IF YOU DIDN’T BELIEVE Jack Quaid was a nice guy from his roles in Amazon Prime Video’s superhero send-up series The Boys or the underrated romantic comedy Plus One, then maybe you’ll believe it from Instagram’s hottest celebrity gossip source. The 29-year-old star, son of actors Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, has become a fixture on @Deuxmoi, the account that shares no-holds-barred user-submitted gossip—some good, a lot of it…not so much—to more than 1.3 million morbidly curious followers.
In a sea of juicy second-hand information that could expose affairs or ruin reputations, the most notable stories about Quaid are mainly that he’s a good tipper and can be really chatty at parties. @Deuxmoi started posting about Quaid a year and change ago, when they received an e-mail from someone who claimed they met up with a friend who was on a date with him, and didn’t even realize he was a famous actor because he was so nice and down to earth. That post led to even more blind items about how goddamn nice this guy was.
It’s hardly juicy gossip, but @Deuxmoi has become a fan. “For me, personally, I liked that as someone who is basically Hollywood royalty he seemed like a genuinely nice & unassuming guy,” the anonymous proprietor of the account says.
You’d expect Quaid to play another Nice Guy™ in the new Scream, the fifth installment of the beloved meta-slasher whodunit series. And he does—his role is Richie, the supportive and practical boyfriend of one of the central characters. But for 26 years, this series has taught viewers to suspect everyone—and to never let anyone off the hook until the end credits start to roll. Think about how many times we all went back and forth on Billy Loomis in the original Scream, Derek in Scream 2, and Detective Mark Kincaid in Scream 3. Being a Nice Guy™ might mean something in a Scream movie—but it also might not.
We can’t say too much about the movie for fear of being stabbed by someone from Paramount in a Ghostface mask, but when it comes to playing Richie with the franchise’s signature opaqueness, Quaid says, “I’m always in the mood for a challenge.”
If you look at the promo material for the new Scream long enough, you could probably convince yourself that just about every character is up to something. (Sleuths on Reddit are already doing just that.) Quaid’s appearance on the movie poster is different from his usual Nice Guy™ look: seedier, with a dirty-looking flannel and a full beard on his usually clean-shaven face.
“I think people are going to be very surprised with the character he plays in Scream,” co-star Melissa Barrera says. “It’s something completely different.”
Neve Campbell, who plays franchise protagonist Sidney Prescott, helped directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin cast the new installment in line with the late Wes Craven’s vision for the series. “One of the things she told us was to make sure when we’re casting the younger roles that everyone just is brave and wants to take chances,” Gillett says. “That was something she said she really remembered, particularly about the first movie: that everyone just showed up swinging for the fences, and you really feel the fun of that movie because of those choices.”
The directors watched Quaid’s performance as Hughie on The Boys, and liked the range they saw. “He’s got all the qualities we look for in an actor where he’s not just one thing,” Bettinelli-Olpin says. “When you watch him on The Boys, he can go from being covered in blood and terrified, to being funny and humorous within a moment.”
The directors also happen to subscribe to @Deuxmoi.
“It’s got to be Jack, right?” Gillett jokes. “Running that Instagram?”
Jokes aside, the filmmakers agree @Deuxmoi could be onto something with the Jack Quaid thirst. “If Jack’s the bar for a modern heartthrob, then we’re in a great place because he’s such a kind, just wonderful soul,” Bettinelli-Olpin says.
Quaid himself is a little baffled by the whole thing—but he’ll take it. “It’s an interesting thing to be a part of, because you’re like, I don’t know, you didn’t ask for it, it just kind of happened,” he says. “It’s not a negative thing either, it’s just kind of… I don’t know. I guess it’s nice.”
STARRING IN A SCREAM MOVIE isn’t where Quaid thought he’d end up. Not long after the original film came out in 1996, a young Quaid encountered a Halloween trick-or-treater with a deluxe version of the iconic Ghostface mask: one where an attached tube pumped “blood” down its face. “I remember that scared the shit out of me when I was, like, four years old,” he says. “So I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no. I don’t want to watch that movie.'” He was too afraid to watch horror movies until his early 20s.
While he eventually came around to the genre (he’s spent a large chunk of recent time catching up on classics that he missed, like Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness), he still watches with his fingers in his ears and his hands partially blocking his eyes. When he made it through Scream for the first time, he realized something: “It’s like a gateway drug,” he says. Since Scream references movies like Friday the 13th, and Halloween, it made him want to go back and watch them, too. “I came to realize that no horror movie was ever going to be as bad as what I imagined it to be.” (On the wall of his West Hollywood home, there’s now a poster for Stab, the movie-within-a-movie from the Scream sequels.)
And it turns out, Quaid’s pretty good at acting in stuff that would normally scare him shitless.
“Jack is a good fit for genre for the same reasons he’s a good fit for anything—he knows how to ground a performance in these little moments of humanity that make a character real and relatable,” says Eric Kripke, creator and showrunner of The Boys. “It’s important for any film, but especially important in genre, because the actor’s job is to take these absurd fantasy concepts and ground them in character and heart. Jack finds the real person beneath all the bells and whistles.”
Quaid is used to people assuming his parents helped him get a foot in the door. “It’s fine,” he says, looking away just the tiniest bit. “It’s part of it, I get it.” He insists they mostly gave him practical advice, like how long a day on set would be. “I mostly just get support from them,” he says. “They’re never mean enough—even if I sucked in something—to be like, ‘That was terrible,’ you know?”
Makes you realize where the Nice Guy™ thing came from.
TO SAY THERE’S a bit of apprehension surrounding the new Scream might be an understatement. The last installment, Scream 4, was released more than a decade ago, but more significant is the fact that Wes Craven, the horror master who directed every other Scream movie, died in 2015. It would be perfectly reasonable for any Scream fan to believe the series should have ended right there.
But it’s also easy to get on board with the return of original stars Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette, along with original screenwriter Kevin Williamson (back now in an executive producer capacity). The new movie brings in the directing team of Gillett and Bettinelli-Olpin, who helmed 2018’s Ready or Not, a dark horror/comedy that mirrors the exact kind of tone a Scream movie needs to have. “It’s very evident how much they’re trying to honor Wes in this movie,” Quaid says. “They’re trying to make a movie he would be proud of. And there was a lot of reverence towards him on that set. We weren’t just making a movie to cash in on a franchise; we wanted to make sure this is a movie that he would enjoy, and that he would be proud of.”
We will reveal one thing about the new Scream that should make fans happy: For every minute of edge-of-the-seat-tension comes another minute of the laugh-out-loud self-awareness that defines the series. Even though Wes Craven is gone, it feels like a Scream movie—and that’s something that would probably make the horror master proud. Quaid should be proud of his part in the legacy—even if he decides to plug his ears and block his eyes every time he rewatches the movie.