Starring in Netflix’s new horror trilogy Fear Street, the actor takes us through the casting process and that supermarket scene.
This past year we’ve all picked up some form of hobby: knitting, yoga, cooking – we’ve tried it all. But for actor Olivia Scott Welch, playing The Sims took up her time. “I was playing Sims every day,” the actress laughed through our late afternoon Zoom call. “It was a dark place. I was playing Sims all day every day, and it was not good. You get so invested in your Sim and you’re like they have to get this job! And that’s when I knew I had to log off.” But of course, the video game didn’t take up all of her time. Between filming Amazon’s teen drama Panic and Netflix’s new trilogy series Fear Street, that rising star has been booked and busy.
Based on R.L. Stine’s best-selling YA novel, Fear Street takes place in the fictional town of Shadyside, whereby strange occurrences keep plaguing the town. From mysterious killings to the rebirth of various murderers, the town has been cursed by a witch, Sarah Fier, who placed a spell on the town before being executed for witchcraft in 1666. With the first film taking place in 1994, we’re introduced to a group of teens who must battle Shadyside’s past killers to save their friend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch). Filled with horrifying murder scenes, 90s nostalgia and wild adventures, Welch talks us through some of the film’s most iconic scenes and how she managed to get involved on the project.
So this whole pandemic, have you been L.A? What have you been up to?
I was in Texas a bit with my family because I filmed Panic there. Then shutdown happened and so I just kind of drove up to see my family and I was with them for a while and I came back to L.A. I just wanted to be with my friends again and try and write stuff, I feel like I had been creatively flat. It was driving me crazy, you know what I mean?. I was playing Sims every day and it was a dark place.
I think we all go through that Sims phase where we sit there for two solid weeks and build a house and you look up and think this isn’t it anymore.
Yes, it’s true. You get so invested in your Sim and you’re like they have to get this job! And you build them a house, and I have like the Sims 2 where they age and get older, so I had two people and had a baby and then that baby grew up and had a baby and that’s when I knew I had to log off.
You’ve had a crazy few months as well. You’ve had Panic and now Fear Street, so it’s kind of been a bit wild with all these press interviews and promo tours. How are you coping with it because it must feel like it’s all been thrown at you?
It’s been so weird. The shows have been so cool! There’s been all this drama and stuff in my personal life, but then people are like ‘But the movies are out!’. I’ve never done anything like this before – to have all this stuff come out and hear the reception of it, especially with Fear Street. People reaching out has been so meaningful and impactful, and it’s just been cool, I’m just so proud of it. The whole cast is like ‘this is so crazy’, we’ve all been in touch frequently over the past week and it’s been like ‘this person has sent me this thing and that person has sent me this thing, and this person has made a cool poster!’
It’s wild because it really has picked up really quickly. How did you first get involved with the project?
The Panic pilot was directed by Leigh Janiak who also directed Fear Street . We just became really close and we talked all the time about filming and became really good friends. One day on set she was like, ‘You know what you’d be great for? These movies that I’m making after this, because you really love horror movies and these films are insane and your friends drown you in a lobster tank and it’s gonna be great’. I was like ‘Wait, what!? That is the craziest thing anyone has ever said to me ever!’ and then she showed me the lookbook and some of the images they had put together to show the studio and the aesthetics they wanted. I was like yes, I’ll do anything!
And you being a horror fan as well, when you first read the script what was your first initial reaction to it?
Oh my gosh, I think I got all three of the script at once and I think it was before my screen test and they sent me all three scripts and I started reading them because it takes me forever to read scripts because I’m a little bit dyslexic and I can’t read of laptops. So, I started to read these scripts and I read all three in one night.
Even when I watched the first film, I thought this was is so intense and for me I think its always going to be the scene where she’s going through the machine and I thought, ‘Okay this is a lot’ [laughs]
It’s a lot! I showed them to my friend, you know that scene and he was like ‘Y’all took it too far. It was great, but I think you guys took it too far!’ [laughs]
It is iconic but I guess for you though, what do you think is an iconic scene that stood out for you?
I don’t know, I think horror-wise, the sequence of us being in the grocery store because everything is so crazy. The drowning is so crazy and everyone dying so quick. I hope there’s a behind-the-scenes or something, because everything in the grocery store was period-accurate.
Your role as Sam as well, so you got the script and you got the role, how did you prepare yourself to step into it.
I did a lot of journaling for the character and made very specific choices for her. I made a playlist and then took a walk and listened to the playlist and think about my character. Kiana and I sat down one day and had dinner and was like, ‘We come into the movie and they’ve broken up, so we should figure out what made them fall in love and what made them stay together and what they’re fighting for’. We mapped out their whole relationship right up until the point the movie starts which was super helpful. We worked over some scenes and stuff and we made some decisions about their relationship, so when we were in the group scenes there was stuff only us two knew about the character like you do in a real relationship and when you’re around your friends. It ws a huge blessing to have an actor and a partner like that who wanted to do that was so nice. So that was really cool
And is your approach to this role, like journaling and doing look walks, would you approach all your roles that way?
I think it kinda depends. Yeah, I think it’s interesting because Sam was the first character I played for such a long period of time so it was cool to play her and figure out what worked for her and I then went straight into Panic after that. I had maybe a month or so in-between. Heather was so different, there are a lot of similarities, so there were things about Heather I tried to purposely make different from Sam which was also a different process.
Aside from acting, I feel like a lot of people don’t know a lot about you, so what would you like people to know about you?
That’s a good question! I don’t know. I only ever talk about movies because that’s all I think of all day long…
What’s your favourite type of project you’d love to work on? Would you like to do Sci-Fi, fantasy, romance, comedy, anything?
My writing partners and I – who started writing with in quarantine – we’ve started writing scripts and that’s been really cool. We’re just very passionate, we make these weird little movies and we write these scripts. It’s been really cool and I hope we can get them out there. I’ve love A24 movies and films from smaller studios because they’re just so unique and different. They’re just original stories and I’m excited to see that come back in the next wave of cinema.
Who would you love to work with in cinema?
I’d love to work with Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, and Moria Kelly!
I think you definitely can, you can never say never!
I’m putting it out there in the universe. Paul Thomas Anderson is a big one, and the Coen Brothers. I saw Zola the other day and this woman should direct everything, she’s so incredible she’s got so much style and everything, she crushed this movie! It was so good!
What’s next for you, what are you next excited for?
I’ve really been able to get into the fashion world and I’m so passionate about fashion, and I have been my whole life. I know so many random things, I’ll be like, ‘Remember that Alexander McQueen 1993 show?’ This has been so cool because I’ve been able to utilize that knowledge and use a stylist on this. Aside from continuing to make movies like this, I’m excited to dive into the fashion world and see what it brings me!
The Fear Street Trilogy is available on Netflix now