'Scream' Star Marley Shelton on Judy Hicks' Return and Those Lemon Squares (Exclusive)

The actress who first appeared in 'Scream 4' is back for her second installment in the slasher franchise.

After first debuting in Scream 4, Marley Shelton is making a surprise return as Judy Hicks in the fifth installment of the iconic slasher franchise that sees a whole new generation of Woodsboro teens stalked and terrorized by Ghostface. 

“I couldn’t believe it. I was over the moon,” Shelton tells ET’s Matt Cohen about learning that her character would be coming back for another sequel, this time written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. The two pairs take over for creator Kevin Williamson and late director Wes Craven, who were behind the first four films.  

Even though appreciation for Scream 4 has since grown after it first premiered in theaters in 2011, many fans are still divided over Hicks, a red herring first introduced as a deputy sheriff working with Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and a former high school classmate of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Her presence at the time also caught the ire of Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who didn’t take too kindly to her lemon squares. 

Paramount Pictures

This time around, Hicks has been promoted to sheriff and is the mother of Wes (Dylan Minnette), one of the high school students – many of whom are related to the original characters – trying to stay alive. And while her quirky nature may elicit eye rolls among Wes’ friends (and Gale, who eventually returns to Woodsboro after the killings start up again), she’s easily one of the most prepared to take on Ghostface again. 

Knowing how Hicks was received the first time around (“Some people love [her], you know, some people don’t,” she says), Shelton loves how the new film explores where their characters are now, especially after 10 years. “That’s one of the fun things,” she says, explaining that audiences will see “how they’ve progressed and what’s happened and where they’ve gone.”

Of course, the biggest development for Hicks being motherhood. And as Wes, whose name is a direct nod to Craven, Minnette says the character is a fulfilling moment for him. “I feel particularly tied to Scream 4, the first one I saw in theaters. So, to be related to [Marley] and [her] first movie was Scream 4, it feels full circle. Especially because I was watching that on a big screen and thinking how everyone wants to be in a Scream movie and now I am,” the actor shares. 

Paramount Pictures

Given how meta and self-referential the franchise is, the actress teases “there are callbacks to Scream 4” and her character’s “Judyisms.” She says, “There’s some fun payoffs [with the] tension between Gale Weathers and Judy.” 

There’s even a subtle nod to Hicks’ famous dessert. “There’s a really fun Easter egg in this one,” Shelton teases, before acknowledging how popular they’ve become. “I can’t believe the popularity of the lemon squares. They have their own celebrity situation going on. It’s amazing.” 

Her lemon squares are so popular that the franchise even released a recipe for them ahead of Scream’s debut in theaters. “It’s hysterical what people kind of pick up on and keep going with,” she says.

How Hicks and her lemon squares are ultimately received this time around remains to be seen. But the new sequel certainly offers justice for Judy, who gets an opportunity to shine as one of the few returning and now, legacy, characters. Her return makes Hicks the only character not introduced in the first film to reprise their role in a second installment.

“So yeah, I’m just owning that and it was a blast,” says Shelton, who first auditioned for the role of Tatum (Rose McGowan) in the original movie before being cast 15 years later. “We shot Scream 4 about 10 years ago and that was already just a huge honor to join because I am a huge fan.”

When it comes to what she loves about the films, “this franchise is so unique. Like, the tone is so absolutely terrifying, yet funny and meta and self-referencing and character driven,” Shelton says, adding that with the latest sequel, “we set [out] to do right by that and do it again.” 

Scream slashes its way into theaters on Friday.