Freddy Krueger Actor Robert Englund on His 50-Year Career, Why He Won’t Play Freddy Anymore and Who Should Portray the ‘Elm Street’ Villain Next

Robert Englund starred in one of the most revered science fiction series of all time; he’s directed films; voiced video game characters; and acted in scores of movies and shows. But he’s aware that his legacy is playing horror icon Freddy Krueger in eight “Nightmare on Elm Street” films and a TV series. An upcoming documentary — “Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story,” out June 6 — dives into Englund’s unique silver screen journey, of which he is self-effacing.

“I know who icons are,” he says. “I’m not an icon. Maybe Freddy Krueger is, but I’m not. I’m just a character actor, a utility actor who’s been very lucky.”

Perhaps the most surprising chapter of Englund’s story happens early on, when he was frequently adjacent to ‘70s blockbusters. From reading for Han Solo in “Star Wars” and urging his roommate Mark Hamill to audition for Luke Skywalker, to gathering dead leaves to turn Pasadena, Calif. into a Midwest street for “Halloween,” Englund got his big break as Willie in “V,” an alien franchise which aired episodes from 1983-1985.

During a break filming “V,” Englund auditioned for Wes Craven’s horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” as a burned child killer who haunts Springwood, Ohio. A low-budget hit, sequel after sequel was greenlit, and Englund was pleased to see the horror genre get more respect as he continued the role.

“I felt there was a cultural shift that people recognized,” he says. “Horror is the punk rock of cinema in its own way. There was a recognition of pulp as a great ingredient in our cultural world. There’s room for pulp and melodrama, and the door opened wider for horror.”

Englund last portrayed his signature character on film in 2003’s hit “Freddy vs. Jason.” Less than a decade later, Freddy was recast with Jackie Earle Haley playing him in 2010’s remake of the 1984 “Elm Street.” While it was a financial hit, fans decried it as a series low, and another chapter was never made. Despite the horror community’s loyalty to Englund, he’s fond of Haley’s Freddy, and thinks there was one key change from the original which made things go off track.

“Jackie’s just so good, a wonderful actor, so I don’t think it was that,” he says. “I’ve always thought that Freddy is described as a child killer. 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.”

While speaking with Englund, it’s impossible not to wonder if he’s thought about the future of the franchise. Even though he’s never written any of the films, he has an idea about how to bring “Elm Street” into modern times.

“You’d have to deal with technology and culture,” he says. “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.”

Would he be willing to put on the fedora again for the right script? “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.”

Englund’s pick for a modern Freddy? He was wowed by a fan who mentioned Kevin Bacon as a replacement.

“I know he respects the genre, and he’s such a fine physical actor,” he says. “I think that in the silences and in the way Kevin moves — it would be interesting.”


Robert Englund’s Favorite Freddy Krueger Quotes

The villain is known for his one-liners and puns.

*“Welcome to prime time, bitch!” — as Freddy smashes Jennifer’s head into a television in 1987’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.”

*“I should warn you, princess… the first time tends to get a little… messy.” — as Freddy gets “disgusting and gross and dark” with Lori in 2003’s “Freddy vs. Jason.”

*“I’m your boyfriend now.” — as Freddy’s tongue licks Nancy through the phone in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

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