Chatting with Wes Craven -- The ''Scream'' director tells us about his new film ''Red Eye''

In the thrille Red Eye (opening Aug. 19), Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins) takes Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers) hostage on a Dallas-to-Miami flight. Director Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street), 66, called on the way to Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where he was preparing to toss out the first pitch. So that explains Freddy Krueger’s knuckleball!

Red Eye is being called your first non-horror thriller. But really, what’s the difference?

There’s a lot more restraint in the actual physical violence in this — it’s really much more about emotional scars than flesh scars. That doesn’t happen in horror films where you’re knocking off a teenager every 10 minutes. [Pauses. Chuckles.] Which I love to do!

What challenges did you face shooting on a cramped airplane set for six weeks?

It had the same dimensions as a real 767, so everybody felt they were really on a plane. But when we left, nobody went back to visit. Let’s put it that way. It’s like when you get off a long flight, you never want to see that particular plane again.

How did it smell after six weeks?

[Laughs] We had 60 to 80 extras, and some were wearing the same clothes for a month or longer. They were great, but we encouraged everybody to take showers.

The movie deals with violence on an airplane and, later, the attempted assassination of the Homeland Security chief. Don’t you think that’s risky?

It was written [by Carl Ellsworth] in this day and age for this day and age. And everybody that we had to depend on to allow us to shoot in their airports understood exactly that this is a picture about now, not then.

Robert Evans had a stroke while you and he were having drinks in 1998. And Rachel McAdams got badly bruised when she accidentally ran into a door on Red Eye. Do you ever feel like, try as you might to set your knack for horror aside, it keeps haunting you?

[Big laugh] Any time you have people on a set doing stunts and running around, there’s that potential. But [with McAdams], boy, it sure hit us there for a moment. We were all quite scared. It knocked her flat on her back there for a second. But she was all right. She was a real trouper.