Having carved his way through his work on short films, Jeremy Ford has recently made a huge leap into major feature film production with his work in the FEAR STREET TRILOGY. While his characters were not center stage, his dual roles as Pete (in Fear Street Part 1: 1994) and Caleb (in Fear Street Part 3: 1666) showcases the full circle of his characters’ family line’s impact on Sarah Fier, and how actions have consequences across the generations. After the success of this trilogy, it has become more than clear that this is just the beginning for Ford, and for the rest of the cast.
For the release of the FEAR STREET TRILOGY, Nightmarish Conjurings got the chance to chat with actor Jeremy Ford, where we discussed everything from her two characters, the religious fervor of the Salem Witch Trials and Early American settlements, and karmic retribution. As a general note, there are HUGE spoilers in this interview, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
I’m gonna start heavy first. Your character in 1666, it’s a smaller role compared to Solomon Goode. But Caleb, essentially, lights the match for the inevitable Curse of Sarah Fier that Shadysiders hear about centuries later. And I’m wondering what are your thoughts on that? Because Goode essentially just pours the gasoline, and Caleb just goes, “Screw these girls!” [makes match striking noises]
Jeremy Ford: [laughs] Yeah. You’re absolutely right. When I first was getting offered these roles in the FEAR STREET movies, they sent me the scripts, and I had no expectations because, at the time, it was in the hands of 20th Century [Studios]. So, I just knew it was an untitled 20th Century horror trilogy, and they told me, “Oh, just make sure you’re free for about six months. I was like, Oh my gosh, this must be one of the lead roles, and they were kind of touting Peter and Caleb as one of the leads. So, when I first read the scripts, and at this point, it’s not a spoiler because we all know but in 1994, Peter dies at about page 40. And I was like, “But they want you to be available for six months. You must come back, you know?”
I got to the end of the script. He never came back, and I was like, “Oh, that’s bizarre. Okay. Then 1978. Oh, no Peter. No Caleb. Oh, okay. Is that it? Is that a wrap for me?” And then, I saw Caleb come back in 1666. It is smaller than I expected, but exactly like you say, he is the one that lights the match, and it’s all because he was made a fool. He has an opportunity to get back at Sarah Fier and Hannah Miller, and he takes it, and he does it in the worst, most vicious way. Which you know, then propels the 300-year long curse.
I’m mentioning it here, so no one misses it because this is the hill I’m dying on. I feel it might get glossed over. And Caleb, this guy bears almost as much responsibility as the Goodes.
Jeremy Ford: Basically, the whole curse of Shadyside hangs on Caleb’s, as they say in the 1600s, his member. Being the sort of the linchpin for all of that, I feel that it’s this tremendous honor, and I’m really happy to get to play that part in the whole series.
Taking into account the fact that they did the dual role thing to reflect the generations and the descendants, do you think that Peter’s fate in Part One is sort of like karmic retribution?
Jeremy Ford: You just sort of blew my mind because I think you’re onto something. I never even considered that. Because people who have watched have said, “Peter is the only Sunnyvaler that dies. Is that a plothole?” But you’re right. I guess I never thought of it that way. Because I know I was like, “What the heck? Why did Peter die?” But I think we just cracked the case wide open with that.
It’s fascinating because after watching 1666, and knowing how the settlements split, I think that was the only way that I was able to make that connection.
Jeremy Ford: You’re so right. That was Sarah Fier’s way of getting back at Caleb.
Also, just the curse, that it was initially for Shadyside. Even if you move, you can’t really escape. Of the two roles, which was your favorite to play, and did either one present any challenges when you were going in to shoot?
Jeremy Ford: I think both had different kinds of challenges. The challenge for me, for Peter in 1994, it was more technically challenging, because I’ve done so many small, lower-budget films. I did as much preparation as I could because that’s just what I do just to show up feeling confident. But you show up on a set this large, my confidence was just rocked immediately because it was such a big undertaking. You’ve seen all three of the movies, it’s a horror film so they are technically very precise. They’re very fast-paced, even all the camera movements, everything. And there’s a lot of practical effects. So many of the deaths are practically done. There were so many technical things like, make sure you don’t say this line too fast. But when you do, make sure you move up here, and then watch out for the camera coming from behind you. Oh, and at this point, the blood is gonna pump out of you. It’s almost like this really impressive dance, and on top of all of that, you have to be present, be in the moment. You have to be honest as an actor. It was really hard. I’ve done so many films where it’s just relying on the acting. It’s like okay, cool, the cameras gonna follow you. So, just live. Just be the character. That wasn’t really the case here, because they were so technically challenging.
For Caleb, I think the challenge was just the different periods.1994 was not that far away from where we’re at now. 1666, I knew nothing about that world. So, I did as much as I could as far as research with the Salem Witch Trials, and 17th century early Americans. The one thing that I really latched on with Caleb in 1666 was the religious component of those early settlements. They were all driven by religion. And, for me, that was the key for Caleb. When things weren’t going his way, he would be the guy to use religion as a weapon in his favor, which is what he ends up doing. He gets embarrassed by Sarah Fier around the campfire, and as soon as the opportunity to throw her under the bus, he does it in the name of religion. So, that was really helpful for me.
It also mirrors the Salem Witch Trials too, because now that we’re all older, and more research has been done, we all know how some of the accusations were politically or land motivated, too. So, it makes perfect sense.
Jeremy Ford: Totally. So many of them were politically motivated, socially motivated, but it seems like back then it was just, the slightest thing that went wrong, or if someone was slightly off, they were so quick to be like, “Oh, witchcraft!” and they would, hang them or sometimes thrown in the river. It seemed like they were fast and loose with the accusations.
And that may be the most terrifying thing about 1666, and that’s with the ’94 Part Two thrown in there.
Jeremy Ford: Agreed. The religious discourse is still happening today too. I won’t name names. Every religion has people in it that use it the wrong way. Either by a misunderstanding, or they’re intentionally misrepresenting the religion for their own gain, and that is really scary.
We also see how history is gender-wise. We see this between the Goodes, but also just the Union Settlement, how history can be re-written by the men in power. Because of how Sarah Fier was written off as the witch. That’s why the Shadysiders can’t get a break. But it turns out, that’s not the case.
Jeremy Ford: I think that’s almost the second through-line for these movies. But the first one is this really fantastic, queer love story, and how they were sidelined by society through all these different decades and time periods. And then, the second through line, especially in the reveal in 1666 is like, Oh, yeah, everything is so much easier for a straight white guy. Everyone believes him and things usually go their way, and I’m saying that as a straight white guy. I understand how privileged I’ve been in this world. I think I was born in the top 1% as far as lottery wins.
To wrap things up, as a curiosity, did you read the Fear Street books growing up? Because you’re a ’90s kid like I am. So, we were all Goosebumps and maybe Fear Street.
Jeremy Ford: No, I didn’t read the Fear Street books growing up. I remember my school library in elementary school had just rows and rows of Goosebumps, and everyone I knew read Goosebumps. The last thing I wanted was to be scared. That was just when I was a kid. So, I didn’t read them or anything like that. But when I came onto the Fear Street movies, I started talking to people our age about that, because I didn’t really really know about Fear Street. Fear Street was kind of a new thing to me. So, I reached out to everyone in the same way, like there’s these books called Fear Street, and everyone I talked to was like, “Oh my god, I love those books. I grew up on those. They are my favorite.” I somehow sort of missed the train, but it made me even more excited to be a part of these movies, and I knew they were going to be special out of the gate, especially when Netflix came on board. I knew what a big deal this was just for me personally, and as an actor, but I also felt a sense of responsibility for RL Stine superfans. They’re rabid. You can see it all over social media.
The FEAR STREET TRILOGY is now available exclusively on Netflix. To learn more about how Director Leigh Janiak tackled the trilogy, check out our interview! Or, to learn more about Julia Rehwald’s experience shooting the trilogy, go here!
This interview was edited for clarity and length.
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