The following interview contains heavy spoilers for Scream (2022), but none for Scream VI (2023).

WHEN MOST people see Mason Gooding this month, it'll be on the big screen for Scream VI, his second tussle with Ghostface as part of the new "requel" iteration of the long-running slasher whodunit franchise. He plays Chad Meeks-Martin, part of the self-proclaimed "core four" (also including characters played by Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, and Jasmin Savoy Brown). Most of his role takes place, predictably, under duress; fear of being stabbed by a knife-wielding lunatic is A1, yes, but surely a romance with Tara (Ortega, who has quickly become one of the industry's buzziest and most exciting stars), causes some youthful anxiety as well.

There's not a hint of that sheepishness in Gooding—who is the son of Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.—when he's walking shirtless through the halls of his Men's Health photoshoot, flashing a big smile and starting a gregarious conversation with anyone he comes in contact with. He's just finished modeling the best denim looks of the season for MH, and, within a moment, will be wearing his own clothes: a Guns N' Roses T-shirt and his best pair of jeans.

"Guns N Roses is a favorite," he says, covering his tracks for now. "But I have a bunch of shirts for bands, embarrassingly, that don't have music I listen to as much. I try to keep every band to one I at least am familiar with, so it's never a question of like, Oh, are you a fan of them? Or do you just the way the t-shirt looks? We know the answer is always the latter. But I like to indoctrinate myself, somewhat, into the fan base to at least contribute in that way."

preview for Train Like Mason Gooding | Men's Health

OK, fair enough. Gooding, 26, has the kind of personality where he's so positive, so charming, and so seemingly into everything, that you'll find yourself agreeing with him on just about anything. Luckily, that wasn't too necessary; Gooding is a huge Scream fan, and found himself talking with the biggest Scream fan on the Men's Health staff.

When it comes to Scream, horror movies, and those Marvel rumors that just won't quit, we had questions—and he had answers.

Men's Health: Having now been in both Scream and Scream VI, what is it like to be attacked by a maniac in a Ghostface mask?

Mason Gooding: Specifically as it relates to the fifth one, I would say because of the nature of my altercation it was incredibly stressful and tiresome—because he pops out and chases me down. And I noticed how physically taxing it was to get chased. I was like, oh, I don't want this for anybody. This sucks. You're running, and you try to match your adrenaline in those moments to how it would be in real life.

We would do one or two takes, and I like to think I'm a pretty in-shape guy. It wasn't until I would get to take three or four that I was like, wow, this is hard. And I'm sweating. There were a few times where the makeup artist would come over to spray me down for more sweat, and she was like, Well, you don't need it. If anything, I can offer you a towel.

mason gooding
Bonobos’s denim shirt is casual but sharp, with extra stretch and trim to show off biceps gains. White jeans dress it up for a dinner out. (Bold move if you choose a red-sauce joint.) Get the Look: Shirt by Bonobos; Jeans by Emporio Armani; Chain by All Saints; Watch by Zenith. Opening Image: Jacket by Daily Paper; Tank by Calvin Klein; Jeans by Abercrombie & Fitch; Sneakers by Vans; Chain by All Saints.

Before we get to the new movie, let's start with last year's—Scream (2022). Was the ending we saw the only one that was filmed?

The decision to end the movie with those survivors was always the plan. What altered even prior to us filming but as late as my arrival in North Carolina, was that Chad, my character, was supposed to be dead. It was made clear to me that at some point from when they started pre-production to the actual first day of filming, they had decided that Chad would stick around, which is nice.

It's also, a weird point of catharsis—because it felt like they had saved a life in doing so, which is such an actor/pretentious head-up-your-own-butt type of thing to say. Not to segue into the new movie, but that level of gratitude and appreciation of life in general is not lost on Chad, nor is it lost on me; he was literally supposed to be dead and then is very much alive and kicking.

I'm glad you went there. Did you think Chad was dead, even when you were filming that scene? Because it sure felt like he was dead.

They cut down the amount of times I was stabbed in that sequence from what it was originally.

I make fun of Jenna all the time, because, technically speaking, I got stabbed the most and lived. But there were certainly times where they went, all right, let's do one where it's possible that you would live. Because that time it felt like we're eeking into there's no possible way territory. And what is in the movie at least has an air of ambiguity.

That being said, I still watch it with my mom, and she's like: you should be dead, and thank you for making me watch that, because that's maybe my biggest nightmare.

mason gooding
For its 150th, Levi’s updates its skateboarder-inspired 501’s. The cropped cut is great for guys with bigger calves, and although they look trim, there’s lots of room in the waist, butt, and thighs. Get the Look: Sweatshirt by Buck Mason; Jeans by Levi’s; Sneakers by Converse.

But at least we get to see you give that thumbs up at the end.

The thumbs up at the end! That's right. All is well. They call them the magic blankets. At the end of Scream movies, you'll see characters who for all intensive purposes should be deceased just roll out in the blankets and everything is A-OK.

Like Dewey! RIP five times.

I know. Five times until the literal fifth time. Oh, bless.

Obviously you weren't in that scene, but did you know Dewey was going to die?

I feel like this story's been beaten to death, but they gave us false endings. I swore up and down that Mindy and Liv were the killers literally until after they had filmed the ending. As far as Dewey was concerned, they had discussed it.

Those moments have to be handled with such care and poignancy. If they had been ambiguous about it in the moment, it would've felt half-hearted or not as committed. But Dewey is such an integral part of the franchise. If you don't put every ounce of thought and think of every outcome that could come into it, it'll end up feeling disingenuous. And with how it was done, at least as a Scream fan myself, I felt as if it was incredibly respectful to his legacy and what he had done up until then.

scream 5 cast
Philippe Bossé

I saw an interview where Jenna said she couldn't stop laughing during one brutal scene. Is that the environment on these Scream movies?

That's always the funniest dynamic with horror movies; when edited, they are horrifying. I love horror. It's one of my favorite genres. But when you're filming, it almost feels like a comedy more often than not.

I don't know how you could stray away from that, considering Ghostface, more often than not, is sitting around drinking coffee or asking what you're doing after you wrap. So to then see that nonchalance turn into absolute ultra violence later is just funny. Especially because you know the stunt technician under the mask, and you know how difficult it is to be in that environment. It's hot in that thing, so I'm told.

You mentioned that you love horror movies. What are some of your favorites, and what's your favorite Scream movie that you do not star in?

That one's easy. The second Scream is my favorite. I do think the first one is the best, and that's the one I always recommend people when they talk about horror movies. But the second one begins the solidification of a lot of the themes and motifs that the first one had brought about in the cultural zeitgeist as a whole. I also love the opening so much.

My favorite film in general would be Green Room, the A24 movie.

Love Green Room.

Fucking incredible. And so tense and exciting and horrific. But if that doesn't count as a horror movie…

It absolutely counts.

Okay. Good.

mason gooding
Tommy Hilfiger works elastane, a stretchy fabric, into these functional jeans with flex. And the dark wash, coupled with a slim (not skinny) cut, helps them wear like a sleek pair of dress pants. Get the Look: Sweater by Todd Snyder; Jeans by Tommy Jeans; Boots by Clarks; Duffle Bag by Mack Weldon; Watch by Zenith; Socks by Bombas.

Which other were you going to say?

The other one would be Alien. Ridley Scott's OG Alien, because that was the first one I had watched at age 5 or 6, in New York by the way. First of all, it terrified me. The chest-bursting scene will go down as one of my favorite sequences in all of cinema. But the rest of it, from the production design and the aesthetic of the H.R. Giger influenced set design, stunning.

Chad is a new take on the jock character that we saw so many times in the '80s and '90s. What do you do to make him more grounded and not a cliche?

It's been a while since I've been in high school. And with the addition of Chad having gone through such a traumatic experience in Scream, I've always appreciated the way Chad doesn't necessarily question or push back against his relationship with his sister, who he does love very much. And they bicker as siblings do. But it's never from a place of jealousy or hierarchy. He's always willing to listen to Mindy describe certain dynamics, and I find that incredibly gratifying as a person, that he would allow his sister or a woman to just lay out rules or explain things.

And rather than question them, he listens, and allow it to affect the way that he operates thereafter. In the movies I've seen that portray jocks or football players, a lot of times they're headstrong or unwilling to give in to other people's thoughts and wants and desires and fears and aspirations. Chad's commendable for just being a good guy at his base, and trying to do what's best for the people around him. Which could all be a facade. Who knows? It would make sense that the most thoughtful people would be the most liable to stab you in the back.

mason gooding scream 5

Also, you and Jasmin just seem like siblings. It's perfect casting. You guys just have the chemistry.

Weird, isn't it? I could speak for hours on how much I love Jasmin Savoy Brown, and how exciting the prospect of acting opposite her from a familial standpoint is, and how satiating it is as an artist, because she's never wanted to back down from improv or suggestions to make the dynamic feel more authentic to siblings.

We talked before the filming of the fifth one. I feel like the relationship between twins usually takes on a more dominant and submissive persona. Maybe one calls the shots while the other is happy to execute thereafter. And clearly Chad is the submissive one between the two. He's aware that Mindy has a more cunning composition about her that he's both willing to buy into and also just takes as a matter of fact. It's why they bicker a lot, and he tries to assert himself in moments. And she's not really willing to hear it.

What was the biggest change from Scream to Scream VI?

I will say the energy present in New York very much pushes this movie to a breakneck pace of high-octane thrills and excitement. I didn't want to say action, though it's definitely action-packed; it's also just paced incredibly well, which sometimes means slowing it down a lot. And [directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett] know how to do that.

We know that Courteney Cox is back, but Neve Campbell, for the first time, is not. Was it weird not having her there?

I mean, you're talking to one of the biggest Scream fans in the world. I grew up on every one of her movies, not just Scream, by the way. Her film catalog has been monumental in my understanding of cinema in general. And I love her as a person. So not having her around every second of every day like we did on the last one felt, ultimately, like something that you just notice and take to heart.

I'd be lying if I said the creators, the people behind the camera and in front, haven't tried to put every step forward to please the fans and make a movie that ultimately is true to the legacy that came before it in the most honest way possible. Given the circumstances, I hope people enjoy it for that. Courteney is such a team player in a way that I don't know if I necessarily anticipated from her.

But yeah, listen, I hope they enjoy it. I hope people see the respect and the joy that was brought to the movie in its own right, and appreciate it and enjoy it in their own right.

mason gooding
Get the Look: Polo by Polo Ralph Lauren; Jeans by Mavi; Sneakers by Converse; Watch by Zenith.

I've also seen you mentioned often as a fan casting for Fantastic Four.

Oh really?

For Human Torch. If that were to ever come your way, is that something you'd be interested in?

First of all, the Fantastic Four is one of the more underrated properties in the whole Marvel lexicon. I try not to think too far forward about what it would be like to be a superhero I've admired for so long; I've seen Fantastic Four and specifically Human Torch on Twitter. And that's ultimately what led me to not be on Twitter as much, because I'll get so excited about the thought. I've always loved, specifically, fire superpowers, whether it was being a firebender in Avatar, or Shinra in Fire Force.

So, that particular character was so exciting to see anything about. But I try my best not to get caught up in that, because I will not be able to think about anything else in my day.

That seems like the right way to do it.

I will say that any rhetoric about who people would like to see as any Fantastic Four characters excites me, because that means people are excited about a Fantastic Four movie.

And whether it's me or somebody else, I would just be excited to see characters that I feel have been underrepresented up until now getting a true MCU-backed treatment. As a comic book nerd, that's exciting to me.

Complete Your Denim Look:
Wellthread Vintage Trucker Jacket
Levi's Wellthread Vintage Trucker Jacket
Shop at Levi
The RS01 Sneaker
Rothy's The RS01 Sneaker
Pegasus Turbo Next Nature sneaker
Nike Pegasus Turbo Next Nature sneaker
Prospex Save the Ocean Watch
Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Watch
The Sea Creatures Watch
Shinola The Sea Creatures Watch

This interview has been condensed for content and clarity.

Headshot of Evan Romano
Evan Romano

Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.