On June 6th, 1947 (that’s 70 years ago today) a nightmare was born. That nightmare was Robert Barton Englund who is better known to pop culture as the man who played Freddy Krueger. Englund’s a legend in film for playing one of the greatest slasher villains of all time, but his career spans far beyond Kreuger. From Star Wars to Freddy to Injustice 2, Robert Englund’s long tenure in Hollywood provides a lot of work to admire.
Happy Birthday to Robert Englund! Here’s a look back through his career.
Before landing the role of mass murderer Freddy Krueger, Englund was a classically trained actor making waves on stage. After appearing in plays by Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, Englund landed a small film role. And like a snowball, Englund’s career kept rolling and growing. Eventually, Englund landed a role in the TV mini-series V as a humble “Visitor.” Englund would reprise his role in the sequel, V: The Final Battle.
During this period in his life, Englund was considered for the role of Han Solo in the original Star Wars. He also encouraged a friend who was sleeping on his couch to audition. That friend was Mark Hamill.
The Freddy Years
Feeling typecast as a “nerd” or “hillbilly” type, Englund took a wild left turn by playing the burnt dream demon, Freddy Krueger. What is there to say about Freddy? He’s as iconic a movie villain as they come. Understanding Englund’s theatre background makes it easy to understand why Freddy was so fantastic with his exaggerated moves and attitude.
Englund played Krueger from 1984 all the way until 2003 across eight films and one short-lived television series. During that time, however, Englund also starred in Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler, Wishmaster, Urban Legend, not to mention countless TV shows, and featuring as a voice in some beloved animated series.
Since 2003, Englund’s focus is more on smaller horror films and voice work, including providing the voice for Dr. Jonathon Crane aka The Scarecrow in Injustice 2. The actor’s also voiced Felix Faust, The Riddler, and Myglom for DC animated outings and The Vulture in The Spectacular Spider-Man.
Englund’s horror films, though lacking in the mainstream power of Krueger, prove to be a class in dramatic acting. Englund’s classically trained style is at its best in movies like Inkubus or The Last Showing.
Return to Freddy
A new documentary called Nightmares in the Makeup Chair takes a look at the use of practical makeup effects. In the doc, Robert Englund reprises his role as Freddy Krueger, for a minute anyway, and pays tribute to Wes Craven. Englund says of the doc “I think it might inspire a new generation of practical effects artists.”