'Fear Street' star Gillian Jacobs and director Leigh Janiak join more of the cast to talk about the Netflix trilogy.
Director Leigh Janiak and stars Gillian Jacobs, Kiana Madeira, and Olivia Welch talk about the horror movie trilogy on Netflix.
An adaptation of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books has premiered on Netflix as a trilogy of movies; 'Fear Street Part One: 1994,' 'Fear Street Part Two: 1978,' and 'Fear Street Part Three: 1666.' All three of these movies have been directed by Leigh Janiak, and cast members across all three movies include Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, and Darrell Britt-Gibson. The cast and the director recently sat down with us to talk about the movie trilogy.
First up, Leigh Janiak talks about making the trilogy.
Moviefone: I have been looking forward to talking with you and I know we're not going to have anywhere near enough time for everything I want to know. Okay. So start off, why make a trilogy? Did you ever talk about it being a series?
Leigh Janiak: For sure. So my producer, Peter Chernin had this idea that he wanted to release a trilogy all in the same year. That was his jumping off point. That was the jumping off point that they approached me with. And then I thought that sounded awesome.
I was also like, "How do we do this? Why do we do this?" I think traditionally, with a trilogy, you get to have that time period where audiences are just hungry for more of the same world. So with this, when we knew we were going to be releasing it very close together, it was how do we do this?
And that I think ended up lying in this hybrid between movie and what is traditionally television and creating this new type of content and experience. So, there was always discussion of what are we doing here? And then it was us free ourselves from labels and live in this new space where the narrative is guiding us.
MF: So then, how did you attack the R.L. Stine Fear books to adapt into these movies?
Janiak: That was also very daunting because there are hundreds of those books. They're amazing. As a fan, I was like, "What are we doing here? How are we going to do this? There's so many of them." And basically what we ended up doing was looking back and saying, "How do we preserve the spirit of these books and what we all love in them?"
The subversive nature of it, the fun of them. And then also let us have a mythology that makes sense for this three movie structure. And so that's what we did. We chose things that we were going to keep nodding to, the Goode family, the Fear family, which exists in the Fear Street sagas a lot. And then still do something new and preserve the fun of the books the whole way.
MF: So you ended up with these three movies, all in different time periods. What was your visual style to blend all three movies together?
Janiak: That was interesting because it was like, "What do we do? How do we make these movies feel different and be real to the era that they're depicting and that they're supposed to take place in?" So there was a lot of discussion of the movies of those times and how do we want the visual approach to evolve? And do we need something that's the same across all three? And what we ended up doing was the thing that was the unifying element was our characters.
And so we were allowed to change the world that we're living in as far as color and camera and style, but our characters are always still grounded in their reality and carrying us through emotionally. So, yeah.
MF: Were there specific horror movie tropes that you wanted to avoid?
Janiak: Yeah, I think the biggest one was just having it be a bunch of straight white people. I think that that was the biggest trope that I was like, "We can do something else here." We have an opportunity with this world of Shadyside that is about people who have been victim of oppression for generations and have felt like they were other and marginalized based on race or sexuality or socioeconomic status and give them their moment and say that this is true to what the world is. So why shouldn't they be in these horror movies too? And why shouldn't they live past 15 minutes?
MF: So I think that's the great message of this movie. So it's fun, and it's a horror movie, but there's great messaging. And so what great message were you really trying to get across?
Janiak: I think that's exactly. It was that there's a world where people can survive and live in these horror movies and deserve their moment in the sun, outside of what we traditionally see.
Next up, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, and Benjamin Flores Jr. talked about their characters.
Moviefone: Kiana, What is the relationship between Deena and Sam?
Kiana Madeira: The relationship between Deena and Sam is the heart of the entire trilogy. They love each other, and they're willing to do anything and everything to fight for each other and to be together. And I think that's really what drives the entire story forward.
MF: Olivia, are you a fan of horror movies?
Olivia Scott Welch: Yeah, I'm a huge fan. I am a huge, huge fan of horror movies. It's always been my favorite genre, and I've seen so many of them. And so it was very exciting to be part of this.
MF: I just want to know. I know it's acting, and I know there's lots of people on sets, but is there ever a time when you're filming these scary movies that it's actually scary to you?
Madeira: Yeah, I think sometimes when, we were just saying earlier, that it's really funny because all of the stunt performers and stuff, everyone's friends. And we're all friends, and everyone can goof around and stuff. But then sometimes when they call action, and you got yourself hyped up. And then someone starts running at you with an ax. You're like, "Ah. Oh no." Your brain takes over and is like, "You need to get out of here." And then they call cut, and then Lloyd would take off his mask and be like, "Great job."
MF: I've always wondered about that. Benji, now Josh, he's like the superhero. He is the one who saves the day, and I love him. I love his personality. So describe Josh for me.
Benjamin Flores Jr.: Josh is basically a loner, typical loner guy, but it's really more than that. He just really is trying to figure out who he is. What does he want to do? What's his purpose? What's he really like? Who does he like? And as he's trying to find that, he dives into a lot of different things, a lot of conspiracies, a whole bunch of things, video games. But these conspiracies really start to hold over him as they start to make more sense. And as he starts to piece the puzzle together, he starts realizing like, wait a minute, these might not just be conspiracies. I might actually be into something. And that basically just leads to the journey we all go on to try to stop the curse in Shadyside. And through that process, Josh finds itself along the way. He starts off as this loner guy, just not very talkative, but then he, through the movie, builds a personality up.
MF: All three of you could play characters in two of the different movies in different time periods. What's the preparation for that like?
Madeira: We all worked with a dialect coach to play our characters in 1666. She was amazing. Her name's Charlotte Fleck. And from the very beginning of when we started filming, even the 1994 movie, we would have private coachings on the weekends over Zoom. So we were able to really get dipped into our characters even way before, months before, we started filming the 1600s movie, which I think really helped us, one, learn our lines because we were constantly working on the dialect, and also feel connected to these characters in a way where we didn't have to put on the accent. It was really just part of the world. And I think that really helped us a lot.
Gillian Jacobs, Ashley Zukerman, and Darrell Britt-Gibson talk about how their characters fit in to the story.
Moviefone: Gillian, how is C. Berman living in 1994?
Gillian Jacobs: When we first meet this character, she is living by herself. It's really her and her dog. She has a pretty solitary existence, but she really goes on a journey over the course of these three films. So it'd be amazing for audiences to see the journey that all of these characters go on. And my character is just one of them.
MF: How close to the Fear Street books is this trilogy and are you a fan of R.L. Stine?
Jacobs: I read R.L. Stine growing up. I read Fear Street growing up. So for me, this has the essence of Fear Street without being a literal adaptation of any one book. So I thought Leigh, our director, did an amazing job of making it feel entirely familiar to someone like me, who grew up reading it, but it's also a unique story told in three parts.
MF: Ashley, a running theme through the movie is like good versus bad, the haves and the have-nots. So where does sheriff Nick Good kind of fit in, in this story?
Ashley Zukerman: I think what we learned is that he's someone who has been the beneficiary of being on the good side of the tracks, of growing up in Sunnyvale, and hasn't ever really engaged with the question of what it is he's benefited from. And I think one of the questions that, hopefully, he will get asked as the films progress, is will he come to terms with that, and what might he do when he does?
MF: Okay. Darrell, I feel like I want to know so much more about Martin than I do. Tell me about Martin, and did you create any backstory for him? Because, I want to know more.
Darrell Britt-Gibson: Leigh and I came up with a couple of different variations of a backstory for Martin. He has a bit of a nomadic sort of energy to him, so I think he just ended up in Shadyside. He's a fun character because he sort of sees what's happening as an audience is seeing it happen, because he does not have the backstory and the history of the town and the people that everyone else does. So I think it's really interesting that the way that he views everything that's happening and how wild everything is in this town. I also wonder, he maybe wishes that he went like more town, two more towns over, because they're crazy in Sunnyvale and Shadyside.
MF: They are absolutely crazy. Darrell, I know it's acting, but they are very scary movies. Is there ever a time, onset when you're filming, that ever actually feels scary?
Britt-Gibson: It's so funny when you see that the films are so scary, but we laughed on set more than any other set I can remember being on. I think that, that's just a testament to Leigh creating this environment that is, we are making this very scary thing, but it's also like, real life is fun. And the cast is so awesome. And so it just created this sort of environment where we all just had so much fun and we all enjoyed each other in a genuine way, which is so special, especially in this industry where that sometimes that's not the case.
Finally, Sadie Sink talks about the second part of the trilogy, set in 1978.
Moviefone: What's the Shadyside Myth?
Sadie Sink: Yeah. The Shadyside Myth. Basically, so there's a town called Shadyside, there's a town called Sunnyvale. And good things always happen in Sunnyvale, bad things always happen in Shadyside, to say the least. And Shadysiders have started to believe that there's a curse that is cursing their land, that dates back all the way to 1666 from a witch named Sarah Fier. Some people think it's a bunch of nonsense, some people think it's real. And over the course of the three movies, you start to see that there's a little bit of truth to this Shadyside curse.
MF: Which takes us to Camp Nightwing because these kids from these two towns congregate there and it just mimics what goes on all year long.
Sink: Pretty much. So Camp Nightwing, that's where the second movie takes place, and it's in 1978. So it was super fun to film. Yeah. You've got your Sunnyvalers, you've got your Shadysiders, and the divide between the two of them is very clear and there's definitely this very intense rivalry between the two towns, which is really fun to see play out. But yeah, I mean, really, it was fun seeing all the Shadysiders and the Sunnyvalers and just that really intense rivalry between the two.
MF: It took me back to the many horror movies, maybe from the '70s, that took place at camp. It's like a horror movie trope.
Sink: Yeah, totally. Definitely, there's a lot of inspiration taken from those classic '70s slasher films.
MF: What was the preparation like for you for this movie? Did you do a lot of these stunts yourself?
Sink: I didn't realize how many stunts I would have to do. And then I think on my first or second day, then I realized that it would be very physical. But yeah, I knew there'd be a lot of running and stuff. So I prepped for that and just built up that stamina. And as I started filming, it just got easier and easier, and I really started to enjoy those stunt-heavy scenes.
MF: I love Ziggy. I mean, I think she has just this great personality. Can you describe her for me?
Sink: She's pretty aggressive. She's not everyone's cup of tea, I guess. She's a little bit standoffish at times. She's considered a little bit of an outsider. She's definitely an easy target by some of the crueler Sunnyvalers. But she doesn't really take it from anyone. And she's wise beyond her years, and she's had to mature a lot faster. And I think just at the heart of it, she really just wants to be seen and understood. She wants people to listen to her. She wants her sister to listen to her. Yeah. So it was really a pleasure of being able to play her.
MF: She also develops a summer romance there at camp.
Sink: Yeah, she does. So she develops a little bit of a crush on an older camp counselor, which makes sense for her.
MF: From the wrong town, I might add.
Sink: From the wrong town. I mean, she's going to do the opposite of what people tell her she should do. So she gets herself into a little bit of a situation there. And I think that's just at first, she's very against it. And then once Nick starts to bond with her and see her in a way that no one else has been able to see her that entire summer, or maybe in her entire life, she's really drawn to him. So it's nice to see that compassion in her and play with those lighter sides of Ziggy.
The 'Fear Street' trilogy is now streaming on Netflix.