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Why Fear Street’s Director Calls Her First Meeting With R.L. Stine ‘Such An Embarrassing Moment’

It’s still an open debate on whether or not people should ever meet their heroes, but even if you stand firmly against the prospect, you’d probably be open to meeting one of them at a moment’s notice. That’s exactly how Fear Street co-writer/director Leigh Janiak got to meet one of her all-time idols, best-selling YA author R.L. Stine, on the set of Fear Street: Part 3 - 1666. A huge fan of both the author and the literary franchise she adapted into a Netflix success story, Janiak’s first meeting with Stine was such a surprise that it was, in part, a rather embarrassing moment.

No one but nature was to blame, as this story came from the filming of Fear Street’s final entry, which recently debuted on Netflix. It all took place in the middle of a hot summer day that saw Leigh Janiak cooking up terror in the colony of Union, which eventually splits into Shadyside and Sunnyvale in the Fear Street world. As we spoke during the film’s press day, here’s how Janiak described her fateful meeting, which also counts as the largest geek out she got to have during the entire process:

I think that the biggest one was meeting R.L. Stine, although it was such an embarrassing moment for me. We were shooting movie three, the 1666 part, and we were at the village set. It was so hot and so gross out, and I don’t know we were like 10 hours into shooting. Someone came up to me and was like, ‘R.L. Stine is here today. Would you like to go meet him?’ I was like, ‘I mean, of course!’ I was so gross, I was sweaty and my braids were like ... full of humidity. It was like crazy, the humidity was insane.

The pressure on the production of a movie like Fear Street: Part 3 - 1666, or any installment in the ambitious trilogy that started its life as a 20th Century Fox project, was already insane enough. As an R-rated adaptation of the normally PG-rated source material, it was exactly the sort of project one would worry about during the Disney acquisition that saw Fox folded into their ranks. With all of that going on as Leigh Janiak was actually making the Fear Street movies, the future loomed over everything like a masked killer on the trail of their prey.

But just as Netflix’s acquisition of the Fear Street trilogy kind of saved the day, Janiak’s meeting with R.L. Stine went off without a hitch. At least, there weren’t any hitches to be spoken for, as she kind of had an out-of-body experience when speaking with the man himself. What she could say about their big hangout was as follows:

And I have no idea what I said. I had spoken to a lot of people in his kind of world, and part of his estate. But I had never met him, and I was just like, I felt like a real nervous fan; but it was incredible.

Nervous fan energy, while nerve-wracking to deal with, can be the ultimate fuel when getting the job done. As seen in all three parts of Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street trilogy, the world of R.L. Stine’s books was in the best hands it possibly could have been. Bloody, but still able to find very human moments in the carnage, all three films tell a story that feels at home in the softcover-bound world that graced bookstore shelves and library spinning racks for ages, and still do to this very day.

The future of the Fear Street world is wide open, as Leigh Janiak pitched the series as a “Marvel Universe of Horror,” and that sky is certainly the limit. All that has to happen is for Netflix to pull the trigger, and Ms. Janiak might have the chance to meet her childhood idol yet again. Though this time, she might try to make sure it’s on the set of a holiday themed entry, in the name of avoiding a repeat of that first meeting.

You too can stay cool with the Fear Street trilogy, as all three installments are now streaming on Netflix. (opens in new tab) But if you’ve already taken that dark and deadly path, Netflix has plenty more in store for you to enjoy. Check out the 2021 Netflix movie schedule and see what other films await in an already massive year for the streaming giant’s cinematic canon!

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.