Robert Englund: ‘My own reflection gives me nightmares’ | Movies

Did filming A Nightmare on Elm Street give you nightmares? Mr. Blankmange

On the first part, I didn’t have my movie star trailer; I had a small honeycomb about the size of a urinal, with a Formica table, a plastic chair, and a mirror with light bulbs around it – the classic backstage makeup room. The lights were on. I had them lowered when I slept around 4 in the morning, with my head resting on a tightly rolled towel so that I wouldn’t smear my makeup. I was waiting to be called on a set and heard this knock on the door. As I sat down, I saw this disfigured face looking at me in the mirror. The shock made me jump out of my skin. I raised my hand and realized, “Oh my God, it’s my own reflection!” But it was such a surprising moment that it still lives in various nightmares.

In behind the scenes photos of Nightmare on Elm Street, seems to be a great connection between you and the young cast. Did that make it hard to kill most of them on screen? Ker555

By making films, you are certainly developing a relationship of actors. We would all get up at daybreak, eyes swollen, full of caffeine, afraid of the day’s work. I remember teasing Heather Langenkamp [Nancy Thompson in Nightmare 1 and 3], who was a Russian major at Stanford University. I would tell dirty jokes that I thought repulsed her, but correlated with Freddy’s disgust and mischief, and helped break the ice. I know Mark Patton [Jesse Walsh in Nightmare 2] agreed that we should play on Freddy’s sexual insinuation around his mouth with my blade.

Back in the days of practical effects, so much was left to the imagination. You’d step over puppets and animatronic crews crawling around dressed as Shinobi. So that backstage mockery really helps when they say, “Action,” so you can step into action from reality.

Do you have Freddy’s favorite iteration, from the dark origins of the first two to the wise sequels and the return to a darker Freddy in New Nightmare? ninkwink

Fans loved the dark, cruel clownish sense of humor that became apparent when people started quoting Freddy’s lines, such as, “I’m your boyfriend now.” So we took advantage of that as the franchise progressed. But when we got to part seven [Wes Craven’s New Nightmare]we made him very dark again: what if Freddy, the manifestation of evil, was really out there?

But Freddy was always wise. In the original Nightmare, Freddy pokes his tongue out of a phone, wipes out a girl and wears her face like a mask as a cheap emotion. He cuts off his fingers and cracks wisely as the green pus and blood gush out. I know Wes thought we took it too far, but we responded to the fans who loved this innocent, politically incorrect wise ass, exercising his nightmarish revenge regime.

Watch the trailer for Englund’s latest film, Choose or Die.

Do you dress like Freddy on Halloween and scare kids? TopTramp

No. I leave Halloween to the amateur dressed people and I leave the nightgown to the amateur drinkers. But while filming, we certainly used to have fun. Making the first film, I got sick of eating dinner, so Nick Corri, Johnny Depp and I went across Sunset Boulevard and sat at the back booth of this dark Thai restaurant. I took off my hat, we ordered, and when the waiter opened the kitchen doors, I was illuminated by a bright fluorescent light. The waiter looked at me, dropped his tray, went back into the kitchen and we never saw him again.

I was sometimes worried that I was no longer afraid, so sometimes I hid behind the landscape and looked out of the darkness at an unsuspecting crew member on his way to the bathroom. I think some 6ft 2in grips have soiled their underwear, so I knew I still had it.

Have you really auditioned for the parts of Luke and Han Solo in Cosmic Wars? How far have you been? TopTramp

No. I really wanted to be inside Apocalypse Now. I wanted to read for Chef – played by the great Frederic Forrest – but that part was taken. They heard I was a surfer, so I read for the surfer, but I think they thought I was too old. As I was leaving, one of the producers told me they were throwing across the hall for this space film by George Lucas. George Lucas was my hero, so I thought, “Damn, I’m going.” At the time, they wanted Han Solo to be played older, like a cool uncle who lets you smoke marijuana at Christmas. They looked at me for five minutes, took some Polaroids; I didn’t read. That’s all I remember.

But as I was leaving, I caught the audition sides [script excerpt] for that much younger character named Luke Skywalker. I went back to my apartment in the Hollywood Hills and my friend Mark Hamill’s cowboy boots were on my front porch. He worked down the hill on the CBS studios as a lucrative television actor. Mark watched the show by Bob Newhart or Mary Tyler Moore. We would watch together in the afternoon and then call our agents at 5pm to see how our auditions went. I remember saying, “Guess what? George Lucas is making this space movie. “We both loved American Graffiti, so Mark called his agent and put her under pressure to audition him. It’s a bit like Tarantino. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I lived at that time with Jan Fischer, who went on to The Lost Boys; our best friend became Luke Skywalker; and I became Freddy Krueger. At the time, we were just three young people living in the Hollywood Hills with big dreams.

Robert Englund
Here’s Englund … Robert behind the mask. Photo: DPA Picture Alliance / Alay

Did you really sing backing vocals on Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight with Gary Barlow and Rick Astley for The Lion King? Princeton

I think that’s an internet rumor. I did a million different voiceovers, but I had nothing to do with The Lion King. Besides, I can’t sing.

What can you tell us about your role in the fourth series of Stranger Things? TopTramp

This season is a tribute to 80s horror. I think it’s their scariest season. I come around the fourth episode. [The series debuted on 27 May.] When Covid hit, I made some personal appearances and some Stranger Things fans asked me such specific questions that I just assumed other actors had already talked about it. So I had my hands slapped on the cheek for that.

Are you actually a friendly space reptoid in human skin, as the 80’s TV series V suggests? Hazarda_Dan

No. I’m not a reptile. Snakes are one of the things that give me nightmares. Back in the early ’80s, they still had an old-fashioned makeup lab on the Warner Bros. site, with all these men in white medical jackets making gloriously designed prostheses. Once, as I was playing a reptile that could suffer from extreme cold, I managed to save an earthling and they had to do some sort of freezing bubble effect. They literally put grapes halfway on my face with wax, so I looked like it was blistered on one side.

Later in the series, I discover that my fellow resistance fighters will experiment on me to see what is toxic to aliens, like an alien allergy test. I had my whole back fitted with reptile skin, up into my harlot and behind my ears, with fake skin on top. Then they did this weird surgery where they removed my fake humanoid back and saw that it was made of shiny, scaly reptile skin.

Zsa Zsa Gabor
With Zsa Zsa Gabor in Nightmare 3. Photo: Cinetext Collection / Sportsphoto / Allstar

What are your memories of appearing on a 2012 Halloween Special of Come Eat with Me? Unknown here

I remember ordering fresh tuna fillet to add my secret ingredients – shallots, sweet crows, finely chopped red pepper, hard-boiled egg, some delicious mayonnaise and some honey mustard. I whip everything up, put it on a roasted dough with a little butter, then melt it on cheese; it’s an old bachelorette party called tuna fusion. But it only works if you use really high quality tuna. The crew brought this terrible canned tuna. I ended up serving my poor fellow glorious cat food.

The problem with doing British reality shows is that sometimes I know exactly who the people are – I know all the gossip and scandals – but sometimes I don’t know. Put on Me I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! with either IQ, or the Tipping Point host [Ben Shephard]. I do anything to come to London because I’m an Anglophile. Often, I would be out and about in London, drinking a few cocktails and going back to my room. When jetlag starts up, I find Tipping Point and it’s great comfort food for me, as well as QI reruns with Alan Davies and Stephen Fry, so wonderfully joking.

Robert Englund stars in Choose or Die on Netflix

This article was amended on 2 June 2022 to correct Englund’s statement that Frederic Forrest had died.

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