Robert Englund, the legendary actor known for his portrayal of Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, is the subject of an upcoming documentary titled “Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story.” With a career spanning various genres and roles, Englund humbly acknowledges the enduring legacy of Freddy Krueger while also recognizing himself as a character actor who has been fortunate in his career.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Englund’s journey is his early involvement in ’70s blockbusters. From reading for the role of Han Solo in “Star Wars” to encouraging his roommate Mark Hamill to audition for Luke Skywalker, Englund’s path was intertwined with iconic franchises. Additionally, he played a significant part in transforming Pasadena, California into a Midwest street for John Carpenter’s “Halloween” by gathering dead leaves. However, it was his role as Willie in the alien franchise “V” that provided Englund with his breakthrough.
During a break from filming “V,” Englund auditioned for Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The low-budget horror film became a surprise hit, leading to numerous sequels and solidifying Freddy Krueger as a pop culture icon. Englund noticed a cultural shift where horror was gaining recognition and respect, viewing it as the punk rock of cinema. He believes that the inclusion of pulp and melodrama in the horror genre contributed to its wider acceptance.
Although Englund last portrayed Freddy Krueger on film in 2003, the character was later recast for the 2010 remake. While acknowledging Jackie Earle Haley’s talent, Englund believes that a key change derailed the remake. In the original, Freddy was a child killer, but the remake depicted him as a child molester. Englund argues that this alteration eliminated the room for Freddy’s personality to shine through, leading to a less engaging portrayal.
When asked about the future of the franchise, Englund shared his thoughts on how to bring “Nightmare on Elm Street” into the modern era. He suggested incorporating technology and culture, possibly exploring the influence of an influencer and how Freddy could manifest himself within their subconscious. While Englund acknowledged that he is physically unable to reprise the role due to age and health issues, he expressed a desire to cameo in the series.
“I’m too old and thick to play Freddy now,” Englund says. “I just can’t do fight scenes for more than one take anymore, I’ve got a bad neck and bad back and arthritis in my right wrist. So I have to hang it up, but I would love to cameo.”
Interestingly, when it comes to a potential modern-day Freddy, Englund was impressed by a fan’s suggestion of Kevin Bacon. Citing Bacon’s respect for the genre and his skill as a physical actor, Englund believes that Bacon’s ability to convey nuances through silence and movement would make for an intriguing portrayal of the iconic character.
In an interview from 1987, ROBERT ENGLUND, in full Freddy make-up, talks about his iconic character. pic.twitter.com/bYTOVxSi4l
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) May 26, 2023