After five years of success in regional theater Robert Englund returned to the west coast where he had grown up. His very first audition landed him a starring role in the 1973 film Buster and Billie directed by Daniel Petrie.
Far from living the classic hand to mouth existence of a struggling actor, Englund worked steadily through the 70’s playing best friends, bad guy #1 and southern red-necks and starring opposite Henry Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Bridges, Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger among others.
In the 70’s, regarded as the second Golden Age of American movies, Englund was privileged to work for such classic film directors as Robert Aldrich, Robert Mulligan, J. Lee Thompson, Bob Rafelson and John Milius.
During this time Englund was living in Malibu, fishing off his porch at high tide and surfing when not slogging through traffic on the seemingly endless rounds of interviews and call-backs that fill the days of every working actor. He guest starred in scores of TV shows as well as working alongside some of the biggest stars of that decade including Barbra Streisand, Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson.
Finally audiences could put a name to his familiar face when Englund was cast as Willie the friendly alien in the hit mini-series and subsequent weekly TV show “V”. Within weeks, Englund went from questions like: “Didn’t I go to high school with you?” to “Aren’t you that lizard guy on TV?”. Decades later Willie still generates fan mail from science fiction devotees both in America and around the world.
The series was a huge success. As a result Englund figured he would be eternally typecast as a sweet and lovable alien. To counter-balance this public image, he looked for a role that would allow him to demonstrate another side of his talents. During one hiatus from filming the series, he auditioned for a hot young director making an interesting low budget horror movie for the independent studio New Line Cinema. Englund’s interview with Wes Craven landed him the role playing the burn scarred dream demon Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street and launched him into horror history.
An international hit, the movie made New Line Cinema a major Hollywood player and prompted seven sequels and a syndicated TV series. The character of Freddy Krueger has appeared on talk shows, comic books, rap videos, and even cartoon appearances as a guest on “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” and “Family Guy.” There are numerous Freddy Krueger action figures, dolls, and attendant merchandising including video games. Gottlieb came out with a very popular pin-ball machine based on the movies.
Englund’s portrayal of Freddy Krueger blasted him into the pop culture vernacular as heir apparent to the horror icons of the past, destined to stand alongside Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera and Boris Karloff’s monster in Frankenstein.
In the mid 80’s Englund starred in the hour-long network TV series “Downtown,” a serio-comic look at parolees. The short-lived series also starred Blair Underwood and Marishka Hargitay.
Acting on the small screen afforded Englund the opportunity to work with such diverse talent as Lillian Gish, Jack Warden, Sissy Spacek, Martin Balsam, Richard Thomas, James Earl Jones, Bruce Davidson, Lou Gosset, Jr and Hal Holbrook.
The international success of “V” and the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels opened the door for film work abroad. Englund has starred in movies shot in such exotic locales as Budapest, Bucharest, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Madrid, Palermo, Barcelona and Zagreb.
Englund is sought after as a guest at film festivals all over Europe and has served on juries and been celebrated with awards at festivals in Paris, Rome, Brussels and Sitges (Spain) to name a few.
After over 75 feature length films, four TV series and countless episodic guest star roles, Englund is now directing as well as acting, and exploring the world of reality TV, internet programming and voice-over work.
"Most of my nightmares involve forgetting my lines in a stage play."
Buster and Billie (1974) as Whitey – View Album
Sunburst (1975) as Michael Sutherland – View Album
Hustle (1975) as Hold-up Man – View Album
Stay Hungry (1976) as Franklin – View Album
St. Ives (1976) – View Album
A Star is Born (1976) as Marty (uncredited) – View Album
The Hardy Boys (1977) – View Album
Eaten Alive (1977) as Buck – View Album
The Great Smokey Roadblock (1977) as Beebo Crozier – View Album
Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy (1977) as Willy
Police Woman (1978) as Jonas – View Album
Big Wednesday (1978) as Fly – View Album
The Courage and the Passion (1978) as Sgt. Bell
Bloodbrothers (1978) as Mott – View Album
The Fifth Floor (1978) as Benny – View Album
The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979) as Informer
Police Story: A Cry for Justice (1979) as Painter – View Album
Soap Episode 3.2/3.3 (1979) as Simon – View Album
Mind Over Murder (1979) as Ted Beasly – View Album
California Fever Centerfold Episode (1979) as Buddy Burns
Paris Episode Dead Men Don’t Kill (1979) as J.J. Eastwick
Flo Episode The Hero of Flo’s Yellow Rose (1980) as Web – View Album
CHiPS Episode Forty Tons of Trouble (1981) as Zack – View Album
Walking Tall Episode The Killing of McNeal County’s Children (1981) as Bobby Joe Wilson – View Album
Dead & Buried (1981) as Harry – View Album
Galaxy of Terror (1981) as Ranger – View Album
Hart to Hart Episode Rhinestone Harts (1981) as Buddy Kilgore – View Album
Thou Shalt Not Kill (1982) as Bobby Collins
Mysterious Two (1982) as Boone – View Album
Cassie & Co. Episode Fade Out (1982)
Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder (1982) as Tripper – View Album
The Fighter (1983) as Charlie – View Album
Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land (1983) as Scott – View Album
Simon & Simon Episode Red Dog Blues (1983) as 3-Card Monty
V (1983) as Willie – View Album
I Want to Live (1983) as Sam Cooper
Manimal Episode Night of the Beast (1983) as Thug
Hobson’s Choice (1983) as Freddy Beenstock – View Album
Journey’s End (1983)
Alice Episode Vera, the Horse Thief (1984) as Sammy
V: The Final Battle (1984) as Willie – View Album
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
V The TV Series (1984–1985) as Willie – View Album
Hollywood Beat Pilot Episode (1985) as Captain Crusader
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
Night Court Episode Dan’s Boss (1985) as Arnold Preminger
Hunter Episode Million Dollar Misunderstanding (1985) as Vaughn
MacGyver Episode Flame’s End (1986) as Tim Wexler
Knight Rider Episode Fright Knight (1986) as Edward Kent – View Album
North and South, Book II Episode 1.3 (1986) as Deserter
Never Too Young to Die (1986) as Riley
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
Infidelity (1987) as Scott
Downtown (1986-1987) as Dennis Shothoffer – View Album
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
D.C. Follies Episode Freddy Krueger’s Nightmare: Dan Quayle Elected President (1988) as Freddy Krueger
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
C.H.U.D. II – Bud the Chud (1989) Man in Trenchcoat Walking with Trick-or-Treaters (uncredited)
The Phantom of the Opera (1989) – View Album
Freddy’s Nightmares (1988–1990) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990) as Smiley – View Album
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) as Freddy Krueger – View Albums
Nightmare Cafe (6 Episodes) (1992) as Blackie – View Album
Dance Macabre (1992) as Anthony Wager / Madame – View Album
Night Terrors (1993) – View Album
A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle (1994) as Peter Cartwright
New Nightmare (1994) as Robert Englund – View Album
Mortal Fear (1994) – View Album
The Mangler (1995) as William ‘Bill’ Gartley – View Album
Legend Episode The Gospel According to Legend (1995) as Mordechai / WIlly Miles
The Unspoken Truth (1995) as Ernest Trainor – View Album
Starquest II (1996) as Father O’neill
Walker, Texas Ranger Episode Deadline (1996) as Lyle Eckert
Babylon 5 Episode Grey 17 is Missing (1996) as Jeremiah – View Album
Killer Tongue (La Lengua Asesina) (1996) as prison Director – View Album
The Paper Brigade (1996) as Crazy Man Cooper – View Album
Sliders Episode State of the A.R.T. (1996) as Dr. James Aldohn
The Vampyre Wars (1996)
Perfect Target (1997) as Colonel Shakwell – View Album
Married with Children Episode Damn Bundys (1997) as Lucifer – View Album
Wishmaster (1997) as Raymond Beaumont – View Album
Meet the Deedles (1998) as Nemo
Urban Legend (1998) as Professor William Wexler – View Album
Strangeland (1998) as Jackson Roth – View Album
The Simpsons Episode Treehouse of Horror IX (1998) as Freddy Krueger (voice)
The Jamie Foxx Show Episode Bro-Jack (1999) as Clive
The Hughleys Episode Storm o’ the Century (1999) as Evil Bloodthirsty Brian
The Prince and the Surfer (1999) as Kratski – View Album
Python (2000) as Dr. Anton Rudolph – View Album
The Nightmare Room Episode The Howler (2001) as Mr. Bell
Charmed Episode Size Matters (2001) as Gammill – View Album
Cold Sweat (2002) as Starring
Wish You Were Dead (2002) as Bernie Garces
Freddy vs. Jason Weigh-In Las Vegas (2003) as Freddy Krueger
Windfall (2003) as Scratch – View Album
Freddy vs. Jason (2003) as Freddy Krueger – View Album
As a Bad Dream (2003) as Professor
Return of Cagliostro (Il Ritorno di Cagliostro) (2003) as Errol Douglas – View Album
Nobody Knows Anything! (2003) as Jack Sampson
I’m with Her Episode All About Evil (2003) as Leonard Hackman
Dubbed and Dangerous 3 (2004) as Mr. Englund
Super Robot monkey Team Hyperforce Go! Episode Circus of Ooze (2004) as Ringmaster
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmare (2005) as Host / Freddy Krueger
Justice League (2002-2005) as Felix Faust (voice)
2001 Maniacs (2005) as Mayor Buckman – View Album
Masters of Horror Episode Dance of the Dead (2005) as The MC – View Album
Hatchet (2006) as Sampson – View Album
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) as Doc Halloran – View Album
Heartstopper (2006) as Sheriff Richard Berger – View Album
The Batman (2005-2007) as Riddler (voice)
Bodog Music Battle of the Bands Episode Los Angeles: Part 2 (2007)
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007) as Professor Gordon Crowley – View Album
Black Swarm (2007) as Eli Giles – View Album
Red (2008) as Mr. Doust – View Album
Zombie Strippers (2008) as Ian – View Album
The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008-2009) as Adrian Toomes / Vulture (voice) – View Album
Night of the Sinner (2008) as The Prince – View Album
The Super Hero Squad Show Episode Enter Dormammu (2009) as Dormammu
Fear Clinic 5 Episodes (2009) as Dr. Andover – View Album
Bones (2010) as Ray Buxley – View Album
I Want to Be a Soldier (2010) as the Psychiatrist – View Album
Chuck (2010) as Dr. Stanley Wheelwright – View Album
Supernatural (2010) as Dr. Robert in Season 6, Episode 11, Appointment in Samarra – View Album
Hollywood Don’t Surf! (2010) as Himself
Good Day for It (2011) as Wayne Jackson
Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (2011) as Dormammu (Voice)
Call of the Dead (2011) as Robert Englund (Voice) – View Album
The Sexy Dark Ages (2011) Short
Inkubus (2011) as Inkubus – View Album
Regular Show (2011) as the Deer Man
Hawaii Five-0 (2011) as Samuel Lee – View Album
Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of the Dead (2011) as Himself – View Album
Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2012) as Myglom
Criminal Minds (2012) as Detective Gassner – View Album
Strippers vs Werewolves (2012) as Tapper – View Album
Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012) as Jim Bickerman – View Album
Zombie Mutation (2012) as Dream Man
Workaholics (2013) Das r. TelAmeriCorp/Josh – View Album
Sanitarium (2013) as Sam – View Album
The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue (2013) as Mr. Confab – View Album
The Last Showing (2014) – View Album
Randy Cunningham: 9th grade Ninja (2014) as Jason Meyers
Fear Clinic (2014) as Dr Andover – View Album
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) as Dire Beaver / Dread Beaver
Kantemir (2014) as John – View Album
976-EVIL (1988) – View Album
Freddy’s Nightmare (1989) Episode’s Monkey Dreams and Cabin Fever – View Album
Killer Pad (2008)
Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors (1986)
The Arsenio Hall Show (1989) Episode 1.43
The Making of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street IV’ (1989)
Live with Kelly and Michael (1989) October / August 1989 Episodes
The Horror Hall of Fame (1990) as Host / Narrator – View Album
Un dia es un dia (1990) Episode 2.15
Showbiz Today (1991) September 1991 Episode
The Horror Hall of Fame II (1991) as Host / Narrator
The Making of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) as Himself / Freddy Krueger
Slash & Burn: The Freddy Krueger Story (1991)
One on One with John Tesh (1992)
Freddy Speaks (1992) as Host
The Horror Hall of Fame III (1992) as Host / Narrator
Masters of Illusion: The Wizards of Special Effects (1994)
Late Night with Conan O’Brian (1994) Episode 2.36
Cartelera (1994) December 1994 Episode
Moviewatch (1995) as Himself / Interviewee
Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie (1995)
Lo + plus (1995)
Halloween… The Happy Haunting of America! (1997)
MADtv (1998) Episode Halloween Spooktacular
The Directors (1999) Episode The Films of Wes Craven
Welcome to Primetime (1999)
Scream and Scream Again: A History of the Slasher Film (2000)
The Test (2001) Episode The Fashion Test (II)
AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villians (2003)
Robert Englund: An Early Work of Horror (2003)
V Graham Norton (2003) Episode 4.60
Tinestown TV (2003)
MTV Video Music Awards 2003 (2003)
The 100 Greatest Scary Moments (2003)
Genesis: Development Hell (2004)
High Chaparall (2004)
The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004)
Ultimate Super Heroes, Vixens & Villians (2005)
The Perfect Scary Movie (2005)
My Name is Buck: A look Back as ‘Eaten Alive’ (2006)
Inside the Asyum: The Making of ‘2001 Maniacs’ (2006)
The House That Freddy Built (2006)
Never Sleep Again: The Making of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (2006)
The Making of ‘Hatchet’ (2007)
Spider-Man: Re-Animated (2009)
Broken Toy (2009)
Troldspejlet (2009) Episode 42.17
Buenafuente (2010) January 2010 Episode
Fear Clinic: Directors Dairies (2010)
Post Mortem with Mick Garris (2010)
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans (2010)
Hollywood Don’t Surf (2010) as Narrator
Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making of Galaxy of Terror (2010)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) Video Game
Gylne tider (2010) Episode 4.7
Women of Horror Special (2011)
Scream: The Inside Story (2011)
I am Nancy (2011)
Underground Entertainment: The Movie (2011)
El hormiguero (2011) October 2011 Episode
Els matins a TV3 (2011) Episode 8.34
Pagina 2 (2011) Episode 5.6
Undead Noise (2012) Episode Convention Adventures
Meeting Freddy Krueger (2012)
Calgary Expo 2012 (2012)
Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger (2012) as Himself / Narrator
Come Dine with Me (2012) Episode Halloween Special as Himself – View Album
MovieCops (2013) Episode Movie Days/The Dark Zone: Das Special Teil 2
Crystal lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)
Witches Blood (2014)
The Greatest 80s Movies (2014) as Himself / Freddy Krueger
Svengoolie (2014) Episode The Monster and the Girl
Behind the Mask: The Making of the Phantom of the Opera (2015)
Q: How long does the Freddy makeup take to put on?
Every day, I was in that chair for three to four hours or more. Four hours to be camera ready with the jigsaw puzzle of twelve or more pieces of pre-painted foam latex glued to my face with the seams blended together. Then I’d wear Freddy’s teeth and sometimes contact lenses.
If souls were going to bust through Freddy’s head or torso, then there would be tubes, goat bladders, and sometimes armature under the makeup. That would take a lot more hours.
Q: How did you get cast as Freddy?
I was starring in the international hit TV show “Visitors” at the time, playing Willie the good alien. The science fiction audience is so loyal and “V” was virtually the only Sci-Fi show on so I thought I would be playing Willie forever. I was interested in having a contrasting character out there.
I was on hiatus from “V,” and my agent sent me on an interview with Wes Craven to audition for Freddy. I knew who Wes was because he had a cult following. I had been hanging in a New Wave bar where scenes from The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left were playing in a continuous loop alongside David Lynch’s Eraserhead. I was curious and interested in working for Wes Craven. I looked very tan and healthy, but I knew he wanted a monster. When I arrived at the interview, I smeared some cigarette ash under my eyes to make them look sunken. I popped the hood of my car and pulled the dipstick and ran some engine oil through my blond curls to make my hair flat and thin.
I can be a bit of a motor mouth, I tend to talk a lot. But when I got in the room with Wes, I just stared at him. I just listened while he told me the story of Freddy the dream stalker. The next thing I knew I had the part.
Q: Why weren’t you in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street?
Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) was the eighth and final Freddy movie for me. I was happy to hang up the glove after battling that “puckface” Jason.
I felt that movie brought the character back to the eternal fan question… “What if Freddy fought…” You know, Pinhead, Michael Myers etc…
Actors rarely do remakes of their own movies. Michael Bay et al want to reboot the franchise.
Q: What did you think of the remake?
Honestly, when I first heard Nightmare was being remade, I was very interested. The first Nightmare movie is very original and very scary. It is like folk art. But the low budget shows at times. Now, anything you can imagine, you can create on the screen. The dream world, the incredible illogic of nightmares, can all be created with CGI. It is inevitable that movies get remade, especially as technology advances.There are only so many stories. Stories will always be more important than mere effects.
Q: What is your favorite of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies?
I like 3: Dream Warriors and 4: The Dream Master as a double bill. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was a great reunion with John Saxon and Heather Langenkamp. I think it is the most clever, the first deconstructed horror movie where we wink at the fans and also deliver the scares. My favorite Freddy performance is Part 4.
Q: What are your favorite horror movies?
The list changes but would always include the following:
Brian de Palma’s Sisters
The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr, directed by the brilliant Jack Clayton
Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby
May directed by Lucky McKee
Fraility directed by and starring Bill Paxton
Q: How did you get started as an actor?
When I was 12, I accompanied my cousin to the prestigious Teenage Drama Workshop at California State University, Northridge. I thought I was going to be an usher or help out backstage, but instead I landed the starring roles of Pinocchio, Aladdin, and Hansel. When I got my first big laughs as Pinocchio, I was hooked. Hanging out back stage with the harem girls from Aladdin who were blowing smoke rings wearing only sequin covered brassieres helped seal the deal. I was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London then attended the American branch of the school. After college, I was a theater snob working in the mid-west. I saw my friends in movies so decided to move back home to California to give films a try. I landed a starring role on my very first audition in a movie called Buster and Billie in the spring of 1973 and never stopped working.
Q: You will always be identified with the iconic “Freddy.” What was on the page, and what did you bring to the role?
It’s true, Freddy will get top billing in my obituary.
Wes Craven wrote the story, came up with the character of Freddy. Freddy is a boogeyman who exists in the subconscious imagination of his future victims. He hates the young, he exploits their weaknesses, their fears and flaws. He is the bastard step-father of us all. He is a cruel clown bent on revenge, punishing the families of those who victimized him. He stalks them in their dream landscape where he exploits their most private fears. I think the fans respond to Freddy’s unapologetic, politically incorrect joy in his revenge.
Freddy’s glove, that he made in his boiler room, is now a classic horror image. The actual weight of the glove gave me the idea for Freddy’s “gunslinger” posture with one shoulder dropped down. Klaus Kinsky’s performance in Nosforatu also influenced how I move as Freddy.
When I flesh out my character, I start with the script, the words, and build from there, adding a voice, movements, and a menacing stance. The make-up liberated me so that I could be more physical and theatrical.
Freddy’s deep voice and cruel sense of humor came from Wes Craven’s script. The fans instantly fell in love with Freddy’s dark humor. The writers, directors, and especially editors of the sequels exploited this.
Q: What scares you, Robert?
I used to say snakes, but then I did Python and worked with a cute baby python who cured me of that phobia. Now I worry about texting teens behind the wheel.