Ever since Scream (2022) was announced a certain contingent was hoping for one thing: the return of Scream 4’s Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). The horror hound seemingly died in the 2011 sequel but, as it was never seen on screen, a legion of franchise fans (including myself) have been convinced that Kirby is alive. And in the newest film, that theory is confirmed in a “blink and you’ll miss it” Easter egg. When we chatted with the team behind Scream, Radio Silence (co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and producer Chad Villella) they discussed Kirby and revealed that Panettiere almost returned for the fifth film.
“We wanted to answer the Kirby question in some way from the beginning,” co-director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin told Nerdist. “We just didn’t really know what that would be. There was a period during the pre-production where we thought we might be able to even get her in this movie. We had a zoom with her and she was lovely. And she was like, “I love Kirby, I’d love to be in it.”
So why didn’t Kirby’s return to Scream work out? “Honestly, the only reason she wasn’t in it is because we were so far down the road that it would have been an injustice to Kirby to sort of shoehorn her in,” he said. “But we did know that we wanted to somehow answer that at some point.”
The perfect moment came when the crew was doing post production. They were looking at the YouTube page where she would ultimately make her appearance. “It wasn’t originally a YouTube screen,” the co-director revealed. “It was going to be an interview with Rian Johnson talking about how great Stab 8 is. When scheduling made the Rian Johnson thing not work out, we designed the YouTube page and the first thing we said was, ‘This is where we can answer the Kirby thing. This is where we can let people know Kirby survived. We’ll make this an Easter egg.’ As soon as we did that, we’re like, ‘Oh, it’s great. It’s subtle.’ But it answers the thing we all wanted to know: did she live or die?”
Even though there was a passionate fanbase for Kirby and her return, this wasn’t just a bit of fan service. Scream’s creator Wes Craven had in the past teased that Kirby could have lived. “We went back to that Wes Craven quote,” Bettinelli-Olpin shared. ” And just thought, all right, let’s see that through.”
Though the Easter egg might have been missed by many, the crew was excited because they knew that the people who loved Kirby would spot it. “We also just loved giving that piece of information in such a small way,” he explained. “We know that the fans that really genuinely care about Kirby and are in the did Kirby live or die debate are watching things that closely.”
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures