After having led the past two successful installments, Scream 7 has fired Melissa Barrera from its cast. Also known for In the Heights and Vida, Barrera starred in both 2022’s Scream and its follow-up as Sam Carpenter, the older sister to Jenna Ortega’s Tara who is revealed in the first movie to be the daughter of original Ghostface killer Billy Loomis and finds herself targeted by various new killers. Though theories continued to tout her as the potential next Ghostface, she instead remained one of the key survivors across both movies alongside Tara, Mason Gooding’s Chad Meeks-Martin and Jasmin Savoy Brown’s Mindy Meeks-Martin.
A few months after the sequel was finally confirmed in development at Spyglass, Variety (via SlashFilm) has brought word that Barrera was fired from Scream 7’s cast. Sources report that the removal of the Sam Carpenter actor was not part of the original plan for the sequel, but instead stems from her recent pro-Palestinian posts that stirred up controversy online, stating that they ventured over the line of using “an antisemitic trope that Jews control the media.” The post in question has sparked division among fans of the actor as some are already criticizing the decision as “misconstruing” her message.
Barrera’s firing isn’t the first infamous casting shuffle the Scream franchise has encountered in recent years, with original final girl and star Neve Campbell memorably declining a return for Scream 6 due to feeling the pay offer did not meet her worth. Directing team Radio Silence confirmed prior to the 2023 sequel’s release that some changes were made to the original vision and script for the movie due to her exit, including some of “the motives” for various characters, though indicated that the overall structure remained intact.
With the movie having worked around Campbell’s absence with dialogue from Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers that Sydney went into hiding with her family over taking the fight to the next Ghostface, it seems likely that Scream 7 will take a similar path to addressing Barrera’s firing. This could, however, prove a major setback for the movie’s development as Sam was a far bigger player in the recent sequels in comparison to Sydney, whose initial return was seen as something of a passing of the torch to the next generation of characters. Additionally, with her refusing to leave Tara’s side, this casting change would necessitate putting Ortega at the forefront.
The key issue with taking this path is finding a way to balance Ortega’s increasingly busy schedule with filming Scream 7. The rising star recently wrapped filming on Beetlejuice 2, but is still expected to return to shooting her hit Netflix show Wednesday for season 2 in early 2024 now that the SAG-AFTRA strike has lifted. With the movie likely still in the early stages of development, Barrera’s departure will likely push the start of production to later next year, unless the studio finds a way to move forward with the actor and return to the original Sam plan.