James Brown may have been the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, but for the title of Hardest Working Man in Horror I respectfully nominate Robert Englund. The actor behind fright icon Freddy Krueger just wrapped up his work as the star of FEARnet’s upcoming original online series Fear Clinic. But Englund’s got a bunch of other new projects in various stages of development in all manner of media, which he told us about when we spoke with him this Saturday, on his last day of shooting on the Fear Clinic set in L.A. Check out everything that Englund’s got brewing after the jump.
First, Englund plans to conquer the literary world with his long-awaited autobiography. “I have a book called Hollywood Monster coming out October 13th,” he said, “I’m real proud of that. I’ve been working on that for the last six months. I just did my commercial book-jacket cover with my photo in New York at Simon & Schuster. That was a lot of fun – I was there in the waiting room with my wife under a portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Annie Proulx, who wrote Brokeback Mountain, so that was a thrill. And it was hard. It’s rough. I was on the computer four to five hours a day, doing research and trying to get the language and the voice right. Because I want it to be an affectionate memoir. I mean, Hollywood’s been good to me. There’s a fair amount of gossip and name-dropping, but the name-dropping is mostly for chronology, and it shows you the span of my career for the last quarter of the 20th century, and now post-millennial. So there’s that. That’s October 13th. I’m gonna be at Comic-Con for that, and for the new Spider-Man [animated series], and for my Batman work. I’ll be on that panel, and hyping [Fear Clinic] and some other stuff.”
Englund told us he has plenty of film work lined up, both as actor and director.
“I’m in business with these great guys. They were a Roman producing outfit. They just completed a movie in Serbia called Zone of the Dead, which is supposed to be a very good zombie movie. I think it just premiered at some festivals in Europe. My last film in English that I did in Italy, which is sort of my homage to Vincent Price and Klaus Kinski, is Night of the Sinner (which I wanted to call The Bald Madonna, because there’s a whole subplot [about] a statue in my villa. I play an Italian prince.) It’s old school. Saturated color – Argento, Corman retro. It’s fun. That just premiered, literally, on June 28 or 29th in Rome. It just had its world premiere in Rome. So that’ll be out on DVD here shortly. Then I go off to Romania in the first week of September, called Web Cam. Again for my producing partners there that I like. This is Antoni Sole from Barcelona and Loris Curci from Rome. This is a great little Prom Night in a glass skyscraper that kids are lured into, like flies to flypaper. In it is a guy whose entire jumpsuit, his entire body, is cameras. All kinds of cameras, and he’s broadcasting directly to the net. It’s Ten Little Indians, and people bet on who will survive, or who will be last, and then they bid to see who gets to see the final kill. There’s all these people – I think Bo Derek is in it, and Lorrain Bracco from the Sopranos; and Michael Madsen is in it. Adam Rodriguez from CSI: Miami is in it, and myself. Some of them are the victims, but most of the people I’ve mentioned are playing the people who are bidding. So I go off to do that in Romania, and then I come back from that and I gotta do my book tour. So I’ll be busy with that off and on, leading into Halloween and probably right after Halloween. Then probably do, hopefully, more [Fear Clinic] in November. That’s sort of the target when we want to see if we can do some more of these. Knocking off another five at least would be fun, just lock ourselves in here for a fat week. That’ll give [screenwriter] Aaron [Drane] some time to let some of the juices settle and marinate and think about what the next five phobias should be. So I’m hoping to do that in November. Then I gotta go to London in December for the book tour and a personal appearance. That’s the next six months.”
The feature film project that most excites Englund, however, is one in which he hopes to co-star alongside fellow monster legend Doug Bradley.
“There’s another script I’ve been sent by Pinhead, by [actor] Doug Bradley and Angela Bettis, one of my favorite actresses, from May. She is connected to this, and Doug Bradley is connected to this, and it’s just the most original thing that I’ve read in years, called Tamora Gamble. I need to meet with this director; I think he’s headquartered in the Midwest. But it’s real apocalyptic in a kind of novel, almost all-American, Edward Hopper, slightly David Lynch way. Just a remarkable, remarkable script. I would play a kind of senator who’s perhaps sold his soul to the devil, a little Daniel Websterish. I mean I couldn’t put it down. So I’m gonna be doing that. A lot of this stuff is kind of easy, but I need to be a grown-up about this Tamora Gamble project. Because it is, I’m telling you, you heard it here first – and if you guys talk to Doug… Talk to Doug about it, because he’s got a major role in it. And Angela is the star. It’s just remarkable, a remarkably original piece. You can imagine before we said words like “Lynchian” and we knew what that meant – it’s that kind of strange style. I’m only sort of half imagining it off the page right now. But it’s pretty magical stuff.”
Englund will also get back behind the camera with an intriguing-sounding passion project called The Vijj…
“I’ve got a directing project that’s on hold now because there’s a little bit of litigation in Italy. At one time I had to use Canadian actors, at one time I had to use Canadian and Italian actors. So I’ve been through a lot of scouting and a lot of casting in Rome and even here. Talks with Donald Sutherland and Amanda Plummer, actors I love, and some wonderful actors in Italy, Raoul Volva. I’ve even been thinking about calling in some favors with wonderful actors like Lance Henriksen. But this is a very great original script that I’m sitting on, and that’ll probably be happening in 2010 I think. It’s very original and very new. It’s called The Vijj, or Curse of the Vijj perhaps. It’s very interesting: a fallen angel from purgatory is in a little village somewhere on the east European border of the Soviet Union, behind the Iron Curtain, in a bit of a time warp. He’s sort of patrolling the perimeter of the village and everybody’s sort of trapped there. He has a girl, kind of like Snow White, in suspended animation and cursed, like a witch. A priest comes, a priest who… since childhood they’ve been using his innocence for exorcisms. He’s sort of drawn to this village, and he’s their savior, this priest. He falls in love with the girl. It’s kind of romantic and controversial, in what I consider a rich, gothic sense.”
“I want to make this movie,” he laughed, “because over the years I’ve met so many hot fanboy girlfriends – goth girls, etc. I’ve met so many of them and I know that there’s equivalent girls that like the musical Phantom of the Opera and there’s equivalent girls that are obsessed with the Sondheim Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. And there’s equivalent girls obsessed with the Christina Ricci [type] horror. And an equivalent amount of girls that like Dark Shadows/True Blood/Twilight. I want to make the first date movie that delivers everything for the guys and girls. That’s what I think The Vijj can be – a violent, romantic, gothic tale. I’m hoping to start that in 2010.”
Not content just to make books, movies and online series, Englund also has a macabre audio project in development: “I think right after Comic-Con I’m gonna be helping Doug Bradley out also – we’re putting down on tape some classic horror, like Edgar Allan Poe and stuff. Audio books. So I’ve gotta actually take some time and pick one. I think maybe I’ll do ‘The Premature Burial’ or something like that. That’ll be fun.”
Moving on to the world of television, I asked Englund if he’s interested in guest starring or cameoing in the new version of his classic ‘80s sci-fi series V.
“I’m obviously not in the pilot,” he said, “but maybe they’ll offer me something down the line a little bit, like how Joe Dante likes to use all of the old horror stars in his movies, Dick Miller and everybody. Maybe they’ll find something for me in that, and that would be fun.”
Since most days I have trouble mustering the energy to toast bread, I asked the sixty-two-year-old Englund how he’s able to eat everything he’s piling on his plate.
“You have to understand,” he replied, “I’ve been on this book since December. My ass got fat. My tummy got fat. I found so many lies and untruths on the internet, because they don’t fact check. And I know – I was there – I lived through some of the stuff I was fact-checking, with actors and actresses. I made some mistakes of recollection and I made some mistakes of chronology and I’m sure I blended some stories, taking a little bit of license there. I’m happy with it, but it’s hard. I have such respect for people who confront their computer software every day, and their spell check, and they go off and do their research. But that’s not for me. It’s just too hard for me. I’m really happy with the project, but it took a lot out of me. My wife and I fought. I’m real happy with it, but it was hard to do. I had to find a voice with my co-writer. It’s tricky, and that was done long distance, which is difficult – he was in Chicago. But it’s over now. It’s done, and I’m happy with it.”
“But my God,” he laughed, “I’m just ready to go back and kill teenage girls again. Or direct. I’m getting old and directing in Europe is tricky, because my crew speaks a foreign language predominantly. (Obviously there’s people there that translate for me.) I’m looking forward to that. I’m energized by that. But I want to go out and I really want to sell my book. And I want to sell Fear Clinic. Because I really believe in both of them. I’m happy with both of them. And then go off to Romania and kick the dogs away and have fun with my people over there. Maybe get drunk with Michael Madsen, whom I’ve been a huge fan of forever. That’ll be fun.”