Robert Englund, horror actor


THEN & NOW:‘ONE, TWO, FREDDY’S coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, 10, never sleep again.”

As Halloween approaches, thoughts turn to monsters, ghouls, zombies and other scary creatures. All around the world, folks will be dusting off their Dracula cloaks, skeleton suits and Scream masks in preparation for a night of blood-curdling fun. Debate will rage as to who is the scariest horror-movie character of all time, and one name will be oft-repeated, in hushed, reverent and ever-so-slightly nervous tones: Freddy Krueger.

With his black hat, green-and-red sweater, clawed glove and horribly burnt face, Freddy Krueger was the local bogeyman who invaded kids’ dreams in Wes Craven’s 1984 movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie was a huge box-office hit, and spawned a slew of sequels, plus a 2010 remake. It’s been listed as the fifth highest-grossing horror franchise of all time.

Krueger was played by Robert Englund, a Californian of Swedish descent, the son of an aeronautics engineer. Englund was originally in the frame to play Han Solo in Star Wars – the role went to Harrison Ford – but he did play an alien in the TV mini-series V before landing his dream role as the star of a million teen nightmares.

The role has stuck to Englund like particularly gooey protoplasm – for many, Englund is Freddy Krueger, but the actor – dubbed one of the nicest guys ever to play an evil, psychotic child-killer – is happy to put on the burnt-face make-up and entertain his fans at conventions and horrorthons. He’s particularly in demand around this time of the year – this weekend, he’s in Orlando, Florida, appearing at Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend with other cast members from the Nightmare series. His Freddy fame takes him around the world, and he’s usually accompanied by his third wife, Nancy, who he married in 1988. They have no kids. But Englund has broken out of the Freddy mask to play other roles. He has starred in such B-horror classics as 2001 Maniacs, Black Swarm, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, Inkubus and Strippers vs Werewolves. He also directed his own horror film, 976-Evil. This year, he will be seen in the made-for-TV movie Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, playing a poacher who comes up against giant CGI crocodiles. I’ll stick with Nightmare on Elm Street, thank you very much.