No actress in the history of film has dominated the horror genre as adeptly as Neve Campbell.
The Canadian actress was more than a run-of-the-mill scream queen; she exerted unsettling, thoughtful command over each and every scene, bubbling with feminine energy but concealing an insurmountable volume of rage and power. There’s a reason why she became one of the most adored, acclaimed actresses in the nineties: her name carried weight, her performances inspired widespread interest.
Despite the following she’d developed as a result of her work on the Scream franchise, horror flick The Craft, and drama series Party of Five, she inevitably fell off the radar at some point, when no one was looking. How did such a sensational, beloved celebrity get reduced to nothing but a faint memory? Was it simply a case of ageism in the industry? Or did her recent work pale in comparison to the phenomenon of Scream?
As Neve returns to the fold for Scream 5, let’s take a moment to chronicle her journey through her years and see what she went through.
Neve didn’t want to be typecast as a scream queen and needed a “minute”
At the turn of the century, in the wake of Scream 3, Neve Campbell was in an inevitable position, prepared to rise through the ranks in Hollywood and stake her claim as a top-tier actress.
Yet, for one reason or the other, she wasn’t able to sustain the momentum. For starters, she moved to London just as her career was taking off. Today, no actor would think twice about moving across the world for a change of scenery, given how their production schedule requires them to travel continuously anyway. However, back then, when you were trying to make a mark on the world, it wasn’t advisable for you to leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles in order to pursue a quieter life in England. That’s exactly what Neve Campbell did. “I was [in Los Angeles] for 13 years, and it just didn’t suit me. But you get caught up in this belief that you can’t leave or your career will disappear.”
From her perspective, it wasn’t a stupid move at all. She truly wanted to escape the chaos of Hollywood and expand her horizons, both physically and artistically. She didn’t want to fixate on the “business and money” anymore; instead, she wanted to test herself as an actress and try her hand at behind-the-scenes creative work. In 2003, she co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film, The Company. She also wrote the script for the independent film Where Will I Loved, which garnered positive reception. In 2006, she debuted on West End, starring in Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues. Neve’s fascinating post-Scream career proves that there are so many ways you can prosper as an actress; you don’t just have to be doing blockbuster features to remain relevant. Sometimes, it’s okay to find fulfillment in smaller productions that resonate with you just the same.
I just wasn’t interested in the scripts and I was feeling a bit unhappy with the things that were coming to me. And I was feeling a little bored with the whole thing. I thought, I want a change. So I moved to London.
Neve Campbell on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
In a revealing interview with Stephen Colbert, Neve delved into her departure and added how she didn’t want to be typecast in horror. “I was constantly being offered horror films because I was known for horror films,” she told Stephen. As a young actress, you will take any project you can find, but as you gain more experience and explore your own passion, you realize what you are and are not willing to do. Neve said, “I just wasn’t interested in the scripts and I was feeling a bit unhappy with the things that were coming to me.”
She craved anonymity and decided to divert her attention to family
At the same time, the fear of being typecast or being boxed into a specific persona in show business wasn’t the only factor driving Neve’s choices. The 48-year-old also wanted space to breathe; she came into prominence too early too quickly, and as a result, the backlash of fame messed with her head. She didn’t want to be mobbed in the street or be the subject of public scrutiny; she tried to reclaim a sense of anonymity she had lost through being an actress. “I was completely anonymous there,” she said. “People would ask me what I did for a living.”
I needed a minute […] In my twenties, it all hit so fast and so big. It was a little overwhelming.
Neve Campbell on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Neve’s personal life also played a part in how she wanted to navigate the Hollywood landscape. She’s been married twice: to Jeff Colt, from 1995 to 1998, and John Light, from 2007 to 2010. She’s been with her partner JJ Feild since 2010, and they have two children together: sons Caspian and Raynor. Becoming a mother was a turning point in her life, as it can be for anyone going through the same experience. Over the last ten years, she turned down as many as 11 shows in 2018 because the time commitment was simply not feasible. Speaking on one particular offer, she said, “They wanted 24 episodes, which is 11 months out of the year, and they wanted to shoot somewhere that didn’t make sense for my family.”
No one teaches you how to be famous, and it’s a lot to ask of someone in their teens [and] twenties. I needed to leave.
Neve Campbell on Refinery 29
Nearing 50, Neve is focused on what means the most to her. She had her so-called heyday, and she chose to leave the commotion on her own terms. Interestingly, she denies she ever “left” the scene; more likely, she just decided to do work that wasn’t box-office-friendly or unanimously loved. “I think people made the assumption just because I wasn’t showing up in things in America that I left being an artist, which I didn’t,” she said. Once an artist, always an artist.
You don’t have to follow the blueprint
Nothing in life is a guarantee. Just because you suddenly become famous and have a wealth of opportunities at your disposal doesn’t mean you’re going to like any of them. Neve was set for big-time success, but instead, she chose to disregard the blueprint of “being famous” and chose to pack her bags to move across the pond. She knew in her heart what she wanted to do, and it was not what people wanted her to do. She needed to carve her own path in this messy universe and take a chance on work that would genuinely enrich and nourish her.
We might not be facing the same conundrum, but it’s entirely possible to doubt the standard rules and regulations and conventions that seem to reign over your life. Instead of bowing down to them in the name of conformity, why not investigate what you really want and fixate your energies in that direction?
Follow your heart
Being brave is not always easy but it’s always worth it.
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