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Caffeinated Clint Greats : Interview Series

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What is Caffeinated Clint’s Greats?
I’ve had plenty of emails from you guys asking such questions as “Who were your favourite actors growing up?”, “Do you have a favourite movie?”, “You’re producing films now, any particular film that inspired you to take that road?” and “Hey man, Got Kristen Stewart’s phone number?”, and it gave my an idea – why not profile some of my favourite films? (It saves me from flaming a pimply, unintelligent publicist or another fresh-from-junior-high exec over some harebrained remake he’s just greenlit for a couple of weeks, after all) and in doing so, why not make contact with some of the people from these films?

Today’s Favourite Film Profiled :

Title : A Nightmare on Elm Street III : Dream Warriors
Year : 1986
Director : Chuck Russell
Starring : Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

The best of the “Elm Street” sequels (if not the series), director Chuck Russell’s “Dream Warriors” brought back to the series actress Heather Langenkamp (‘Nancy’) and Wes Craven, who drafted this film’s plot. This may have been the turning point for Freddy Krueger, the film in which he started to resemble more of a cartoon character than a frightening night stalker, but it’s also the film with the funnest, most imaginative script. Great kills. Great characters. Great Freddy quips. Great effects. Great soundtrack (go Dokken!). In 1986, it got no better than “A Nightmare on Elm Street III : Dream Warriors”.

Q&A with Heather Langenkamp

One of the nicest gals in the business and, for those that know their horror movies, someone that needs no introduction, Heather Langenkamp remains one of the most iconic scream queens of her generation – her turn as Nancy Thompson in Wes Craven’s terrific “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) now considered one of the all-time classic performances of the ’80s. Langenkamp would only play Nancy one more time (in “Elm Street III : Dream Warriors”) but her performance, and the series for which she was known, is held in such high-regard that nobody what the Tulsa-born actress did after, she’d still be known simply as ‘the actress from the Elm Street movie’.

Caffeinated Clint : I take it, for better or worse, that the role of Nancy Thompson changed your career?

Heather Langenkamp : Yeah, for many reasons, getting the part of Nancy Thompson changed my life dramatically. I not only got to work with Wes Craven in one of the greatest horror movies of all time – my opinion, of course! – but through him and his Producer Marianne Maddalena I was also introduced to my husband, David Anderson.

Caffeinated Clint : But it’s fair to say you were became slightly typecast?

Heather Langenkamp : Definitely. Unfortunately, when Elm Street came out, horror was not the popular genre it is now – with the full force of the Hollywood publicity machine behind it. In fact, I could rarely find anyone in Hollywood who had seen the Elm Street movies. My agents included!

Caffeinated Clint : Typical! [Laughs]

Heather Langenkamp : Yeah. I guess it wasn’t a hindrance, it was just that no one of much ‘influence’ had horror on their radar screens. As a consequence, I had a very hard time getting auditions for some roles because casting directors use to regard [horror films] as B movies. That definitely isn’t true anymore.

Caffeinated Clint : Via the “Elm Street” films you’ve gone on to work with a lot of actors – Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette, for instance – who have gone on to become big, big stars. Did you ever envision success for any of them?

Heather Langenkamp : I’ve worked with so many really wonderful actors – even really fine artists who may not be household names like the ones you mentioned. But most all of the actors in the Nightmare on Elm Street series I worked on took their work seriously…very seriously, and like most actors, most were really glad to just have a job!

Caffeinated Clint : Yes, it guess a few films later that people started to recognize Depp, Laurence Fishburne and so on… it didn’t happen overnight for them.

Heather Langenkamp : It takes a lot of really hard work and some good fortune to become a big time star – It is not easy to tell who is going to get to that level and who is not. And believe it or not, it isn’t something I speculate about when I work with someone. The best part of working on the Elm Street movies was that, at the time, they didn’t feature any big stars. I think that’s what worked for the films. The sets were warm and congenial and devoid of some of the star tripping stupidity that goes on in big A-list movies sometimes. We always laughed a lot and enjoyed what we were doing – Wes contributed a lot to creating that kind of atmosphere. So much of an actors life involves the work of other people like agents and managers and producers and studios and publicity agents and casting directors. A serious actor with good judgment and some good luck and a strong desire to carry on in bad times and keep a level head in good ones may hit the A list and stay there…or she may hit it and then fall off. Or may never get there at all. Most actors act because they love it. They are even willing to do it for no money at times. Super stardom is a product of the Entertainment Industry.. the business of making movies and I have only watched it in operation from the outside looking in.

Caffeinated Clint : You played yourself in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” – but just how close to the real Heather Langenkamp was the movie’s Heather Langenkamp?

Heather Langenkamp : Great question! I would hope that I am as fierce and brave as my on screen persona, but I doubt that I am. I certainly don’t look that great every day that’s for sure. My family is so important to me and my husband is a special effects make-up artist, I have a son, I drive a Volvo station wagon, I wear jeans a lot… some of the basic premises were very similar to my real life, but of course, I don’t meet up with supernatural phenomenon or Freddy Krueger very often so I honestly don’t know if I acted the way I would act in real life.

Caffeinated Clint : You mentioned you have kids, do they watch the “Elm Street” films?

Heather Langenkamp : I don’t let them. Once you put an image in your head it is there forever. I firmly believe that people fill their brains with too many horrible images and then wonder why they can’t find peace, happiness, hope. I rarely watch horror and I pick the ones I watch carefully.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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