John Lepard recalls having a hot time on the set of 'Scream 4'
“Scream 4” is certain to be a hot ticket this weekend — and it was definitely a sultry set as well, according to John Lepard.
You’ll see Lepard about 15 minutes into the film. The Williamston Theatre executive director (and director of the theater’s current show “While We Were Bowling”) plays a Woodsboro High School English teacher, identified in the credits as Mr. Baker. One of his students is Jill Roberts (played by the winsome Emma Roberts of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “Nancy Drew” and Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous”), the cousin of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the pivotal player — and frequent near-victim — in the first three “Scream” movies.
Mr. Baker is lecturing when he’s interrupted by the sound of a ringing cell. As he starts to scold the students for not turning off their phones, he’s drowned out by the sound of dozens of devices suddenly bleeping and chirping: A murderer has struck, and news is spreading quickly. (You’ll be relieved to know Mr. Baker does not become one of the many corpses that pile up before the gruesome finale.)
A veteran of other Michigan-made films, such as "Whip It" and "Conviction," Lepard shot his scene last July at Dearborn’s Woodworth Middle School, which was rechristened as Woodsboro High for the filming. “It’s really old,” Lepard said of the location, “and it was hot — hotter than hell. They had fans blowing all the time.”
But director Wes Craven did his best to lighten things up. “I think everyone thinks Wes Craven must be this creepy guy,” Lepard said of the man who gave the world “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Last House on the Left” and the original “Scream” trilogy. “But he’s actually a nice guy with a real sense of humor. Someone had written a bunch of crap on the blackboard behind me on the room, and two of the words they’d written were spelled wrong. Wes came up and looked at the misspelled words and said, ‘What’s this?! I can’t work like this!’”
Craven’s phony tantrum cracked up the actors and crew.
Lepard was also impressed by the amount of scene-setting atmosphere the “Scream” team put into the scene. “You probably can’t see it onscreen, but they decked my classroom out with scary posters — like ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ — and Edgar Allan Poe quotes. I think I was the creepiest teacher ever.”
Although “Scream 4” is expected to bring in sizable sums at the box office this weekend, Lepard is even more excited by another premiere on the horizon: He and his wife, actress Emily Sutton-Smith, are expecting the arrival of their first child at any moment.