Although Wes Craven began and ended the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Robert Englund has been the connective piece, holding the entire series together with his brilliant portrayal of the villain, Freddy Krueger. He has been the only actor to appear in all seven Nightmares films, and the popularity of the films have made him a star. He says, "I was working pretty regularly before I became Freddy, but you can't imagine what those films did for my career. I went from being a character actor to a star of sorts. I'm certainly grateful."
Robert Englund was born on June 6, 1949 in Glendale, California. He went to UCLA (for three years) and Rodchester, Michigan. Early in his career, he did a lot of theater work (inluding spending three years playing in the Shakespeare Festival) before making his film debut in the 1974 film Slashed Dreams. Some of his other early films include Buster and Billie, A Star is Born, and Eaten Alive. He acheived some fame with his portrayal of Willie, a friendly alien in a T.V. series and a couple T.V. movies called V.
In 1984, Robert landed the role of Freddy Krueger in the first Nightmare on Elm Street, a role that would last for ten years and seven movies (soon to be eight). "Playing Freddy is a pleasure for me," he said on the set of the second film. "I get to scream, run around and torture nubile teenage girls. Hell! Who could ask for more than that?"
Robert has a very clear idea of who Freddy is and what he represents. He says, "Freddy represents all the things that are out of kilter in the world, all the sins of the parents that are being passed on. I don't think teenagers ever take Freddy as a hero or antihero. I think they enjoy the consistency of this evil character and the unapologetic relish that he has for his reign of terror. But no one wants to grow up and be Freddy, for god's sake. Freddy is this burned guy in a smelly sweater."
Robert says of Freddy's progression throughout the series, "I didn't make any changes in the Freddy character. If we had tried to top the primal horrors and gore in part one, we would have hit a ceiling very early on where we would not have been able to go any further. There is not much more we could have done unless we had Freddy sitting around and drinking blood. The decision was made to exploit the world of special effects. The real hook is the dream sequence; everybody has had a nightmare at one time or another."
Robert had to sit through hours of makeup to become Freddy, which resulted in severe discomfort and a swollen face. Robert fought to keep Freddy wearing the hat, because he thought it gave Freddy "a rather jaunty look and a kind of strange sense of vanity."
Robert's role as Freddy led him into a very successful career. He has starred in such movies as The Phanton of the Opera, Tobe Hooper's Night Terrors, Dance Macabre, and The Mangler. He also appeared in the T.V. series Freddy's Nightmares and on a short lived T.V. show called Nightmare Cafe (no connection to the Nightmare movies). He has made guest appearances on over 13 T.V. shows, including Soap, MacGyver, and Married... With Children, and he took a break from the Nightmare series to direct a film called 976-EVIL. He also worked as a director on Freddy's Nightmares. Robert married Nancy Booth in 1989. He says, "Freddy has allowed me to travel all around the world, probably ten times now. He has enabled me to star in three movies in Europe, to direct films and television here. He bought my little dream cottage for my wife and I down on Laguna Beach. He has made me very comfortable. Everybody knows me in Hollywood, and I think that they are happy that I have been able to land on my but in a tub of butter." (whatever that means!)