La Frite is a tiny, unprepossessing restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, California. It's a line-drive single off the 405, not far from the famous, iconic boulevards and drives in these parts: Mulholland, Santa Monica, Wiltshire. The atmosphere is quiet, the lighting a bit subdued, and the food rustic. That said, it is excellent in every way, and in the back parking lot—valet, of course—the signs read "Armed guard on duty," and you will find the odd Escalade or Hummer amongst the crop of resting vehicles. Inside, there is both a reservation ("2 Campbell") and good espresso, not to be taken for granted anytime, anywhere. It is a perfect spot to meet Neve Campbell, whose silhouette as she graces the sunnily backlit entrance is completely unmistakable.
As an actor, Neve has sustained an interesting career marked by a wide variety of projects, many of them independent films, in a notoriously fickle business. She began on the boards, as they say, getting a part in the now-famous Toronto production of "The Phantom of the Opera". "I danced a bit, sang in the chorus, but an agent in the audience one night thought they saw something, and it really began from there," she says. This is not to be construed as random, or chance. "My dad was a drama teacher, and my mom ran a little dance school, so I grew up in a special environment. We did pantos all the time, growing up." Neve was in the National Ballet School of Canada and was a dancer before she was a professional actor in any meaningful way. "You train very seriously at a young age for dancing," she says.
Phantom led to a role in a Canadian television series called "Catwalk", and she says, "To this very day, I can walk down a street in Toronto and someone will call out, 'Hey, Daisy.'" She pauses, smiles. "I seem to get identified with my characters, in a way I never would have expected. So personal, so real."
Her next project was successful on a level that no one could have anticipated, except perhaps the producers, cast and crew. "Party of Five" ran for six seasons, and was an international hit. "It was a wonderful experience," says Neve. "The writers, producers, the cast—in some way I think it had to be a hit. The producers had done The Wonder Years, and were great at what they did. We all got along so well." Remarkably, it was not until this series that she thought of acting as a career. "It had never entered my head, to be honest. Until Season 3 or so, and then I realized I could do this for a living."
Then there was the seemingly prescient decision to take a role in "Wes Craven's Scream" in 1996 that confirmed Neve Campbell's career choice. "Scream" was an international phenomenon that lead to two sequels, both of which she starred in as well. But it would be a mistake to think that she segued from role to role, making the best of opportunities. "I was insecure at first, certainly. You don't start out in this career picking and choosing. So I was guessing at some things—but like in dance, I knew if I did the work, it would pay off eventually. At first, choice really doesn't come into it that much. You are starting out—it is definitely a struggle, so when a part comes your way, generally you take it. After some success, you can choose a little more, but roles are so difficult to get."