Previously Known For: As Sidney Prescott in Scream and as Julia Salinger in Party of Five
|Currently Known For: As LeAnn Harvey in House of Cards|
“I’m always sad I left dance. I’m just in my element when I’m in the dance world. I’m so much more content in my heart when I’m sitting on a dance floor in a studio. It sounds so cheesy but it’s just my home, it’s where I grew up. I’ve been doing it since I was six. It makes so much more sense to me than anything else I do.” Long before she built her reputation as the Scream queen, Neve Adrianne Campbell came into this world on October 3, 1973 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada where her mother was a psychologist and yoga instructor while her father taught high school drama. Despite being raised in a rough and tumble household alongside three brothers, Campbell dreamed of becoming a ballerina after seeing a performance of The Nutcracker. She studied dance at the Erinvale School of Dance and at the National Ballet School of Canada before a string of injuries took her off the dance floor for good.
With ballet no longer an option for her future, Campbell ventured into acting at 15 years old when she made her stage debut in a production of The Phantom of the Opera. She made her television debut in a commercial for Coca Cola at 18 years old and then snagged a starring role on the popular Canadian series, Catwalk, from 1992 to 1994. From there, she made appearances in The Kids in the Hall, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Are You Afraid of the Dark. Then, she caught the biggest break of her early career when she was cast as Julia Salinger on Party of Five, which earned her a Golden Globe Award in 1996 as she made her way to the silver screen in The Craft and Scream. “None of us really thought it would be huge,” Campbell said of Scream, which earned over $173 million at box offices worldwide. “We would literally sit together at night after long days, covered in blood and we’d say, ‘Do you think that maybe there might be a Halloween costume?’ Twenty years later, I still see them.”
Reprising her role as Sidney Prescott in Scream sequels like Scream 2 in 1997, Scream 3 in 2000, and Scream 4 in 2011, Campbell took home an MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance for Scream 2 as renowned film critic Roger Ebert praised her performance. “The camera loves her,” he wrote. “She could become a really big star and then giggle at clips from this film at her AFI tribute.” Ebert was right on the money as Campbell wrapped up Party of Five at the height of her career in 2000.
“I don’t think I even knew what was happening,” she said of her overnight fame. “It was overwhelming and it was wonderful and I was certainly grateful for the work, but I was also working so hard…” Taking a brief hiatus after Party of Five, Campbell continued to dabble in film and appeared opposite William H. Macy and Donald Sutherland in Panic and opposite Sissy Spacek in Last Call. Receiving even more praise for her work in When Will I Be Loved in 2004, she returned to theater in 2006 when she starred in a production of Resurrection Blues followed by Love Song. In 2009, she returned to television as the star of NBC’s newest series, The Philanthropist, which was canceled after only eight episodes.
Amid her busy career in television and film, Campbell did the unthinkable when she bid farewell to Hollywood in the new millennium and moved to England where she hoped to rekindle her passion for acting. “I ended up in this very pop-culture American world, which I’m so lucky to have,” Campbell said of her decision to leave. “But, it wasn’t the work that I would have strove for. So, for me, it was important to try and do something different. I also needed a break, to be honest—and I took a break.”
Using her break to experience another culture and explore her opportunities as an actress abroad, Campbell also found love across the pond in 2005 when she started dating actor John Light, whom she met on the set of Investigating Sex in 2001. Engaged in December 2005, they returned to California in May 2007 to marry but spent most of their time in England until Campbell filed for divorce in June 2010. By then, she was more than ready to return to Hollywood and reprised her role in Scream 4 in 2011 before venturing over to television with credits in Titanic: Blood and Steel, Grey’s Anatomy and An Amish Murder.
Amid her return to Tinsel Town, Campbell found love a third time with actor JJ Feild in March 2012. Confirming rumors that they were expecting their first child, Campbell’s world completely changed in August 2012 when she welcomed her son, Caspian, into the world. Choosing to be even more selective with her projects, Campbell had good reason to step out of the spotlight to raise her son. “I’d been offered the leads in some network shows, but I’ve done that schedule, and 10 months a year, 17 hours a day, and that’s not who I want to be as a mom,” she said. “I want to be more present for Caspian than that, so I knew that what I wanted was a cable show with a good cast and good writing, and it was respected, and an ensemble where I’m not carrying it…”
Campbell found exactly what she was looking for in 2016 when she was cast as LeAnn Harvey on Netflix’s political thriller, House of Cards. Embracing her role alongside talented costars like Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, Campbell wrapped up the series in 2017 and is set to star in the 2018 film, Skyscraper. Beyond that, the 44-year-old Campbell says she’s always looking for the next great project, which is likely just around the corner. “For me, inevitably as an actor, it always come down to the scripts. And there’s not any specific kind of character that I’m dying to play,” she says.
Hinting that one day she would like to try her hand at directing, Campbell isn’t in a huge hurry as she still remembers some of the biggest moments of her career—like that time she introduced David Bowie on Saturday Night Live before she ever really knew who Bowie was. “It was also one of the most terrifying experiences of my life,” she says. “I was so young and not in touch with pop culture that I don’t think I was truly able to appreciate how incredible it was that I was working with him…” Today, we can’t imagine just how nervous a young actor might be to introduce one of the world sexiest and most talented women… Neve Campbell!