While Robert Englund is a multi-talented actor, his most notable role is as dream demon, Freddy Krueger. Englund made eight movies as Freddy, all of them hilarious, gory fun. On the eve of an upcoming documentary “Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story,” Englund has shared some feelings on his career. The documentary will take a look at how it all started for Englund and what the future holds. All of it told from a very humble star of horror.
Despite his fame, Englund has never seen himself as anything but a character actor. “I know who icons are. I’m not an icon,” he says. “Maybe Freddy Krueger is, but I’m not. I’m just a character actor, a utility actor who’s been very lucky.” To the horror community, Englund is so much more than that. But he considers his career as something helped along with right-place-right-time, and a lot of luck. Prior to his career as Freddy, Englund was adjacent to many blockbusters of the 70s. From auditioning for Han Solo — and managing to give roommate Mark Hamill his big break in the process –, to making Pasadena, CA look like it was autumn for Wes Craven‘s “Halloween” by gathering dry leaves.
It was while taking a break from shooting “V,” the iconic 1983 miniseries which kickstarted Englund’s fame, that he auditioned for the role of Freddy Krueger. The rest, as they say, was history. Englund was Freddy across 8 films, and upwards of 50 times in other projects. Attempts to revive the franchise for modern audiences didn’t go well. “Elm Street” (2010) took Freddy to a darker place, darker than what fans wanted.
Englund agrees it was the wrong move, while lauding Jackie Earle Haley for his performance.
Too Dark For Freddy’s Humor
“Jackie’s just so good, a wonderful actor, so I don’t think it was that. I’ve always thought that Freddy is described as a child killer,” Englund said. “So when they made Freddy a child molester [in the remake], that’s not what Freddy is, I don’t think. By taking it to such a dark, dark place, there’s no room for the personality of Freddy to be exploited.”
Englund is right on the mark, we think. Part of the fun of Freddy is that he wasn’t like the slasher’s of the past. Freddy took immense joy in killing and terrifying his victims, often wisecracking and making puns. While some considered it campy, Freddy straddled the line well between being terrifying and funny. “Elm Street” left little room for the fun.
So what’s in Englund’s future? He’s no longer young enough for the physical demands of the role. Perhaps writing a “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie? Englund already has ideas of how to take Freddy into the modern world and face present technologies. “You’d have to deal with technology and culture. For instance, if one of the girls was an influencer, it would be interesting for Freddy to somehow haunt her subconscious and manifest himself, perhaps exploit everybody that followed her.” That’s already a fantastic idea. Imagine Freddy Krueger realizing how far his reach can get with the internet. How many victims he could grab with a world entirely connected. Please, Robert, write us this movie!
As for who could take up the mantle of the dirty fedora and green and red sweater? Kevin Bacon. “I know he respects the genre, and he’s such a fine physical actor. I think that in the silences and in the way Kevin moves — it would be interesting.”
“Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story” will be available on Screambox and digital on June 6th, 2023.