As one the original Ghostfaces in the 90’s, Matthew Lillard is part of Scream’s’ DNA — but, although his role was limited to small cameos and easter eggs in the sequels, he was actually meant to play a much larger role in the third instalment of Wes Craven’s horror movie franchise.
The actor, who is also known for his family-friendly movie role as Shaggy in the live-action Scooby Do movies, revealed in a 2009 interview on the Pop My Culture podcast that he was meant to return as Stu Macher as the main villain of Scream 3 — albeit from a padded cell with a very burnt face. “So the idea was to have me […] orchestrating mayhem from prison, like with people attacking high schools,” he said.
However, the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 — which led to the deaths of 12 students and one teacher — led to drastic rewrites. “That was before Columbine,” Lillard noted. “It broke out six weeks before production, and they sacked the whole story, changed the whole thing.” This meant that the thriller had to come together quite quickly before its release in 2000.
“Six weeks out from production there was no script,” Ehren Kruger, the movie’s credited screenwriter, said in an interview with Slate. “There were notions, though.”
One such notion was the idea of a film-within-a-film, with the main events of Scream 3 taking place on the movie set of Stab 3: a fictionalised scary movie franchise within the Scream universe,which is based on the “real life” events that happened in 1996 – during the first Scream.
While Lillard’s character, Stu, was still referenced in Scream 3 — in the form of a sound archive heard on the set of fictionalised flick Stab 3 — the killer in this movie ended up being Stab 3’s director and repeated Ghostface survivor Sidney Prescott’s half brother, Roman Bridger. He was also revealed as being the former mentor of Stu’s co-conspirator Billy (Skeet Ulritch) and the architect behind all the killings in Scream 1 and 2.
Bridger’s legacy continued in Scream 4 as his cousin took on the moniker of Ghostface, but Lillard also delighted fans with a small cameo in the movie as a guest at the Stab-a-Thon.
The fifth Scream movie, simply titled Scream, was released in theatres on January 14. Check out our review of Scream 5 here, where, despite the film being fun, we argue that it just about misses the mark.