As a long-time fan of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, it was a not-so-awful dream to be informed I’d be talking to the original ‘Freddy’, Robert Englund for the site. The veteran actor, a thespian who – for better or worse – would be forever associated with the bad guy role in Wes Craven’s “Elm Street” (1984) and its sequels, Englund is one of the many participants in the sensational doco, “Never Sleep Again : The Elm Street Legacy” – his stories, not surprisingly, are the best.
Clint, I love your website! I love Moviehole!
Freddy reads Moviehole?
Yep! and I just like saying Movie.Hole. Another one I like, the man cave….”I’m going to go by Moviehole, then my man cave”.
When I came up with the name originally, all those years ago, folks were a little unsure what type of site it was.
It’s great though, I love it, yeah.
Now we float in the same circles, I guess you’d say – I’ve been friends with Patrick Lussier, who has worked on some of the “Elm Street” flicks – but never had the pleasure of meeting you personally..
Oh, I know Pat, yeah.. It’s funny, I did a strange film years ago in Spain, actually. The only culture in the world that picked up on it were the Australians. A film called “Killer Tongue”, which is, I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ first film and the wonderful sexy Melinda Clarke, is in it as well. And Doug Bradley, “Pinhead”. It’s a real kind of over the top horror spoof, early horror comedy experiments. And I remember it was Patrick telling me that it did well in Australia. [chuckle]
There you go! How long has it been since you’ve put on the Freddy makeup now?
Well the last time would have probably been spring of 2003, so that’s like nine years ago.
Almost nine years ago, yeah. That’s the last time I wore it. I could’ve probably done another Freddy or two, but I think that’s when Platinum Dunes acquired the rights along with Warner Brothers from Newline Cinema. That their idea was into in the future to reboot the franchise and they would want to start with somebody younger who could play, could be the same Freddy for years. I’m almost – even now, I’m almost too old to go out there and do the stunts and stuff. I can do a couple of takes, but then I wake up the next morning and feel like I’ve been playing football. I can barely get out of bed, so I’m having a lot more fun now doing these “suit and tie” roles.
Let me just say, I just finished an episode of Criminal Minds last week, playing a good detective for a change. And it was kind of fun just to pitch some plot, and walk around with a tie loose around my neck, and a nice sport coat for a change.
Only so many times one can wear a dusty Christmas jumper, hey!?
Yeah, nice not to having to be the bad guy.
Your days of Freddy are over, which is sad because I do remember there was a. – apparently it’s pretty terrific too – a prequel script, chronicling the origins of Fred Krueger that nearly happened…
Well the prequel story, some of that showed up in the Tobe Hooper pilot for the TV series. And some of it showed up, actually, in Freddy vs. Jason” and a little bit in “Freddy’s Dead : Number 6” and actually in the remake too starring Jackie Earle Haley. But yes, there was a prequel idea for a movie too.
I’ve heard there was a great kind of “Portrait of a Serial Killer” kind of docudrama script around, where you see Freddy and his first kills and getting hot and the courtroom scenes and really horrible, terrible lawyers getting him off; great corrupt lawyers getting him off and then the vigilante parents. Finally in climax, burning him alive, and maybe you see him manifest, and show up on Elm Street at the very end, where his sort of revenge, reign of terror begins. But I think some of that might be discussed in “Never Sleep Again.”
Tell us about “Never Sleep Again”?
Sometimes you do projects out of love… for friends. So I went over and sat for Heather Langenkamp and Tommy Hudson and a group of researchers for “Never Sleep Again”. It’s a great documentary and I had no idea that it was going to be as thorough and as definitive as it was. I remember the first time my wife and I watched it – who knew that Peter Jackson had written one of the stories!?
Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
I love seeing all the home movies and all of the interviews with the early effects people and the cameramen. Some of our… Most of our cameramen now are shooting all of the top shows on television whether it’s 24, or whether it’s “The Sopranos” or whether it’s CSI, or any of the big hit shows on American television. Those are all the old cameramen from the late ’80s and the early ’90s, from the Nightmare films that we used and they’re all the number. They all sort of changed the look of American television. In the mid-late ’90s with all of the new sort of procedurals, like CSI and stuff, all those guys.
Do you have a favourite of the series?
I think my favourite is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Yeah. Mine too.
I think it’s the first deconstructed horror movie. It still holds up real well.
It does. Its exquisitely ingenious and such a deep flick..
And you can watch it more than once. There’s a lot of hidden sort of gags and visual puns, especially in the first couple of reels. Going from the earthquake to Heather visiting the set… There are some little tricks that are going on there. If you watch Heather’s wardrobe very quickly, I mean very closely, you’ll see real a blend of reality and illusion – indicating when the nightmare begins.
But I love the idea of the reality of the earthquake and living in Los Angeles and the mixing of Hollywood and all of the, sort of, playing ourselves. Greedy, a kind of greedy avarice version of ourselves, and then we’ve sort of been infected by the true evil of this specter, Freddy Krueger, who may or may not have been based in reality and his evil now really wants to sort of free itself from this sort of Hollywood version of it. And I kind of like that as a kind of imaginative Wes Craven, Sam Raimi… almost David Cronenberg kind of take on it. And that was before the “Scream” movies so it’s really one of the very first smart, dark Valentines to the fans.
In later years I’ve done others like “Behind the Mask”, which is a great little film that I made a couple of years ago.
That is great, yeah.
And we’re working on a sequel script now, but I’m really proud of that one. I really love it when people can kind of play with the tropes of the horror movie and then also still come up with a horror movie and scare the audience at the same time, and sort of like, love the fans. Let them eat cake and then kill them.
Well on that topic, I mean…
Clint, I’m just loving being in the moviehole! [laughter]
Yeah, in the movie.hole [Laughs]. Were you ever asked to be a part of the “Scream” series at all?
No, you know, I think that Wes really required some fresh faces for that. We don’t think of Courtney Cox or Drew Barrymore being fresh now, but of course, they were back then, so was David Arquette. And I think he just wanted to do that. And I’m a big fan of those movies. I thought, I think I thought the second one spent a little much, too much time in the daylight for me, I think that that worked against it. But I do think those are strong films and smart films. Wes sort of changed the course of horror twice, not only with the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films but then again with the “Scream” films. People forget his contribution to a kind of, helping the audience along on its own sophistication and kind of complimenting the audience on their understanding of our manipulation and then also turning that back on the audience as an actual trope itself, whether it’s the monster upstairs or in the basement or with the babysitter alone or whatever it is, and then kind of admitting to it and then kind of flipping it on the fans.
And finally, Robert… er, Freddy… has a message for Moviehole readers!
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO “FREDDY’S” MESSAGE
“Never Sleep Again : The Elm Street Legacy” is available May 23 on DVD