Exclusive Interview with Scream’s John Karna

Photo Credit: Chris Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Chris Fitzgerald

John Karna plays the smart, witty Noah Foster on MTV’s Scream. Noah has an affinity for pop culture and love for his best friend Audrey. The similarities are apparent between the fictional Noah and his portrayer John, whom I had the pleasure of speaking to. We chatted about Game of Thrones, Bex Taylor-Klaus (who plays Audrey), and of course, Scream itself. Read what he had to say about it all below.

Let me just start off by saying that I really love the show so far. I was a big fan of the original series and I think you guys have done a really good job capturing the essence of it.

“Oh man thank you! That’s such a pleasure to hear. That was the one thing I was really worried to hear about was whether or not Scream fans were going to be digging the show.”

 What was the audition process like for Scream?

“I auditioned for it last summer. I think some time around May. It was interesting because I think I heard that they went through like a thousand kids or something. Apparently the audition process was just insane and they saw so many people. I actually didn’t hear anything back for like months and I thought I didn’t get it. [Laughs]. I started like moving on to other things and then I heard back much later. They were like “actually we want to test you for the part”, and I was like “Oh that’s awesome!” Ever since then, getting the role felt like a really amazing gift. I’m very lucky to be able to do this.”

Did you originally audition for Noah?

 “I did originally audition for Noah. The audition was a monologue that wasn’t actually in the show. It was this big long Meta monologue and I was just thinking, “It’s so sweet to be able to do this”.”

 Noah’s monologues are actually one of my favorite parts about the show.

 “Yeah totally! When I first read the script, that was the stuff that really drew me in. I’m glad that they’re keeping the spirit of Scream alive with the Meta tone. I was really excited to be able to play that.”

I also noticed every time he goes off into one of those monologues the same music comes in. Have you taken a notice to the musical aspects of the show?

“The strings are amazing! I love the music on the show so much. I think it really sets the tone for Noah and the show in general.”

You guys just wrapped for this season. I know you filmed out in Baton Rogue, what was it like to film out there as a cast all together?

“It was SO HOT. I’m from Houston originally, so I thought I would be used to the heat in the south. I lived in the south for most of my life. But, when you’re shooting outside in the middle of the day it is like impressive. [Laughs]. It kind of added an interesting element to the whole thing. This kind of pervading sense of something, I don’t know, Louisiana was crazy in that way. I actually think it added to the show a lot.

It was something where we were all in this bubble together making this show. We all ended up living very close to each other. Four of us literally lived in the same building. It was kind of like going back to college, which was beautiful. It was so cool to be able to something together and then watch the public perceive it.”

When they showed the pilot at the LA film festival I saw a bunch of tweets from other MTV stars. MTV seems like one big happy family. Do you ever talk to anyone from other MTV shows or do you guys like stick to your own squad?

“The LA film fest was where I first met some of those guys. I know we all went to Comic-Con and while I was there we all hung out. We were with the Teen Wolf cast. Tyler Posey is such a cool dude! I was so surprised. You watch MTV shows, and you think they’re a certain way, but everyone was just so awesome. It was cool to be a part of that. Teen Wolf is on their 5th season now, and they’re all so cool it’s amazing!”

Noah knows everything! From Pretty Little Liars to local serial killer facts. I know you’re obviously supplied with character bio,  but going into it do you create a sort of back story for yourself?

“Yeah totally! It’s definitely something I like to look into. We don’t really know about Noah’s family life. We don’t know about his parents at this point in the show, and so I would definitely fill in those spaces.

I thought about the way that him and Audrey became friends. We all got together in a group. We went through things and made up little moments that happened in our lives before, that lead to where we are in the show.

It helped a lot. It really helped that we’re all such good friends because we were able to chill and have a good time while we did it. It didn’t feel like work.”

That’s interesting it’s almost similar to what the fans do. As fans we take what we see and then we create our own things based off of it, so knowing that you guys do as well is kind of comforting.

“Yeah you know I bet we could write some good fan-fic like Emma/Audrey The Breakup.

I think fan fiction is the coolest thing! I think it’s so badass. I recently read an amazing script about a kid who writes fan fiction. It’s really cool. It does get crazy sometimes though! They sometimes write it with real people like Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers.

In all honestly though, it’s so beautiful. Fan fiction is so cool because it’s these people creating their own stuff. They get to talk to each other about it, and I think it’s such an amazing community.” 

I know your character Noah and Bex’s character Audrey are best friends on the show; both you and Bex seem awesome do you click off-screen as well?

“Bex is the coolest! Meeting her was so cool I didn’t really know what to expect. I was such a big fan of her from other stuff. I was kind of nervous, but she’s really the coolest person. We have so much fun off set, and now that we’re all back in LA together it’s going to be nice to just like hang out.

Bex is like honestly the nicest sweetest girl. She’s kind of like the social media guru for all of us. We don’t really know how to do it as well. She KILLS it. I gotta get on her level. [Laughs].”

On the surface, Noah seems like the typical genius high school guy. He’s too sarcastic for his own good. But then we get some glimpses where he’s downright scary.

Especially in the pilot when Audrey asks why they would think that he killed Nina and he says, “why not? Hated the way she treated you”.

How did you like playing both sides of the spectrum? Where one moment the audience feels for you and in the next they’re kind of scared?

“It’s something that we definitely wanted to do from the beginning. We wanted to make every single person on this show be someone who could potentially resort to violence. Noah has a bit of a vindictive side. It’s something that I take after also.

I remember in high school, I’d be like “oh man you were mean to me” and then years down the road I’d hold a grudge. With Noah painting “douche” on Jake’s car and all that, it’s interesting to see that side of him come out a bit. I kind of wonder if it’s going to make him more of a target; we’ll see.

We have some really exciting theories on set! I can’t really say any of them because I don’t want to mess anything up, but they’re interesting. Things get really exciting as the show goes on and every time we got a script we would all get together and look at each other like “what are you hiding?!”

The scripts are brilliant in that every week you can kind of change your opinion at any point.”

Noah took Riley’s death pretty hard. Will we see the effects of it on him more throughout the season?

 “You know what’s really cool with this show is that because we get to stretch things out and take it in such a serialized way, we do get to deal with the deaths of our friends. It definitely will ripple throughout the season; I hope Noah can channel it. I think as the season goes on you’ll see Noah really searching for the truth now that he’s really connected.

One of the things that I loved about him so much in the beginning is that he deals with high school, but he also pushes through it, because he knows that he’s ahead of everyone. He knew that he would design some app or something that would make billions of dollars.

He kind of knew that he didn’t have to play the High School game as much as everyone else. Then Riley happened and he got sucked into that game. Now he’s completely in it. [Laughs]/ I’m excited to see how Noah plays the game a bit more.

It was so sad to say goodbye to Brianne (Riley) she was such a brilliant actress and so sweet. That’s another thing about this show, we’re all such good friends that when somebody does go, we feel it in the cast just as much as the characters do.”

 That whole scene was so unexpected to me! I don’t know why someone getting killed in a thriller show surprised me though [Laughs]. Are there a lot more moments like that?

“That’s awesome! That’s the goal! Noah mentions it in the pilot. We kind of make it so that people are like “oh they wouldn’t actually kill that person” or “they wouldn’t do that so soon.” There are definitely more moments like that as the season continues. I think they will make the audience go crazy.”

I even thought it was surprising to kill Nina (Bella Thorne) off so quickly!

“What’s cool about her character is that she kind of has this crazy reputation in the high school. She was a mean person, and she did all of this crazy catty stuff. Everybody knows who she was and what she did and that kind of vibe will travel with everyone as the season goes on. We’re always kind of wondering what Nina was up to, and maybe she’s up to some kind of darker stuff.” 

I heard that the cast are big fans of Game of Thrones, which house do you put yourself in?

“Oh man! Which house do I WANT to be in? They all have such problems I’m trying to think of a nice one. I think I’d want to be a Tyrell. I think that would be really nice. At the same time they’re so intense.

You know what I would probably end up being like a steward on the wall, like just hanging out. I would want to be an advisor for Daenerys she’s so awesome. Emila Clarke is great.

Apparently she got that job within like a year of graduating from acting school, which is just insane that she catapulted into this amazing role.” 

You seem like someone who likes to nerd out about stuff. I was at comic con this year, and I did the whole camping out waiting in line for HOURS thing. Is there anything you would wait for hours for?

“I would wait in line for that Star Wars panel in a minute! I was so bummed I couldn’t do that. I heard people were like waiting for days before that, which is insane, but I get it. The coolest part about Comic Con was when we were all walking and we saw these Storm Troopers going to the panel! When they went up the escalator they all had their guns up like they were standing guard! It was like the coolest thing, but yeah I would’ve totally waited in line for the Star Wars panel.”

I know you guys joked about being scared to read your scripts every week because you were afraid that you were going to get killed each week. Riley’s death last week honestly took me by surprise, without spoiling anything, has there been moments where you’ve been completely surprised by a direction the writers have gone in?

“Nearly every week I’ve been surprised. [Laughs]. The show has these really amazing “holy shit” moments where when we got the script we were surprised.

The writers really love to change the game and raise the stakes! There were definitely moments where we were like “this is crazy”.

It’s awesome to look at it and say “hey this is the show that we’re on and the show that we’re doing”. It’s nice. I think the audience is really gonna dig it.”

I really like the shot of Noah, Audrey and Emma from under when you guys discovered the head and just screamed. What was it like working with different directors to get different shots like that?

“Brian Dannelly directed that episode and the one after, episode five. Brian is SO cool. He directed this movie “Saved”. It’s so good. A lot of us watched it in high school, and it was such a big thing in our theater class. I’m going on a tangent! [Laughs]. He’s such a cool guy and he had a really interesting way to shoot the show.

That’s what I love so much about this show. It brings in a lot of really cool directors. Like episode 7 there’s this really awesome woman, Leigh Janiak who directed an  awesome movie a year ago called Honeymoon. It’s like an amazing sort of horror love story, so it’s nice to see her take.

Then episode 9 Ti West is directing. We have all these really cool horror directors coming in and directing the show! I think it’s really cool to like get that credit, some “indie credit” for MTV if you will.

It really does feel like we’re working on something that sometimes, even though it is an MTV show, it’s still a pretty big production. MTV is really stepping it up lately!”

I mentioned you wrapping the season earlier, now that you’re finished, until season 2 starts at least. Are you going to chill out and enjoy your time off or do you have any projects lined up?

I’m pretty much just trying to find the next gig. I’m excited about a movie I worked on that I have a very small part in. It’s called Sugar Mountain and it was set in Alaska. We’re going to be in the Anchorage Film Festival.

It’s a really brilliant movie! Haley Webb who was actually in Teen Wolf for a bit is in it and she’s brilliant! I can’t say enough about Haley Webb she is so cool. Drew Roy who is in Falling Skies is also in it and, Jason Momoa, which is AMAZING! He was huge to me, since I’m obviously a Game of Thrones fan.

It was a pleasure to be a part of that movie. It’s a really cool movie so hopefully we’ll see how that goes in Anchorage.”

 Hollywood is insane everyone is connected!

“That’s so true! You know what’s even crazier; Carlson [Young] and I were in a movie a couple of years ago. It’s was this teen sex comedy called Premature. It’s about this kid who lives through a Groundhog Day experience. He keeps living through the same day over and over again, but in order to do that he has an orgasm every time!

Carlson is in this movie as the “hot girl” and I’m there as the “orgasming kid”. [Laughs]. It was just so crazy when we found out we were going to work together again. I mean we can’t get over all the connections!

Bobby Campo who plays Mr. Branson, he’s also in Sugar Mountain as well. He has a small part and we had no idea that we would be working together on Scream. It’s crazy. Everyone’s all connected.”

What has been your favorite scene of the show that we’ve seen so far?

“There have already been so many good ones! It’s going to sound bad to say this probably, but Riley’s death scene. It was such a crazy sequence. I love it. I remember seeing her shoot that. She had to climb these buildings downtown and Brianne [Tju] just completely killed it she’s so good, I don’t know, that really stuck out to me.

Then coming up there are some really good scenes between Noah and Emma. They get to hang out a bit and kind of try to solve the mystery together. I think that’s going to be cool. I’m excited to see how that plays out and to see how people like it.

We were all very excited when Noah and Emma started becoming friends. It’s kind of fun, Noah, Audrey and Emma sort of formed their own Scooby Gang. There was a line that was cut from the last episode where the girls were like “we’re not the Scooby gang” and then Noah goes “we totally are the Scooby gang!” [Laughs]. It’s a pretty funny line.

I’m really excited to see everything play out! There’s a lot of scary things coming up and I can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction. The amazing thing about this show is that it really builds. Like an amazing plays. The scream movies are so cinematic, and they’re so brilliant in that it almost feels like we’re watching a death opera. The killer comes out, and there’s this huge monologue, and this big fight scene, and there’s crazy music playing.

Scream follows a timeline. We can get to all of the hills and valleys of the story. It’s been such a pleasure to work on. It’s fun to kind of forge our own path separate from the movies. Television has already become so cinematic in the past years; just looking at Game of Thrones it’s crazy cinematic. It’s so cool the way television is morphing! Scream, I think does that also, and it’s been such a cool thing to do.”


Make sure to tune into Scream on MTV Tuesdays at 10!

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