Melissa Barrera isn’t confirming that Jenna Ortega exited Scream VII in solidarity with her — but she is praising her costar for being a “good egg.”
“[Jenna is] a good person and we love each other,” Barrera, 33, told Rolling Stone in an interview published on Wednesday, January 24. “She would show up for me and I would show up for her no matter what.”
Barrera made headlines in November 2023 when it was reported that she was let go from the next installment of the horror franchise after she made pro-Palestine comments regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Spyglass, the production company behind the film, released a statement shortly after the news was released clarifying the reason for Barrera’s exit.
“Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech,” their statement to Variety read.
Days later, it was announced that Ortega, 21, would not be reprising her role in future movies. At the time, her departure was credited to scheduling conflicts with season 2 of her Netflix series Wednesday. Director Christopher Landon parted ways with the project shortly after, sharing via X that the job was a “dream” that “turned into a nightmare. And my heart did break for everyone involved. Everyone. But it’s time to move on. I have nothing.”
Barrera first appeared in 2022’s Scream, the fifth film of the franchise, as Billy Loomis’ (Skeet Ulrich) daughter, Sam. Ortega portrayed Tara, her younger sister. Both women returned for Scream VI, which hit theaters in March 2023. It was announced four months later that they would once again reprise their role for the seventh film.
Barrera initially broke her silence about being let go via her Instagram Story in November 2023, clarifying that despite Spyglass’ claims, “I condemn hate and prejudice of any kind against any group of people.” She noted that “as a Latina, a proud Mexicana,” she feels “the responsibility of having a platform that allows me the privilege of being heard.”
Barrera added that it was important to hear to use her platform as a way to “raise awareness about issues I care about and to lend my voice to those in need” and will “continue to speak out for those that need it most” as well as “continue to advocate for peace and safety, for human rights and freedom.”
While speaking to Rolling Stone, Barrera shared that she is “at peace” with the way she handled herself and her exit. However, when asked about Spyglass accusing her of “Holocaust distortion,” Barrera admitted she was surprised by the allegations.
“I’m not the first person that’s happened to, but it was shocking,” she explained. “I don’t even know what to say. I think everything that happened was very transparent, on both sides, and I know who I am, and I know that what I said always came from a place of love and a place of humanity and a place of human rights and a place of freedom for people, which shouldn’t be controversial. It shouldn’t be up for debate.”
Since being let go, Barrera has continued to speak out in support of a ceasefire in Gaza.
“The people who know me in my family know the truth about me and where I stand, and I think most people in the world also do,” she said, noting that a ceasefire is for “the well-being of both sides of that wall, you know? An end to the violence. That’s it. An end to the violence for everyone’s peace and security. Just… humanity.”
This isn’t the first issue the new iteration of Scream films have run into when it comes to casting. Never Campbell, who portrayed final girl Sidney Prescott in the first five installments, revealed in June 2022 that she would not appear in Scream VI due to salary discrepancies.
“Sadly, I won’t be making the next Scream film,” she told Us Weekly in a statement at the time. “As a woman I have had to work extremely hard in my career to establish my value, especially when it comes to Scream. I felt the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise.”
As for her future with the franchise, Campbell, 50, told Variety earlier this month that she would be open to coming back “under the right circumstances.” She also noted that she hoped the Scream legacy would continue despite the drama, saying, “I honestly don’t have no idea what their plans are. I know a lot has gone on around it and I’m sure they’re spinning a little bit at the moment.”
“These movies mean a lot to us and they mean a lot to the fans,” she continued. “I go to these conventions sometimes and I meet the fans and they’re frantic about these films. They love them. These films mean a lot to them and these characters mean a lot to them. So even for their sake, I would love to see it continue.”