Kevin Williamson, the creator behind Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries, closed out EW PopFest on Sunday with an emotional tribute to the late filmmaker Wes Craven, who gave Williamson his first writing gig: Scream.
Williamson reflected on the legacy of the 1996 horror satire that reinvented the genre. “It’s a moment in time,” he said. “Everyone wanted a resurgence of horror films. I really wrote the lightning in a bottle. I wish I could say it was all this genius master plan. But it wasn’t. It was just me, a struggling writer trying to make it, and I — for the love of God — stumbled upon Wes Craven, who … wanted to make it.”
Williamson paused, as he broke down in tears. “Oh God, it’s a little too soon,” Williamson said as the crowd applauded in support. “He took a chance on me. It’s 20 years, guys, and I’m sitting back going, ‘How the hell did I get so old?’ I look back on this film and it’s so full of memories. It’s full of the beginning of my career. I can’t watch it without thinking of the memories.”
He added, “I’m very, very grateful I got to start my career this way. I’m a blessed man. There’s just no way around it.”
Williamson, 51, was on hand at Entertainment Weekly’s pop culture festival to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. Craven, who directed Scream, died in 2015.
When Williamson began writing the screenplay, his goal was to make a new kind of slasher film. “I wanted to make a horror movie that wasn’t out there,” he said. “There wasn’t much care to horror films. I wanted to do something different.”
He recalled first meeting Craven for lunch on the Paramount lot. “I was in a daze,” he said. “Every dream was coming true… then he summoned me to his house with his notes. That’s when I got nervous.”
But Williamson needn’t have worried. “He was like an English professor. When we’d go out, he was the wallflower, a gentle soul, sweet. The direct opposite of what you would think of the man who created Freddy Krueger.”
Their collaboration continued even after filming started. “Most writers get kicked to the curb when shooting begins,” said Williamson. “Wes didn’t do that. He let me be part of the process. When I asked him a question, he would thoughtfully respond. When I look back on it, I hope I didn’t take it for granted. I don’t think I did.”