The Fear Street trilogy was definitely a highlight of my summer and the most fun I had watching horror movies in a while. Having grown up on R.L. Stine books and being a fan of Leigh Janiak and her work on Honeymoon, I was looking forward to the movies. That said, I wasn't prepared for how much the cast and crew would excel at balancing fun, scares, and brutal kills, with characters you care about, a cohesiveness across the three films, and a poignant reminder that the problems and evils of the past are still around today.
During the initial release of a film, it's often tough to conduct a deep dive interview or get into spoilers, which is why I recently caught up with Kiana Madeira to discuss all things Fear Street, including first auditioning for the role, preparing for a time shift in 1666, and her excitement for future films:
How did you first get involved with Fear Street? Were you familiar with Leigh Janiak and her previous work on Honeymoon?
Kiana Madeira: I met Leigh Janiak for the first time at a callback for a pilot she was directing called Panic in 2018. I didn't get the callback for that specific project, but, months later, I got an audition through my agency for Fear Street, and I saw that Leigh's name was attached. I loved working with her for the little bit of time that we had before, and I was excited to read for these movies.
There was a very vague breakdown of what the trilogy would be, so I didn't have all the details yet, but I was excited to be auditioning for Leigh again. As the auditions progressed, I was told more about the trilogy and was sent drafts of all three scripts. With every audition, I just got more and more excited about it, and by the final chemistry read, I was in love with the characters that I was going to play. Just the idea of working with Leigh and doing something like this was really exciting to me. I watched her movie Honeymoon and absolutely loved it, so I knew she was an expert in horror. It has all been such a blast. Honestly, it feels like a dream.
The Fear Street trilogy pays homage to many classic horror films, while subverting tropes and doing its own thing. Growing up, did you watch a lot of horror movies and/or read horror books? What are some of your favorites?
Kiana Madeira: I love horror movies! I like experiencing many different emotions and feeling scared is one of them. I read that when people watch horror films, there's a small release of dopamine into their bloodstream. We innately like to be scared and there's something about Fear Street and horror films that feels good.
I am a horror fan that started reading the Goosebumps books when I was six or seven years old. I loved R.L. Stine as a kid, and I liked being scared from the Goosebumps books, as well as the Goosebumps television show.
When working with Leigh Janiak and preparing for this role, were there any specific books you read or movies you watched as reference?
Kiana Madeira: We [the cast] watched The Goonies to get the sense of the friendship between the characters and the fun that we wanted to be at the center of these stories. Scream was also a great reference point. It really was the first of its kind in terms of being self-aware, and there are definitely moments in Fear Street that pay homage to Scream, but do things in their own way. There are also lines that reference Jaws, with my character saying something like, "This isn't like the movie." And then there were a couple of other films that Leigh told us to watch to help prepare for 1666: The Village and The New World.
Fear Street: 1994 does a great job of balancing fun with scares, and some surprisingly gory deaths. It seems like this must have been a blast to film, and it feels like everyone was having fun during the shoot. Can you talk about your experience making the first film with the cast & crew?
Kiana Madeira: You said it right! It was definitely a blast and it was certainly intense. Filming 1994 was such a great way to dive into the whole world, and working with the cast was absolutely amazing. From day one, we came ready to work hard and also ready to have fun. And I think that definitely translates on screen, because these characters are going through so much and there's blood and gore, but it's also very adventurous.
As an actor, having fun and having chemistry with one another is always such a bonus and always added to the dynamics of the trilogy as a whole. I was born in 1992, so I wasn't a teenager in 1994 like Deena was, but I feel like being surrounded by the little details that were on set really helped us surrender to that world. Having the Blockbuster movie cassette covers, computers with dial-up internet, and even the furniture and the aesthetic of the sets was a great entrance into the universe of Fear Street. Moving from 1994, we knew what it was like to kind of go back in time, and it really helped us prepare for the 1666 movie, which we filmed second.
Shifting gears to 1666, was it a challenge to adjust to the new character, accent, and different sets?
Kiana Madeira: Luckily, we had been working on the accent from the very beginning of the first movie. On the weekends, we would work with our dialect coach, Charlotte Fleck, so that by the time we got to 1666, our accents would be lived in. It was very important that the transition was as seamless as possible, and I really felt that we accomplished that.
One of the great things about these movies is that the cast weaves in and out of the timelines, so you have the same crew working together on a singular vision. The world and story feels so cohesive, even though the year and visual style may change.
Kiana Madeira: The tone and the vibe of 1666 is so different from 1994, but our work ethic really was the same, which allowed me to feel like I was continuing to play in the same world. Even though everything about it was different, it still felt like we were grounded in our 1994 characters, but then living in this different world in 1666. They built the village set specifically for our movie, and being in Georgia and filming in the heat, it really made our jobs a lot easier as actors.
When you originally read the script and you knew where the story was heading, what were your thoughts about the fact that the first movie sets up Sarah Fier as what seems like this evil entity that's causing everything, but it turns out to be the Goode family all along. Even though some of the events took place in 1666, it feels like a story and lesson that’s still very important today.
Kiana Madeira: Yes, 100%. I love scripts and stories that have twists and are unpredictable, and I think it really reflects the world that we're living in. There are things in the world today that aren't what they seem, whether it’s people in positions of power, or even people that we meet in our everyday lives. I feel like we're so quick to assume the truth behind the things that we're told, and these movies do such a great job at highlighting the fact that there's a lot that is just swept under the rug by people that are in positions of power, like Sheriff Nick Goode.
These films shine a light on systemic oppression, because we have the Goode family front and center, and they seem like they're the good people, but we learn that the people that have been cursed and marginalized are actually the good ones in the end. I love that these movies have a constructive societal message and that they portray the world that we're living in.
So often, LBGTQ characters and their relationships are hidden or non-existent in horror movies, so it’s really refreshing to have Deena and Samantha’s relationship out in the open to the viewers. It know it means a lot to people for Fear Street to have have openly queer characters and a relatively happy ending, where these characters and their relationship survive.
Kiana Madeira: That was so important to me. I love the fact that this story was being centered around a queer love story between two women. In fact, there've been so many tropes in the past, including one that's known as “bury your gays,” in which the characters wouldn't even make it past the first act, or the first pages of a script. And to see not just one movie, but an entire trilogy centered around a queer love story and one that survives in the end was so important to me.
We go back to 1666, and we see what Sarah Fier and Hannah Miller went through, and how history has a way of repeating itself, and it's still happening in 1994. It’s so important to have the representation of the queer community on screen, and to tell a story that takes marginalized groups of people, people of color and the queer community, and puts them at the front and center and also allows them to survive, that’s so empowering and so important, and I hope for many more stories [like this] to come in this genre and in the industry as a whole.
This trilogy will definitely help open doors for more diverse stories. There’s a lot of work to still be done, but whether it’s a year from now or a kid that sees Fear Street as their first movie and it inspires them to become a filmmaker, hopefully this trilogy’s success can help propel diverse stories even further.
With the pandemic going on longer than expected, people definitely turn toward entertainment. Speaking for myself, I’ve had a tough time watching really serious or depressing films, and it was really special to have the Fear Street trilogy as this fun summer event. It’s been great to see people online get so into the films as well. What has the experience been like for you having the film released via Netflix as a big summer event?
Kiana Madeira: It's been incredible. We saw these movies in 2019 and that was way before anyone could predict what would happen with the global pandemic, so I didn't expect it to be a whole movie event on Netflix. Things have been hard for a lot of people and it has been a blessing that we're able to connect with so many people. It’s been an honor to connect with so many fans through social media and talk with many people I wouldn’t have been able to connect with before. It’s all been such a roller coaster.
And although this was a movie event this summer, there's another season that's perfect for Fear Street and I’m looking forward to seeing if people dress up for Halloween as Deena, Sam, or some of the killers. I think there's so many possibilities for the Fear Street universe and I'm really grateful to be a part of it.
There’s that tease at the end, hinting that there may be further adventures in the Fear Street universe. Would you be interested in coming back for more Fear Street movies?
Kiana Madeira: I'd love to work with everyone again and anything that Leigh Janiak does. I love Leigh and she's so inspiring to me. I would 100% love to make some more Fear Street movies, and feel like there's an endless world of possibilities. There are over 50 books that R.L. Stine wrote in that universe, so there’s a lot of potential. There’s that little teaser at the end of the movie and I've been thinking about who could potentially have taken the book. I love reading everyone's theories online and seeing how excited fans are for another movie.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your experience on the Fear Street trilogy! What’s your next project and where can readers follow you on social media?
Kiana Madeira: I'm in a movie coming out this fall called After We Fell. It's the third film of the After franchise, so you can keep an eye out for that. And my Instagram is @kianamadeira, where I love to share my perspectives and connect with fans.
The Fear Street trilogy is now available on Netflix and make sure to also check out for my in-depth interview with Julia Rehwald, where we talk about her character's memorable demise!