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Why The Police Called The Set Of Scream In The Middle Of Filming

Knowingly calling 911 in the absence of a "real" emergency could result in a misdemeanor charge or a fine up to thousands of dollars, or both, depending on the state. It's critical to the safety of the general public that access to these lines remain as unobstructed as possible so that those who actually need help (like people being chased through their homes by Ghostface, for example) can get it.

But what happens if you commit this offense without knowing you're doing it? This is what happened to Drew Barrymore on the set of the 1996 horror film Scream, and while she didn't get in trouble, the production did end up having to explain itself to the police.

In the opening 15 minutes of Wes Craven's classic, we witness the shocking death of one of America's sweethearts. Drew Barrymore had originally signed onto the film to play the lead role of Sid, which Neve Campbell is now famous for. But as Barrymore recalls, she decided that it would be a better homage to the horror genre to play a character that defied expectation and convention by getting murdered gruesomely at the beginning of the movie, so she requested to play the role of Casey (via Huffington Post). It's a considerably smaller role, but arguably just as memorable for that very reason.

A mysterious phone call

The film begins with the unfortunate Casey receiving an enigmatic and increasingly sinister phone call that escalates into a series of threats, prompting her to call the police. Casey doesn't really get a word out on these phone calls, only having time to scream in terror as Ghostface shows up on the other side of the window. But in real life, not only did Barrymore receive scary phone calls during these takes, the actress actually ended up making a series of calls that were probably just as mysterious and alarming to their recipients as Ghostface's threatening calls were to Casey.

As prop master J. P. Jones recalled in the 2011 documentary Still Screaming, due to a surge in the generator on set, he had been unable to successfully unplug the phone that Barrymore was using. She was supposed to be dialing 911 on a disconnected line with no one on the other end, after which she would scream and then hang up as her character does in the film. After multiple takes in which she repeated this action over and over, the police — who had, in fact, been on the other end of the line each time — finally called the set of Scream in the middle of a take and demanded to know what was going on. Clearly, Barrymore was giving quite the convincing performance.