Graveyard Shift
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From Good Aliens To Dream Demons, Robert Englund Is More Than Your Worst Nightmare

Updated June 23, 2021 35.4k views13 items
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Robert Englund burst into the horror genre as the grotesque yet intriguing villain Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven's 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Freddy Krueger actor had never appeared in a horror movie before, but he quickly cemented his place as one of the genre's most prolific and beloved stars, starring in nine Elm Street endeavors. Englund has never tried to shed his relationship with Krueger, and loves meeting with fans at comic and horror conventions across the globe.

What's surprising about Englund's shift to the horror genre is that he's a classically trained actor who studied with Lee Strasberg and took drama courses at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The young Robert Englund was a star of live theater, with fans camping outside his apartment for a quick chance to meet him more than a decade before his Elm Street success. 

  • Photo: Star Wars: A New Hope / 20th Century Fox

    Englund Was The First Person To Tell Mark Hamill About 'Star Wars'

    The story of Robert Englund's relationship with Star Wars has morphed over the years in a sort of game of Hollywood telephone, but both Englund and Mark Hamill have set the record straight on who told who about the film. In a 2019 interview, Englund explained that he told Hamill about Star Wars after being briefly considered for the role of Han Solo.

    In a 2018 interview, Hamill confirmed this fact, while also saying that when he called his agent, she had already booked him an audition for the part of Luke Skywalker. During the interview, Hamill quipped, "In Hollywood, you don't tell your friends about a role until you've been rejected yourself."

    Although Englund wasn't cast in the film, he remained close friends with Hamill and told interviewers, "Mark shared all the great gossip of the making of Star Wars." Hamill would later help Englund with green screen work based off of his extensive experience with the technology.

  • Photo: Buster and Billie / Black Creek Billie

    His Very First Hollywood Audition Got Him A Starring Role In ‘Buster and Billie’

    Robert Englund got a starring role in a feature film the first time he ever auditioned in Hollywood with 1974's Buster and Billie. Englund was excited to work with director Daniel Petrie, who was well known for the 1961 film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. In an interview, Englund remembered, "I was able to beat out half the actors in LA to get the role."

    Englund co-starred alongside Jan-Michael Vincent and Joan Goodfellow, falling into the typecast role of a redneck, which he would later shed. While the film received mix reviews at the time of its release, it did well at the box office and was a major achievement for Englund, who had no prior onscreen experience.

  • Englund Tossed Leaves Around The Set Of ‘Halloween’ (1978)

    While most people believe that Robert Englund began his horror film career in A Nightmare on Elm Street, he somewhat accidentally participated in another genre classic, but behind the scenes. In 1978, a friend of Englund's asked if he could help him take some bags of leaves to Pasadena for a movie set.

    Englund told a reporter, "We were working on the set of the original Halloween, throwing dead leaves around." The man who would make Freddy Krueger immortal just six years later is responsible for much of the fall atmosphere you see in John Carpenter's Halloween.

  • Photo: V / NBC

    He Accompanied His Cousin To A Drama Workshop When He Was 12 And Ended Up Starring In Three Major Productions

    Robert Englund describes his childhood growing up in 1950s Los Angeles as a happy, but ordinary life. Then everything changed for Englund when he became involved in drama. 

    Englund says he immediately got the acting bug, and was cast in leading roles. "It just clicked," Englund recalled in an interview. He also recalled comedian Steve Allen coming backstage to tell Englund what a good job he had done in the performances. He was well liked by his peers, even though he often beat out older kids for leading parts.