Credit: Krista Kennell/Sipa Press

In honor of the release of Scream 4 this Friday, EW is looking back at the original 1996 film and talking to cast members about their best production memories. Matthew Lillard played Stu Macher, who was ultimately revealed to be one of the film’s two killers, along with best bud Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). “It’s weird now that so much time has elapsed and we all know that it’s become iconic, like a piece of film history,” says the actor. EW talked to Lillard about reading the original script for the first time, filming the movie’s intense climax, and if he’s sad that his character didn’t make it to any of the sequels.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you remember reading the Scream script for the first time?

MATTHEW LILLARD: Yeah, you know I was staying at this house, a little kind of deserted, tiny, like one room shack, like a wood-slotted shack and read the opening sequence where Drew’s character gets murdered. It was so terrifying, like When a Stranger Calls. I distinctly remember going I don’t want to read this, it’s freaking me out. It had that kind of visceral impact on the first read. I remember closing the book and reading it the next day. I totally closed it and re-read it the next day.

Did you always wanna play Stu?

No, I originally went in for Billy. And so later on the same day I auditioned, they brought me back for Stu — that was the producer session with Wes [Craven]. I think from that point on it was kind of my part.

What are your most vivid memories of filming?

I guess my best memories were that last sequence in the house. It was three weeks and it was like it was every night, covered in blood, you’re running for your life. And that kind of adrenaline, it’s just so exhausting. I distinctly remember at some point, like Neve [Campbell] and Skeet and I were sitting in the same room and nobody would really talk. I remember the three of us with blood on your hands and it’s all tacky, it’s all paste. You get tacky and sticky and you sit there and you just start playing with the blood as if you’re in this weird trance.

The other thing about that movie which I think made it a really great experience for everyone is that no one really had the expectation or the normal trappings of Hollywood. We were all innocent, young, there for the right reasons, even Courteney [Cox] and her success. The energy of that, all of us, was really lovely. We went out to dinner almost every night, or every weekend we would hang out. There was something just really lovely about the experience because there were no expectations, there was no pressure. The way that Wes leads, he’s such a noble man.

Why does Scream have such loyal fans?

I think it’s legitimately scary. The opening sequence, where you’re killing Drew Barrymore, who is a huge star, that sets the bar and you don’t know what the hell is gonna happen next. It’s a pretty fantastic combination of things, that was well crafted but like, the master of horror.

Were you bummed at all that you got killed off now that it’s become this huge franchise?

I mean, not really. I like being the OG killer.

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