Hello, readers! Welcome back for another installment of one of our featured columns here at Daily Dead, Deadly Dialogue: A Conversation on Cinema, in which we catch up with notable folks from the horror and sci-fi genres—both in front of and behind the camera—and discuss the films that inspired them to become the artists they are today.

With this week’s home media release of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to catch up with the film’s co-stars, Michael Gross and Jamie Kennedy, and hear what they had to say about what got them hooked on the idea of pursuing their dreams in Hollywood.

Jamie Kennedy: I think the desire came from watching John Hughes’ movies when I was a teenager, particularly The Breakfast Club. I still think The Breakfast Club was one of the greatest movies ever to me, and when I watched it, all the lines just hit me. All the characters, too—John Bender, Claire, and Anthony Michael Hall as the geek—they all just struck me at the right age, and I was just like, "This is so amazing," and it made me want to do it.

I didn't know if I wanted to be an actor exactly, I just knew that I loved that movie, and I wanted to be a part of something that could resonate like that. When we were making Scream some 11 years later, I thought to myself, "Man, imagine if our movie can make any kind of impact like that." Not that we could touch the legacy of [The] Breakfast Club, but I thought we might have a chance to hit this new generation of audiences with something different. And when it opened, I couldn't believe that Scream became as big as it was. I don’t know if you can really compare the ways those films affected pop culture, I just felt genuinely thankful that we could make something that has lasted with the fans. And I don’t think my 15-year-old self would have believed what my 25-year-old self was able to be a part of.

Michael Gross: That moment occurred for me in undergraduate school. I had done a play in high school, a senior play, and I enjoyed it, and it was fun, and I had a good part, and I sang, and I danced and got to meet some neat girls, and all that sort of thing, and had a great time, but I never took it seriously. I was a very practical person. I thought, “People don't actually do that for a living, it's just something you do for fun.”

I was a freshman or a sophomore in college, and I walked into a free presentation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I had studied Shakespeare in high school to a degree, and I had an English teacher who was very big on Shakespeare, a man named Mr. Dydak, and Mr. Dydak used to read it aloud to us. His Romeo and Juliet was amazing.

But I just never quite got it. So, when I walked into this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, I was transformed, because I had never seen Shakespeare’s work that way before. It came alive to me. It wasn't just this kind of semi-difficult language on a page; it was on its feet through these living, breathing people.

It was a stupendous production, and I was overwhelmed. The man who directed that became my first real acting teacher, director, mentor, and lifelong friend some 33 years ago, and he was the best man at my wedding. He's still alive, too. He's 80 years of age, and still running a theater, if you can believe it. 

So, when I wound up in a play directed by that same man, I never looked back. He made it exciting, the idea of being creative on the stage in front of other people. That that was an art form in itself was something I hadn't really appreciated until then. Also, I went on to work with some of those people in that production of Midsummer. Some became dear friends, and I did many plays with some of them, too. And, as a matter of fact, we had a reunion last fall, and it was just great to go back to the University of Illinois at Chicago and see some of those wonderful people again.

Photo Credit: Photo at top from Michael Gross' official Facebook page.

Next: Read Earlier Installments of This Series!
  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.