Don’t believe that Freddy Krueger is one of the greatest icons of modern pop culture? Or that Wes Craven’s 1984 horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” will be remembered far longer than many of that decade’s Oscar winners? For proof, look no further than your own doorstep Saturday night — and all the scarred, razor-clawed, striped-sweater-wearing baddies you’ll see begging for your Butterfingers.
Now, “Watchmen” star Jackie Earle Haley is stepping into the dreams of “Nightmare” fans worldwide, answering their call to succeed Robert Englund as the new Freddy. And the questions surrounding his April 2010 unveiling are as obvious as Freddy’s hatred for teenagers: What will be different, and what will he keep the same?
“I think the glove is pretty familiar,” the Oscar-nominated Haley said, sitting down for a rare on-set interview with MTV News while wearing his variation on Englund’s classic red-and-green-striped sweater. “It’s really important for us, I think, as we’re reimagining this that there is a good, strong sense of new and fresh — yet there’s some recognizability, you know?”
The strategy makes sense. Regularly ranked as one of the top 10 villains in the history of cinema, Freddy has yielded eight movies, a TV show, video games, comic books and enough memorabilia to fill a small airport hangar. A quarter-century later, his fans are still grabbing their crucifixes and staying up late, afraid they’ll never sleep again.
“A lot of what was in that first movie is also in this movie, as far as the structure of it and how it plays out,” revealed Haley, who’ll terrorize Kellan Lutz (“Twilight”), Katie Cassidy (“Melrose Place”) and relative newcomer Rooney Mara as the new Nancy Thompson. “It’s a little bit deeper; we dove into Freddy’s background a little bit more.
“It’s a very similar background to what we know about him,” Haley explained of the backstory involving the bastard son of 100 maniacs, as depicted in the later “Nightmare” sequels produced by Craven. “But we dove into it a little bit more. I think it’s going to be a neat homage to Wes’ original film.”
But the elephant in the room, of course, is whether Haley will embrace Krueger’s “cheesy” side — as depicted by everything from smart-alecky lines like “Well, this ain’t Dr. Seuss!” to MTV guest-VJ gigs to hanging out with the Fat Boys, Dokken and Will Smith.
“You know, I think my Freddy is a bit more serious,” Haley said, promising a return to Freddy’s dark, shadowy roots. “He’s not much of a comedian.
“But I am working on my tap-dancing lessons,” he grinned. “Just in case they do a sequel.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
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