Kyle Gallner


As part of our continuing coverage of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010), Adam Frazier talks to star Kyle Gallner.

What’s it like to see a giant version of your head with a zipper on it?
KG: It’s kind of hilarious. Like, when are you ever gonna see it? You’re never gonna see a giant version of your own head except on a movie set, so…

Q: Especially one with Freddy Krueger popping out of it.
KG: Right. With a zipper on it.

Q: Actually, I think Robert Englund did something like that in “V,” where he pulled his face off…
KG: Yeah, I think Sam did it in a music video too. I think someone unzipped themselves in one of Sam’s videos. I think that’s where he got the idea.

Q: How’s your voice doing after all the screams?
KG: It’s okay. I think a couple more, I would have been fried.

Q: It was impressive.
KG: I think it helps because it echoes through the whole building, but thank you.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your character, Quentin?
KG: Quentin is…he’s kind of like that guy that is, he’s not like the super-popular kid, but everybody kind of knows him a little bit. He’s the kid that walks down the hallway and it’s like, ‘Oh, hey, what’s going on.’ He’s that kind of guy. But Quentin’s an interesting kid. You know, we don’t touch on the fact that Quentin has a mom — he doesn’t really have a mom in the movie, so he’s got like the mom issues on top of the dreams and his dad. I don’t think he gets along very well with his dad. I think he has a little bit of a high stress home life, so he’s kind of got a little bit of anger issues, I feel. I mean, this is the way I’m playing him, with slight anger issues and maybe some daddy issues, and my mom’s not there. I’m also kind of like, you know, I pop Adderall — I’m kind of this weird, offbeat kid. He’s a good kid though. At the end of the day he’s a good kid. It’s just he’s a little high strung and I think what he’s going through, he doesn’t really know how to handle very well, so he kind of turns to drugs a little bit, and he gets very fidgety and agitated by the end of the movie.

Q: So are some of his personal issues specifically incorporated into his dreams? Does Freddy taunt him with things that bother him?
KG: Not really, not so much. I think that’s kind of a separate side. I don’t think Freddy really cares about my issues with my mom and whatever. But … it’s a weird thing. My dreams are almost, they’re not so much like terrifying nightmares — like, I do have some scenes in the boiler room and stuff — but it’s almost like a weird thing where Freddy almost uses me as a bit of a vessel, I guess, to kind of show me what really happened to him, as opposed to just torturing me in my dreams. Like, in my first dream, he doesn’t even come after me. He’s showing me what really happened to him. Later on, he definitely gives me some business in the boiler room, but no, he doesn’t incorporate my own personal issues with his vendetta.

Q: Did you do voice work for podcast stuff?
KG: The podcast was scrapped. That was an original script thing that didn’t end up working out.

Q: What’s Quentin’s relationship with Nancy?
KG: Nancy’s kind of the girl that I think Quentin’s watched from afar for a little while. He’s liked her for a long time and he tries to reach out to Nancy, but Nancy’s kind of so shut down that she doesn’t really let anybody in. So our relationship basically is forced to build through the movie. We’re thrown into a very chaotic, life-and-death situation and she’s kind of the only person I have, so you either trust each other and try to figure this out together, or you take your own separate ways and hope for the best. But we bond and our relationship really does grow throughout the whole movie.

Q: Was it you that Rooney said had not seen the original film?
KG: I have not seen it all the way through, no. I’ve never seen it beginning to end. I’ve seen bits.

Q: Was that on purpose when you signed up?
KG: Well, I didn’t plan on doing ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ for, like, 22 years (laughs).

Q: No, I mean…
KG: No, I know, I’m kidding. Yeah, I made sure that once I had booked it, I didn’t want to see it. You know, Quentin is different from Johnny’s character. It’s the same kind of story but different people, and I didn’t want to be influenced in any way. I kind of wanted to make Quentin my own. So I will watch it when this is over, but until then I’m gonna kind of stay away from it.

Q: How much of an awareness have you had, though, of Freddy Krueger, because he is a pop culture…
KG: Oh, you can ask almost anybody and they know who Freddy Krueger is.

Q: And what is your own experience with that? What did you think of him before you signed on to do this?
KG: I always thought Freddy’s story was more interesting than Jason’s or…there’s a psychological side to it. There’s a deeper thing going on with Fred Krueger than there is with a lot of the other killers in horror movies. So that was an interesting thing. And the dream sequences and the whole thing of, like, you have to stay up or you die. You know, there’s a survival thing here where, if you’re asleep, that’s when you’re facing your real problems. But it’s almost scarier when you’re awake, because it’s ‘I can’t fall asleep right now, if I fall asleep I’m gonna die, but I don’t know what the hell to do. Like, I don’t know how to fix this, I don’t know how to stop this.’ So it’s almost just as scary when you’re awake as when you’re sleeping. That was definitely an interesting thing. Like, I knew enough about the story and I knew enough about the character coming into it to — you know, I didn’t come into this blind (laughs). I knew who he was. So, I really like Freddy, I think probably more than a lot of the other ones.

Q: Have you been sleep-depriving yourself like Rooney has?
KG: Yes. When it gets to days that are really intense days, especially days like this where it’s kind of on night six, one of the last days, where you have average four hours of sleep, you kind of just get in character (laughs).

Q: Does Quentin have a history similar to Nancy’s with Freddy?
KG: I think he does, I think the thing is with Quentin — Nancy is obviously, like, Freddy’s girl, you know what I mean? It’s Nancy and Freddy, so she, I think, is tortured by him more than I am, for sure. It’s a thing where I don’t think I remember as much as Nancy does, I don’t think I’m as affected as Nancy is. I think I get more and more affected and start to remember as the story goes on, as does she, but she knows there is something wrong. She’s been definitely affected differently than I have.

Q: Why does he choose you as the vessel to show his past?
KG: I don’t know. I mean, my dad has a hand in his death, I think that’s probably the main reason. It’s almost like — he’s kind of using me as a vessel, but it’s almost like for convenience, because he’s trying to kind of shake things up and show me what my dad did. He just mindfucks you pretty much through the whole movie, he really does. He just messes with you from beginning to end.

Q: You’ve done a couple of horror movies now. Do you personally like them?
KG: I do. I think they’re really — horror movies are really fun. You get to do things in a horror movie that you don’t …you know, it’s very genre-specific. But I think with horror movies you can get a touch of action, you get a touch of drama, and you get the horror aspect of it, as opposed to doing just a straight drama or straight action film. But I think this is kind of gonna be the last one for a while (laughs). You can’t really get typecast, and this is kind of the one to go out, to go out on, I think. You go out with a bang. You fight Freddy Krueger and then you see what happens next. But I’m very material-driven, like if the material’s good, I’d like to do it. So if a horror movie comes around again that’s really, really good, you never say never.

Q: Can you talk about working with Sam, Brad and Andrew?
KG: It’s been cool. Brad and Andrew, obviously they’re veterans of kind of these horror remakes, so they know what they’re doing with them. They have a very specific way of working and they take their time to, you know, keep the story but also kind of make it their own., I guess. And Sam is really good. Sam is very, very visual. Sam’s gonna make this movie look amazing. I mean, we saw like five minutes of it cut together and the visuals of it are really pretty unbelievable. He’s gonna give it a very specific feel and a very specific vibe, and it’s been fun. Sam’s gonna make it look really, really good. And he’s really good about giving us all the freedom we need, almost, like to create our characters and go where we need to go, so that’s been nice. But I mean, if everything gets out of control, you know, if the performance really isn’t working, he’ll pull you back in. He’ll kind of direct you in the right direction.

Q: Can you talk a little about “Jennifer’s Body,” your role in the movie and the rest of the film?
KG: Yeah, the film’s fun. Obviously it’s a cluster of genres, you know. It’s gonna do its thing. I haven’t seen any of it, so I don’t really know what to expect from it. But I play almost like this really small-town Goth kid, who’s really bizarre and weird. I have like jet-black hair and lip rings. It was fun. I mean, he’s very dramatic, he’s got a big flair for the dramatic and kind of a curiosity about death and all things morbid. It was a fun character, but as far as everything else goes, I really don’t — I was only up there for a couple of days, I don’t really know how the shoot went. I only know what happened on my days.

Q: What about working with Karyn, because she’s a pretty hot director…
KG: She was good. Karyn was really, really cool. Karen was probably one of my favorite directors I’ve gotten to work with. She took a big budget movie with a lot of crazy things going on and she knew exactly how to handle it. I mean, she was really good. I’d imagine that if you have a big movie like that, things can get out of hand pretty quickly, and she really knew what she was doing.