Bella Thorne on Recreating Drew Barrymore's Iconic 'Scream' Role and Why She Turned Down the Lead (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Spoiler alert! Bella Thorne, who plays Nina Patterson in MTV’s highly anticipated TV adaptation of the Scream franchise, dies in the first scene.
It’s a fact that was first revealed during a Facebook Q&A when Thorne answered a question about her appearance in the first episode. “I will re-enact the famous scene of Drew Barrymore in the original series,” she wrote back in December of 2014. Knowing that Scream first shocked fans in 1996 by killing off Barrymore, despite advertising her as the main character, it didn’t take long for fans to decipher what she meant.
When asked about the Q&A, Thorne told ETonline that she never hid the fact that she was only in the first scene. And creator Jill Blotevogel confirmed the death was always in the script. “A great opening kill was definitely needed as the jumping off point to show,” she told ETonline via email.
Despite how it may have agitated the network, the spoiler has since been wholeheartedly embraced, with Thorne doing the heavy lifting on the show’s promotion.
What fans didn’t realize at the time, was that dying in the first scene wasn’t supposed to happen. Originally approached to play Emma Duvall, Thorne turned down the chance to play the show’s lead (and good girl) at the center of Lakewood’s high school murders. “It just didn’t end up working out relocation-wise. I just couldn’t do it,” said Thorne, who at 17 years old is the same age as the teens being terrorized in the show. “I’m too young to relocate [to Baton Rouge, La., where Scream is filmed].”
“I love my mom and my brother. Although that sounds very immature, I’m still a kid at heart,” she added. “I like being home in my bed and I can’t lose my brother just yet. We’re best friends.”
Blotevogel revealed that the show had considered “a lot of pop culture names,” including musicians and models, before turning to Thorne. Due to time constraints -- they only had a day to shoot the opening sequence -- the actress was the only one capable of doing the scene "without a million takes."
“Bella nailed it,” Blotevogel added.
So when the self-proclaimed horror fan found a way to still be a part of the show, Thorne discovered it was something far more iconic than she realized. “I could only be so lucky to be in a room of iconic people,” Thorne said when asked about the idea that she’s joining a short list of actors -- Barrymore, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mike Epps, and Kristen Bell -- who have starred in the franchise’s pre-title credits death scenes. “I honestly had no idea [it was a big deal]. To me, it was a really fun scene.”
Despite knowing Barrymore -- the two worked together on the Adam Sandler film, Blended -- Thorne said that she didn’t reach out to the actress or even re-watch her scene. It was about creating something new, even if it was an homage to a woman she calls “mom.”
What plays out on screen (and in the clip below) is a modern take on Scream’s setup: a young girl, home alone at night, suddenly terrorized by a serial killer. Thorne’s version finds Nina not getting called about her “favorite scary movie,” but receiving cryptic texts and real-time snapchats instead -- something Thorne said was even scarier considering the real-life ability to hack phones and spy on people.
Ultimately, her fate is the same of those before her. No sooner than when she strips down to her bikini, she’s attacked by a masked killer and slashed until she’s covered in blood. “I hope there’s more blood,” Thorne said of the series as a whole.
The actress is no stranger to horror, having starred in Amityville: The Reawakening and Home Invasion. Getting covered in blood is just part of the routine -- just as long as it doesn’t get in her hair. “It literally ended up making a rat’s nest and ripped out a glob of my hair,” she revealed. Such is the life of a scream queen.
With the cat out of the bag, Thorne did offer up at least one tease. “I can or can’t say that I’ll be back… maybe or maybe not,” she said, hinting at the possibility she’ll appear in flashbacks.
Until then, watch the entire scene, which MTV has made available in full ahead of Scream’s premiere:
Scream premieres Tuesday, June 30 at 10 p.m. on MTV.