repercussions of that situation in order to prep for that moment. But that was the one that kept me up the most.
Justin Theroux recently told me some stories about the business card scene in American Psycho, and I’m mentioning this as a lead-in to your own affinity for that movie.
Oh my gosh. Yes, I love American Psycho. It’s one of my favorite movies. I think Mary Harron is a genius and an incredible, incredible director. I think that movie is so sharp and just incredible. She made a true movie. McCabe Slye, who plays Tommy/Mad Thomas, is one of my best friends in life now, and when we first met on 1666, we somehow started talking about American Psycho. And we both realized that we have a deep appreciation and love for American Psycho, so we would just talk about American Psycho all the time and how good it is. We even re-created the morning routine monologue, together. He filmed it and narrated it, and I’m really dirty, as Hannah, washing my face and stuff. We did it just for us so I don’t know if that video will ever go anywhere. Maybe it will. But we fully re-created the opening monologue, shot-for-shot, from American Psycho, and now we have matching American Psycho tattoos. Mine says “bone” and his says “meat” from the crossword scene. I think my name in his phone is Paul Allen or something. It’s a really extensive bit that has no end to it.
So what’s the dream horror franchise that you’d love to get involved with at some point?
Oh man, that’s such a good question. I have a lot of love for all of the Scream movies. It’s one of the first scary movies I saw, and I just think they’re all so funny and so sharp. And I love them all, even the third one, which most people don’t like. But I think it’s got its great moments. I also love the fourth one and think it’s underrated. Ryan Simpkins [1978‘s Alice] and I are going to see the first and second one together soon, so I’m very excited for that day.
There’s a new Scream movie coming out in January 2022, and since they’ll probably make more, that dream isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I know! I’m very excited for that movie, too. Matt [Bettinelli-Olpin] and Tyler [Gillett] made Ready Or Not, which was one of my favorite horror movies in recent history. So when I found out that they were doing the new Scream, I was very excited, and I think they’ll do a great job.
I’m surprised you didn’t read for that …
Oh believe me I did. I did read for Scream 5.
So you know stuff.
I don’t know. I feel like my sides were very vague, which is warranted. I’m like, “It’s Scream. They can’t tell me what’s going on.” But yeah, I read for that. I was like, “Because I love it so much, I know that I won’t book this.” But I’m excited that it got made, and I think they’ll do a really great job.
And outside of horror, what are you dreaming about doing someday, be it a genre or type of role?
For the movies and performances that I really love, it’s a thing where I’m like, “I don’t even know what category this is in.” And the auditions that I’ve gotten and feel very excited for are always a surprise. So I’m excited to be surprised by whatever comes my way because I truly don’t know. I felt very passionate about doing something really cool in horror, so I would love to continue to do that. But outside of that realm, I’m just excited to see what will come around. It’s a very vague and not great answer, but I truly don’t know.
Lastly, I know this is rather “inside baseball,” but I noticed that you recently added “Scott” to your name. Out of curiosity, does an addition like this require a ton of paperwork, as well as meetings with your team?
This is a great, great question because I was wondering about this, too. But it was actually pretty easy. I emailed everybody one day and was like, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this.” And then I got an email back that was like, “Yeah, here’s the SAG extension. Just send them an email.” (Laughs.) And I was like, “Sounds good.” So I filled out a very brief sheet of paperwork from SAG, and because of COVID, I just emailed and scanned it in. And then one day, I got on my SAG account, and it was like, “Your name has been officially changed.” And I was like, “This was a very painless process.” At least it was for me.
That extra syllable really does add something. Perhaps Kristin Scott Thomas helped create that effect.
Exactly. Yeah, I love Kristin Scott Thomas. I was like, “Maybe one day we’ll meet and we’ll gab about how we have the same middle name.”
Before we wrap, we should mention your new show, Panic.
What should I say about Panic? It’s on Amazon Prime Video. You should watch it. It’s a really wild ride, and there’s a tiger in it. (Laughs.)
A tiger is the only selling point you need.
The people need to know.
The Fear Street trilogy is now streaming on Netflix. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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