If you're a millennial who grew up around the time of the monster success that was the Scream franchise, the name Jamie Kennedy goes hand-in-hand with both horror and comedy. Kennedy found immense notoriety with the Wes Craven-directed films, and quickly became an outstanding figure in the world of comedy. And now, he's celebrating the release of two films which pay respect to the classic '80's horror films we all love so much: Tremors 5: Bloodlines and The Sand.
Kennedy's success after Scream continued onwards with heavily celebrated projects such as The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and Malibu's Most Wanted. All the while, he found himself getting back into stand-up comedy, using his celebrity as a way to reconnect with the art form he started off with in the early '90's.
Kennedy recently spoke with MStars News about the two films, his approach to stand-up, and even his thoughts about the new MTV Scream series.
MStars News: Congrats on The Sand and Tremors 5. These are two exciting projects for you.
Jamie Kennedy: Thanks, man. I'm excited! Tremors is getting some really good reaction so far. I'm really happy.
MS: Tremors is such a legendary film. What was it like getting to work on a series like that?
JK: When I got the offer I was like: Is this real? Seriously? Tremors? I can do this? I'm a move away from Bacon! [laughs] I was amazed. They really wanted to put money in this one and amp it up. You know how they reboot Texas Chainsaw Massacre and stuff? They said this would be a reboot, so I was like all right! I think if people really like this then there could be another one. I was lucky to be a part of it. It was a really hard movie to shoot, physically.
MS: Why is that?
JK: We were in Africa. It was five weeks. There was barely anytime to breathe and we were shooting guns, driving trucks and motorcycles. It was everything I don't do in my normal life. It was awesome, and such a great experience!
MS: I imagine you were a fan of the first Tremors.
JK: HUGE! Huge Tremors fan. My inner Randy came out on this film. [laughs] It was a really physically awesome shoot. All we did was work out and did the movie. We were deep in the heart of Africa, deep in the desert. We were there in a place called the Cradle of Humankind in Pretoria, South Africa. If you look this up they just found a new species called a Hominid. That's how deep we were. It was like Tremors!
MS: The Sand is sort of an homage to those '80's horror films, like Tremors. Can you explain it?
JK: I come in, all these kids are on the beach partying, drinking, having sex. You know, all the things they shouldn't be doing on the beach. I play the beach patrol guy and I discover this f*cking chaotic scene. There's a couple of girls standing on their car, they tell me not to walk on the sand. I'm like What are you talking about? Don't walk on the sand? So I do and, you know, the rest happens.
MS: Like Tremors, this film is a very niche genre. What is it about this genre that people find so intriguing?
JK: Wes Craven, God rest his soul- I remember we were doing Scream, he told me that people need to be scared just as much as they need to laugh. It's another emotion. People like to laugh and people like to get scared. And I think those movies connect with people. People think what if I was in that situation? I think we all have those childhood fears instilled in us, and they come out in different ways.
MS: Plus, it seems horror and comedy can go hand-in-hand.
JK: Oh yeah! Definitely. Tremors did it in a way that was, like, monster-driven comedy. It was more like dealing with the creature that was out of this world. Scream had comedy but it was dealing with a darker, psychological story. Even Halloween had a couple of funny moments, but in my eyes it has to be played as real.
MS: As a millennial, to me, you were one of the guys who brought comedy to mainstream horror, in Scream. Was that intentional?
JK: No, that was all in the script. The script for Scream was really funny. It had lines like, "I never thought I'd be so happy to be a virgin." I read it and thought this is hilarious! I probably just have a natural funny aspect but that was all in the script. Most of it was penned but maybe some of it wasn't.
MS: Since we're on the subject, have you watched the TV show Scream?
JK: I only watched the pilot. It wasn't bad. It's not the movie but it's not supposed to be. It doesn't bother me because the movie is the movie.
MS: With all of your projects, you still do stand-up frequently, no?
JK: I do! I work during the week and then on the weekends do comedy. I just submitted my new one-hour to Netflix so hopefully I'll do one with them.
MS: How long have you been doing stand-up?
JK: I started in the early '90s. Then I got busy with movies and a lot of stuff so I stopped. Then an agent came to me and asked if I wanted to do it again, so I started playing colleges around '99 and that's how I got into it again.
MS: Is it still challenging to you?
JK: Oh yeah! There's a point of going onstage and being uncomfortable. I wrestle with new material when I play on Saturday nights. If you're trying to work out something on a Saturday night people feel cheated, but sometimes, a lot of times, I find new stuff on the weekend shows. It's the hard part- figuring out when you're the entertainment and when you can try new stuff and grow as an artist.