Robert Englund has had a long and illustrious career, but he’s best known for his roles in V as Willy, one of the Visitors who was sympathetic to the human resistance fighters, but more so as the feared Freddy Kruger in the phenomenal Nightmare on Elm Street series as the stalker of sleeping teenagers, killing them in their dreams. Robert agreed to answer a few questions for the Daily Dragon at his Walk of Fame table.
Daily Dragon (DD): When you were in V, did you think that people would still be talking about it and still be fans of the show and watching it all these years later?
Robert Englund (RE): Well, you know V was my first taste of fame and getting like 100 letters a week, and I really kind of learned about the science fiction fans back then and how smart and literate they were. So it really doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been getting asked about V about once a week since 1982. I understand there’s possibly a remake with a younger cast or possibly, a V: The Next Generation with us original actors. I’m really not that surprised. […] It was a great marketing campaign with billboards across the country and the spray painted “V”s with the red paint running down. But it was also the TV movie that raised the bar for the rest of history for television special effects because we brought John Dykstra to television. Before us, it was just some guy in green makeup chasing William Shatner around, y’know? But we had CGI, and many of the effects in the original V still hold up on a television screen.
DD: I did see on IMDB that they are doing V: The Second Generation.
RE: I think what they’re doing is a remake of the original V with a younger cast. V: The Next Generation is a book by Kenneth Johnson based on a script that he wanted to do which was all about the original cast 30 years later in a kind of post-apocalyptic setting. The lizard aliens are still in control. They mastered the world, and there still are rebel groups fighting them.
DD: Switching gears a bit, what do you think of the Nightmare on Elm Street phenomenon?
RE: Well, again, maybe one of the greatest gift it’s given me–the one-two punch of success I had with V and Nightmare on Elm Street at the same time and then the other Nightmare on Elm Street movies and other horror movies that I’ve done–has been that science fiction, fantasy, and horror speak an international language. So I’ve been working on and off now in Europe since the late ‘80s, and that’s a great, great gift that I’ve gotten from the success I’ve had in science fiction and horror. And because I do self-publicity and stuff for Nightmare on Elm Street over the years and its eight movies and other movies as well, I’ve done like nine movies now in Europe. And now, next month, I get to go off and do two [English language] films in Italy back-to-back. So it’s been a great bonus to my career. I’m an international actor now.
DD: What was it like, after a break from playing Freddy in back-to-back Nightmare movies, to come back to the role in Freddy Versus Jason?
RE: Well, this is just on a reality level; it was hard for me because I had to do a lot of fight scenes and a lot of stunts. Normally, I’m just lurking around in a teenage girl’s bedroom, looking through her underwear drawer, not wrestling around with a six-foot seven Canadian stuntman for six weeks up in Canada when the weather changes from fall to winter. So it was a rough shoot. I also did all of my own water stunts in that, and when they put my makeup on for the water stunts, it was rough on my face.
DD: What do you think about Michael Bay remaking Nightmare?
RE: I’m really curious, and I’m actually gonna say I’m all for it, and I’ll tell you why. Michael Bay’s putting his name on the project, so he must love the original. He must love the source material, and he wants to do a good job. I bet he’s got great ideas for using the new technologies to exploit the nightmares and the dream landscapes. […] I think you have to remember that rock and roll and horror and science fiction isn’t sacred anymore. We’re not remaking a Eugene O’Neill or rewriting a Hemmingway. We’re remaking a great pop culture phenomenon, and we’re reintroducing it to a new generation. You know I wish that young people today would watch some of the old black and white movies or listen to some original rock and roll, but a lot of them don’t. So we have to refresh it and spice it up a bit, and I think that’s a good thing. You never know. We all probably thought Jack Nicholson was the best Joker until we saw Heath Ledger.
DD: And you were in a remake yourself, with Phantom of the Opera.
RE: Well, with Phantom of the Opera, we did it as homage to the great Hammer films of the 50s and 60s. We wanted to make it very romantic, but we also wanted to make it very scary, so we transposed it from the Paris Opera to the Jack the Ripper era of London, and I think that was wise. It’s got a great cult following.