Matthew Lillard was among the most promising young actors of the late ’90s, but his career trajectory seemed to hit a snag before he could become a full-on A-lister. Although the Scream star hasn’t disappeared from the spotlight altogether, he’s definitely seen more than his share of professional setbacks. How and why did Lillard’s star fall so fast?
He’ll always be Psycho Stu to some people
Arguably Lillard’s most memorable role of all time came by way of Wes Craven’s 1996 classic slasher pic Scream, which featured him as the (spoiler warning) serial killer sidekick Stu. Although he’d already earned some audience favor by way of his role in the 1995 cyberdrama Hackers, Scream was what made him one to watch. But it’s the long-lived fan following of the movie that’s also caused Lillard to struggle in establishing a new identity with those built-in fans.
He told The A.V. Club, “I get people on my Twitter account, 10 comments a day, about Scream and—I said it once—’Talking about Scream is like talking about the first girl you ever kissed.’” Lillard added that while he’s got nothing but fond feelings for the people he worked with on the film, he simply doesn’t understand the lasting fandemonium that still surrounds the pic, decades later. “It’s this big point in my life, being a part of that moment and that cast. The cast and I shared this incredible bond and I love Wes Craven. He changed my life. He’s a fantastic human being and a fantastic director—and the cast and I are still good friends. And the idea that people are still obsessed with it, it’s so bizarre to me. I can understand why people are obsessed with Hackers—it’s kitschy kind of fun attached to an era and the beginning of something on the internet. But the Scream thing, the obsession with Scream, I just don’t get it. It’s something that kids are still obsessed with, 20 years later.”
To be fair, he’s not the only actor from the franchise who is inextricably associated with it (his co-star Skeet Ulrich is another example), but it’s obviously still strange all the same.