Kevin Williamson rose to prominence thanks to the rampant popularity of his still-scary script for 1996's Scream.
On January 21, Williamson will launch his sixth TV series, Fox's terrifying The Following, starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy as two brilliant brains locked in a battle of wits. Turns out, it's taken more than 15 years to get this series to television as Williamson tells me he first thought of the idea while writing the original Scream!
"Back when I was researching Danny Rolling [known as The Gainesville Ripper
; in 1990 he murdered five students in Florida and later served as the inspiration for Scream
], I wanted to write about a serial killer on a college campus, and an FBI agent hunting down a college professor. But then I decided to do Scream
," Williamson told ETonline at The Television Critics Association Tour in Pasadena, CA. "Interestingly enough, Scream 2
was on a college campus, so it all connected."
In The Following, Bacon's F.B.I. agent is hunting down a serial killer on a college campus only to develop a Lecter/Sterling-like relationship with Professor Joe Carroll, played with chilling intensity by Purefoy. But it turns out Williamson also used a large chunk of his abandoned script for Scream 3 to round out the world of The Following.
"In my original story for Scream 3 [Ehren Kruger was brought in to write the threequel after Williamson exited], the killers were basically a fanclub of Woodsboro kids that had formed because of Stab 1 and Stab 2," he tells me. "They were all doing the killings and the big surprise of the movie was when Sidney walked into the house after Ghostface had killed everyone ... and they all rose up. None of them were actually dead and they'd planned the whole thing."
Scream 4 fans will notice some similarities between this and the motive Emma Roberts' character proclaimed in the 2011 installment. "The motive was their quest for fame, so I just placed that into one character with Scream 4," Williamson said. "They were trying to top [Sidney's] Woodsboro story so they could be the legacy of their hometown. All those ideas metamorphosed into The Following."
And without ruining anything, let me say that what Kevin Williamson does with the "fanclub" -- rejiggered into a cult of Joe Carroll's followers for the new series -- is haunting, heart-breaking and horrific in the best way imaginable.
See for yourself when The Following premieres January 21 at 9 p.m. on Fox.