This interview contains spoilers for Scream VI. Consider yourself warned.
There’s no franchise that does the whodunit better than Scream. With Scream VI‘s debut this past weekend, the franchise is truly in prime form: wild chase scenes, brutal kills, and chaotic plot twists. Scream 5‘s new cast of survivors returns in this sequel, along with legacy characters Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), to take on yet another Ghostface killer. Rest assured, it’s a hell of a trip.
Scream VI catches up with Tara and Sam Carpenter, played by Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, in their new home: New York City. That’s when we meet Liana Liberato’s Quinn Bailey, who is Tara and Sam’s roommate—and seemingly a fun, sassy addition to the friend group. Beneath her friendly demeanor, she hides a sinister family secret: her older brother was Richie Kirsch, the Ghostface killer of the last film. Using her close connection to the Carpenter sisters, we see Quinn try to avenge her brother. And how does she do that? Well, she becomes Ghostface, of course.
“There definitely has to be this element of this psychopath underlying this character,” Liberato, 27, says over Zoom. “The whole family has this ability to compartmentalize, because there’s something going on with them that’s not right that they’re able to do such horrible things.”
The day before Scream VI‘s premiere, Liberato told me she was able to transform Quinn from the sweet, funny roommate into a ruthless murderer, coming back from a fake death, and what it’s like to put on the Ghostface mask. (Spoiler: it’s actually therapeutic.)
ESQUIRE: Did you know that you were going to play one of the Ghostface killers when you first took the role?
Liana Liberato: I only received the first two acts when I signed on to the movie. So when I arrived in Montreal to start filming, I thought I was killed off. Then I was in the middle of my fitting, and one of our costume girls came in and was like, “Actually, I’m so sorry. [Scream VI directors] Matt [Bettinelli-Olpin] and Tyler [Gillett] want to talk to you for a second. They were on Zoom, and they were like, “Hey, we actually forgot, we have one more outfit for you to try on.” They brought in the Ghostface outfit, and I was like, “What? Wait, that doesn’t make any sense? I’m dead.” And they were like, “You are Ghostface.” I was so excited. But there was a good two months when I did not know.
So they kept you in the dark about it?
They did. I think they also kept Jack Champion [who plays Ethan] out of it as well. He didn’t know either until his fitting… I love the Scream movies and I love horror movies. Knowing that you’re going to take on such a big responsibility and a cool legacy—I still feel very shocked about it. At first, when I thought I died offscreen halfway through, I was so bummed. If you’re in a Scream movie, you either want to be Ghostface, or you want to be the final girl, or you want an epic kill. I got none of that initially. But I was so stoked just to be a part of it. When I read that big reveal, I was like, Wow, great!
How did you feel about getting to play a villain?
It felt really fun. I have never played such a mean person before. When we were filming the last part of the movie, I was screaming so much and [I was] bloody and sweaty. I would come back to my apartment at the end of the day—and I would feel so good. Which feels weird to say, but it was so therapeutic to just be so untamed, so wild. And I hope that the fans are surprised simply because I don’t play roles like this that often.
Quinn is such a scary character, pretending to be their friend and living with them—and the whole time, she’s thinking about how she’s going to kill them.
It was fun. We did some interesting little Easter eggs throughout. I don’t know if anyone will notice, but my character wears a tree necklace the entire time. That was intentional because we wanted to imply this family tree and this much broader connection to the story. There were certain scenes where they intentionally separated Jack and I. But there were moments where I would not too obviously check in with him a little bit. Especially in the scene when the news comes out saying that there were killings of the two film students, and Sam is like, “We’re leaving. We’re getting out of the city.” There was an intentional moment when I wanted to look at Jack and be like, “Okay, we have to have a game plan here because they can’t leave. Playing around with that was really fun.
Let’s talk about the scene when the Ghostface killer is in the apartment, going after everyone. Sam mentions that somebody took the knives from their apartment. Were you the one who took the knives away?
I think it would probably make the most sense that it was me, because I was in the apartment. And it seems like I don’t leave the apartment much. So, yes, it was most likely Quinn that did it. It’s funny though, because I wasn’t there when they were filming that part of the scene. So when I watched that scene, when Sam looks for the knives, I was like, Oh nice, Quinn. Good call.
What was your favorite kill in the movie?
My favorite kill is definitely Anika. It’s so brutal. Sad, too. And Devyn [Nekoda] is so incredible in that scene. They filmed that scene for like three days. She had bruises all over her from the ladder being shaken. It’s so heartbreaking when she’s like, ‘I don’t want to die, Mindy.’ I also think that this ghostface is so dark. It’s almost like you’re playing with your food before you eat it.
Which kills were you?
I was a Ghostface at Gale’s. Then I’m also in the subway. I did stab Mindy. And then Ethan and I are both stabbing Chad, which is so brutal. I’m pretty sure Dermot [Mulroney] is at the bodega and the therapist’s place. You can kind of tell who it is by how the masks look. The oldest-looking mask, which is Billy Loomis, those are all Dermot. I have Stu Macher’s mask.
It feels like the Ghostface killers have superhuman powers. When they’re wearing the mask, they can recover from all these blows—and they somehow get inside places. Do you have any theories about how snuck inside Gale’s house, or how you got into the lockdown location?
There was definitely some advantage in having a cop father. His ability to get into places and stuff like that. I literally get hit in the face with a cast iron pan, and we take some serious blows from Chad at the end. There definitely is a suspension of disbelief when watching it, and this superhuman strength when you’re Ghostface, that’s kind of fun. It made me feel like a badass when I was watching it. I was like, That’s cool that Quinn is able to do those things. She must be ripped.
How did you feel about your death scene?
It’s funny because Dermot and I were joking about how we should just die badly so we can be a part of the next one. They’ll go into the edit and be like, Those performances were awful. We can’t use it. We just love the cast and crew so much. But as a Scream fan, I was cheering when I read my death, because it was so sick. And Melissa being like, “You always gotta shoot them in the head.” It was so badass.
Who is your favorite Ghostface of them all?
I would have to say—because I just watched the first one again—that it’s Stu and Billy. They just set the foundation of all Ghostfaces, so I love them. I think Stu is so unhinged, and I like that Quinn really likes him, too. So maybe I’m biased because of that. But Stu and Billy are the OG.
I love the way Scream ties together backstories to connect all the movies. What did you think of that connection with your true identity?
Matt and Tyler are so thoughtful and creative about that. There’s a scene in Scream 5 where Richie, played by Jack Quaid, does this knife flip—and Matt and Tyler really wanted me to do that same knife flip. So I spent months leading up to the third act learning how to do this knife flip exactly the way Jack did. Hopefully the fans will be able to catch on to that brother-sister tie.
Was it hard keeping this secret from everyone?
Normally, I have a pretty big mouth, but it’s been really fun to get to play with my friends—and it’ll be super satisfying to get to watch it with them.
Do you think that it is possible that Quinn maybe didn’t actually die—and she might come back in some other form?
I don’t know how you recover from a shot in the head, but I’m always open to coming back. Honestly, I would do absolutely anything for Matt and Tyler. They are so wonderful. They set such a high bar when it comes to filming movies or doing anything in this industry. You wouldn’t have to ask me twice. I’d be so happy to come back.
Sirena He is an editorial assistant and writer who focuses on media and culture. She is a lover of horror films and believes in the healing power of storytelling.