Earlier today we caught up with horror icon Robert Englund, and the man who defined Freddy Krueger for a generation shared with us his thoughts on learning that Oscar-nominated actor Jackie Earle Haley would be taking on the role Englund made famous – that of the notorious "bastard son of a hundred maniacs" – in Platinum Dunes upcoming remake of the Wes Craven classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Find our what Englund told us after the jump.
"I'm real happy with Jackie." said Englund, "I'm a fan. I've been a fan of Jackie since Breaking Away. My Vietnam movie [Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder] was with Dennis Christopher, and Dennis Christopher's the star of Breaking Away. (In fact, I think he won the British Academy Award for that movie.) So I've seen that movie several times and I've talked a lot with Dennis about it, and the making of it. And I just love Jackie's work in that. He really was one of the first people who ever had the opportunity to discuss the American class system in a movie. The townie versus the "other" – the interloper, the rich kid, the preppie – that comes to town. And then of course I know him from Bad News Bears and then more recently, obviously, Little Children, and then Watchmen. And although I'm not a big fan of Watchmen, I am a big fan of Jackie in that film. I just have a problem when there are too many characters. It's just me. Maybe I'm old school. Even with X-Men. I love X-Men – but I'll go to any movie ever called Wolverine, only because I love that character. There were just too many characters for me in Watchmen. But I love Jackie's character. Jackie is not big, and I think that Jackie's size is gonna really work for him as Freddy Krueger. Because I've always in my mindset imagined… One of the metaphors or one of the images I've used for Freddy is a little rabid dog that just bites your ankle and holds on. A little yelping dog. And I think Jackie brings that, with his own physicality, to the role, without ever having to work it a little bit. He doesn't really have to work that. He brings that naturally with who he is, which I think is really part of the way I see it.
"Now there are many actors in this movie that I love – I'm a big fan of Clancy Brown's; I've done voiceovers with Clancy and I've been a big fan of Clancy's since Highlander. I love Connie Britton on Friday Night Lights. I'm a huge fan of hers. If she's playing Marge, she's perfect as that alcoholic mom. I really like that, if she's the damaged mother. I love [Thomas Dekker], the boy from Sarah Connor Chronicles. I think he's a really interesting choice. So in terms of those characters I'm really pleased. I don't know the director [Samuel Bayer]'s work, but my feeling is that Michael Bay – this guy has more money than God – would not put his name on this if he didn't have some real love for the franchise. He wants to reboot it and reimagine it, and I hope he wants to reimagine it and make it different.
"I think of all the recent remakes – whether it was Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th or Halloween – of all of them, the original Nightmare on Elm Street, as wonderful and as frightening and as original as Wes Craven's is, I do know – I was there – I do know we almost ran out of money, and it lends itself to the new technology, more so than any of these other remakes, except perhaps King Kong. So I really am looking forward to how they exploit the dreamscape with CGI and all of the new technologies that they have at their fingertips. That is something I think that is appropriate and that's what I'm looking forward to. But I hope they make it their own. I hope they change it. I'd even like to see Jackie dressed a little differently. Jackie's a wonderful young actor. Let him make it his own. I always used to think of alternates to what I wore in that and I would say, after wearing that sweater for eight movies and a television series, "Maybe he would wear overalls, because he's a janitor." Maybe the hat could be different; maybe it could be a baseball hat or an old frayed baseball hat or something. Maybe the sweater is a vest or maybe it's an old thermal undershirt, those colors or something like that. I mean you've got to keep some of the mythology there. Obviously he's got to be burned and everything. But I sort of hope they avoid my silhouette, and I hope they alter the glove a little bit, rough it up a little bit or make it more Cronenberg or something. I don't know. I just want them to liberate themselves. That's my only hope, as opposed to just making it over again. It sounds like they are. It sounds like they've changed the cast and the names, which is interesting.
"It's kind of like another thing of mine that they're remaking – V is very different. V is very different from the original, and I think that's a good idea: to keep the core mythology, but also freshen it. That's the point of these remakes. I mean I had problems with the casting of King Kong. I'm a big fan of Naomi Watts, and I love the Michael Haneke remake [of Funny Games] with her and Michael Pitt. I think she's great in that kind of stuff. But I thought she was too old for King Kong. I thought Jack Black was too young for King Kong, and I love Jack Black. My favorite actors in that were Thomas Kretschmann as the captain, and our friend who played King Kong, who also was Gollum – Andy Serkis. He was brilliant as the cook. That's how I see. But I have to be honest, by the end of that movie, when they were in New York, when King Kong was sliding on the frozen pond and he was climbing that skyscraper, and when the sound cut out at the end and he was at the top of the Empire State Building and those planes were flying around and you just heard the wind and the distant hum of the engines of the planes, I thought it was sublime filmmaking. That was my Peter Jackson, all the way back. He won me back, even with those misgivings that I've just listed for you. He won me back.
"So it's tricky, you know? The remakes are tricky. But it's something Hollywood's been doing since the 1920s. I mean they've remade A Star is Born six times. I'm in one of them for God's sake! (I insulted Barbara Streisand in the mid-70s.) So I understand that comes with the territory…"