When you sleep and dream, he kills. That’s the premise that has kept plenty of young horror fans awake for days after seeing the 1984 film about Freddy Krueger and his razor-fingered hands. This movie spawned sequels, related films and a TV series.
Wes Craven wrote the original A Nightmare on Elm Street after he became inspired by a series of newspaper articles about children who had suffered through a war and died from the power of their recurring nightmares. The initial low-budget film, which starred Robert Englund as Freddy, became an international sensation for New Line Cinema — affectionately called “The House That Freddy Built” — and spawned a number of sequels.
Now Freddy is ready to terrify a new generation in this update starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy. Costar Connie Britton, who plays Nancy’s mother Gwen Holbrook, says of Haley, “He was amazing [as Rorschach] in Watchmen. There’s something about him as an actor, that he’s not afraid to go to these dark places and he makes them accessible for all of us. So when I heard he was playing it, I thought, ‘He’s going to give it a scariness, a dimension beyond what anybody else would do with it.’”
When word came out that a remake of Nightmare was being planned, fans of the original film speculated on Internet sites that Haley would be an ideal Freddy. “My immediate reaction was, ‘That’s kind of cool!’ And then when the producers called and actually offered me the role, I was pretty flabbergasted,” Haley says. “It was just an absolute honor to be offered the role of Freddy.”
The actor adds, “Robert [Englund] did an amazing job portraying Freddy over the years. He made him who he is. What we’re doing with Freddy with this new approach is still trying to be true to those things that fill him with rage, and the specifics that make him the malevolent villain that he is. But I think we’re trying to capture him in a way that’s darker and a little bit more serious — less jokey and, hopefully, more scary.”
Though Haley researched serial killers in preparation for the role, he chose to take Freddy out of the realm of reality and into that of myth. “I realized I wasn’t playing a serial killer,” he says. “I wanted to be true to who Freddy Krueger is and yet still bring a little bit of realism to his backstory and what it was that turned him into this.”
Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Holbrook in the film. She is currently on the big screen in The Social Network and filming another much-anticipated remake, playing computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.