Jeremy Ford can be seen in Netflix’s new Fear Street trilogy. Both Fear Street Part 1: 1994 and Fear Street Part 2: 1978 are currently streaming on Netflix and Fear Street Part 3: 1666 premiered on July 16. The films were all shot back-to-back-to-back with the same cast in three different period settings. All of them are connected by an epic narrative, making one horrifying story.
In 1994, a group of teenagers discover the terrifying events that have haunted their town for generations may all be connected — and they may be the next targets. Based on R.L. Stine’s best-selling horror series, FEAR STREET follows Shadyside’s sinister history through a nightmare 300 years in the making.
I chatted with the actor about Fear Street Part 3: 1666, which year of the trilogy he’s most excited for fans to experience, the fan response, which death scene was the craziest to watch, what unique challenges the project presented, and so much more! Keep reading to find out all of his answers.
What originally attracted you to these films?
Jeremy Ford: Yeah, it’s a good starter question. I would be remissed if I didn’t tell you the truth, which is I’ve been pursuing acting for eight or nine years and in that eight or nine years, it’s just tons of low budget stuff, unpaid stuff, and low paid stuff; just the kind of things that a young actor cuts his teeth on. So when the audition first came my way it was kind of like you just sort of get used to this cycle of like, oh cool, big opportunity, you audition, and oftentimes you don’t hear back. It’s just the name of the game, I guess. So when this came my way was, you know, at the time it was 20th Century Fox and it was just untitled 20th Century Fox trilogy, and I knew it was a sort of big supporting role. I was like, “Oh, that’s cool. You know, that’s exciting. Chances are not gonna work out, but I’ll try my best, why not?” So just going into it, it was like the scope of the projects were just like, “Oh man, I would kill to be in a studio trilogy.” I hadn’t even read the scripts yet, but I was already excited. Then as you go through the callback process, they send you the scripts eventually. I read them and I was like, “Oh wow, these are special.” I could tell immediately when I read them like this one’s going to be something super unique and original. They were so well-written and I knew Leigh, who had a hand in writing all the scripts, was going to direct it. I could see them in my head and was just immediately smitten with material.
The films are based on R.L. Stine’s best-selling horror series; what was it like to be part of bringing this iconic creation to life?
It was wild. I mean, of course, I was terribly familiar with R.L. Stine because of Goosebumps, but Fear Street was not on my radar when I was a kid, because it was a little bit more mature and I hated being scared. Some kids like get a real kick out of like horror films and I was not that way at all. So when I came onto the Fear Street movies, I was sorta telling people like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to be in these films called Fear Street, they’re based on some books.” And almost everyone I’ve talked to, they’re like, “Oh my God, I loved those books.” I was like, “Oh wow. This is like a big sort of like pop culture moment for my career.” It was really special. So I also felt like a huge due diligence, like to the audience because these books mean a lot to so many people.
You actually just made me think of a new question as we were speaking, because I am not a horror person at all, but I loved this trilogy. And so for you to say you didn’t like being scared growing up, is horror something you wanted to pursue when you started acting or was this project almost an exception?
You know, it wasn’t something I like sought out, for sure. I’m terrible with comedy FYI, like comedy is not my brand. So I’m drawn to more dramatic projects, like kind of slice of life, sort of independent type stuff. When these films came my way, I was like, “Oh, horror is not really my genre,” but over the last few years, some really fantastic horror films have come out because I think maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago, horror kind of had a bad rap. It was sort of like popcorn, jump scares, and they’re not necessarily well made or the most well-acted movies. But I feel like starting with Jordan Peele’s Get Out in like 2017, it sort of shifted the whole genre. It was like really well-made horror movies started being made with Hereditary and Midsommar. So when Fear Street came my way and I read them, it really felt like Stranger Things and at that time, Stranger Things was, and still is, so huge. So I could see them in my head, like I said, and then I’m like, “Oh man, I need to be a part of this project. I hadn’t even booked it yet, but I was so emotionally invested.” I’m like, “Man, if I don’t end up getting this, I’m going to be like severely depressed.”
Those are the best ones, when you want the project so badly that you are invested in it, because that comes across on screen.
Yeah, totally. And I think as an actor, you end up auditioning for so much stuff that you don’t really care about, especially like commercials. It’s like, how much do you really care about Colgate? But when Fear Street comes your way, it’s so worth getting invested in.
[Yeah. It’s definitely the same with me as a writer. I watch so many things and I write about so many things, but I was invested in this trilogy.]
For sure. And like you said, you don’t like horror films and you still enjoyed them. I think Fear Street brings a lot to the table. Like it satiates horror fans, but it’s also so much fun, they pop, the music is great, and the acting is fun. I just think they’re sort of pretty well-rounded movies.
Which year of the trilogy are you most excited for fans to see? Because they are all so different.
Oh, totally. They did such a good job at like making each time period look and feel different from the last with something authentic about all three. And the 1994, I knew people were going to resonate with it because the 90s are so big right now and so many people in our generation grew up in the 90s. I knew that was going to be a big deal, but personally I was most excited for 1666 because you don’t put a lot of movies in that time period.
What can you tease about Fear Street Part 3: 1666? It has a very big twist. So what can you say without spoiling to get fans hyped? Although, I’m sure they already are.
Yeah, I hope so. Here’s a little tease– like I said, I’ve seen them all twice and the third one, you get this like wild 1600s, sort of Salem witch trial film. It feels very like honest and dramatic. The period, costumes, and production design is so beautiful, fun, and unique. Then just the way the entire trilogy concludes, it’s the perfect sendoff for all three movies.
If you could create your own tagline or phrase to describe Part 3, what would you pick?
I don’t know if I stand by this one, but I’m going to let it rip. This is my tagline for 1666: Shadyside never looked so witchy.
What has the fan response meant to you? Because the fans have loved these movies so far.
Oh, man. The outpouring of love and support that the movies are getting on like Instagram and social media is overwhelming. I don’t really read reviews or anything like that, especially for stuff I’m in, but just seeing the love, I’m so grateful to be a part of something that seems to be really like hitting pop culture at this really great time. So that’s been really great and people personally to me have been so wonderfully nice and optimistic about Peter to me on social media. I appreciate the optimism, but I’m reluctant to tell everyone that he’s not coming back; Peter’s gone. So everyone’s been so great about all three movies so far. I sort of knew that would happen, but it’s nice to be validated.
You mentioned that you’ve watched the films at least twice each, so which death scene or shocking moment was the craziest for you to either read in the script or watch on the TV out of Part 1 and Part 2?
Definitely Part 1. I think the death that is resonating with most everyone is Julia’s character Kate going through the bread slicer. I think the story behind that is like Leigh Janiak, our director, who also wrote most of all three scripts, she had this idea of like feeding Kate through a bread slicer. I think everyone on the production was like, “I don’t think that would work. I don’t think a bread slicer would like go through somebody like that.” And Leigh was like, “No, it will.” So they bought a bread slicer and Leigh fed a watermelon through it and it like obliterated the watermelon. And everyone was like, “Oh, shit. I guess we’re feeding Kate through a bread slicer.” So huge shout out to Leigh for making that happen.
Did filming these movies present any certain challenges to you that you maybe hadn’t experienced on other projects?
Yeah. The biggest challenge was like I said, I’ve done a lot of films that I’m like really proud of, but a lot of them are just like really low budget one and done, independent kind of stuff. So just walking onto the Fear Street set day one, it was so overwhelming. I mean, there’s 200 people buzzing around set and the scope of it really like scared me, you know? I have a tendency to walk out of set and be really confident because I’ve been doing this enough where I think I earned a certain amount of confidence, but walking out on that set, I was shaking. In fact, my first take, my heart was beating so loud that the mic would only pick up my heartbeat, like you couldn’t hear my lines because I was so nervous. The first week was really just understanding like how to work on a set with this many moving parts, and especially a horror movie. It’s so sort of like tactical, procedural, and technical with the deaths and stuff like that. So it’s a lot of like technical acting, which is hard. It’s not as easy as like, “Oh, be honest, deliver your lines, and be emotionally invested.” There’s so much technical acting that goes into it, which was a huge hurdle. But by the end of shooting both movies, I felt like I learned more than I learned in the last decade of pursuing acting.
How did it feel for you as an actor when all of the final pieces of this story clicked together in the final film?
As an actor, I was just very proud to play the parts I played in the films because both my characters, Peter and Caleb, they’re not the greatest dudes. They both have different motivations from being assholes, but at the end of the day, they’re still assholes. And they serve a very important purpose, especially in 1994. The coolest thing about these films, it’s like, yeah, it’s a big studio horror trilogy that’s very fun, very well made, a lot of time and money was invested into these films– that said, a lot of time and money was invested into these films that had a queer love story front and center for all three movies, and Peter, even though he’s a gigantic asshole, he’s a very important part to tell the story honestly. I think that’s what I’m most proud of. I think I represented what society would think of a queer relationship in the 90s and 1600s, which is scary. That’s an unfortunate reality, but it is what it is and that’s telling it honestly.
What dream roles or projects would you like to do in the future?
Oh, that’s a great question. You know, working on Fear Street and like the success I’ve had since has been a real dream come true as it is and the dream kind of keeps getting wilder and wilder because when the COVID lockdown first happened, my wife and I were just locked in our apartment. We’re like, “Let’s put our heads together and make the most of this free time,” and we wrote a feature film script, and as you know, the lockdown just went on so much longer than we all thought. We had so much time to devote to writing and we ended up writing something we were super proud of. It’s sort of inspired by my real life relationship with my father and how it is being sort of a more sort of sensitive, shy kid growing up with like a rugged, rough sort of brash father. Fast forward to the point I’m actually trying to make, which is we ended up getting the film financed at the beginning of this year, 2021. I mean, that is a dream project for me; like writing something with my wife and we have two wonderful finance years that are footing the bill for us to like, sort of create our own sandbox and then play in it. We have a bunch of people hired and we’re actually casting right now. I don’t wanna spoil who we’re going out to for the guy to play my dad, but right now it’s looking really promising and exciting and that’s a real dream come true. And that project is called Way Down Bundy. So, definitely keep your eyes peeled and I’m really excited about it.