SAN FRANCISCO — One, two ... Freddy's coming for you. But are you ready for the dreaded celluloid serial killer to return April 30 for the new "A Nightmare on Elm Street," or would you be better off having never had your sleep disturbed by him?
We recently caught up with actor Jackie Earle Haley, who dons the signature fedora as the new Freddy Krueger, as well as four of his fresh-face targets: Katie Cassidy, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker and Kyle Gallner. The actors had differing opinions on whether "Nightmare" nerds or novices are better suited to relish the reboot.
"I've only seen the first one," said Mara, who plays Nancy Thompson, Freddy's most desired, difficult prey. "I saw it three-quarters of the way through filming. I'd only seen bits and pieces growing up. When this one came around, I was like, 'I don't want [Heather Langenkamp of the 1984 original] to influence the performance.' So I just decided I'd wait until I had everything figured out."
Cassidy didn't see her first Freddy flick until after filming, when she began re-recording dialogue for the 2010 remake. "I know it's bad to say," Cassidy said with a smile. "But I have to admit, yes, when I had this audition, I was crazy with traveling [and] 'Melrose Place.' I had this audition and hadn't seen the original.
"When I got the role, I had done [horror remakes] before," said Cassidy, who was similarly terrorized in 2006's "Black Christmas." Like Mara, Cassidy was concerned about her performance. "It was more of a choice that wouldn't affect anything I'd done in my audition, which was obviously what they liked and what they responded to. So, I haven't seen any of [Robert Englund's performances], but I will."
"Come over to my house. I'll make spaghetti, and we'll watch a marathon," co-star Dekker offered Cassidy. "I own the box [set]."
But Cassidy is not alone. It's been seven years since "Freddy vs. Jason" and 16 years since the last proper "Nightmare" film, meaning a generation of moviegoers has never seen Krueger kill on the big screen. So should newcomers spend the next three weeks cramming in viewings of the last eight "Nightmare" films?
"I saw it when I was 12," Dekker, a die-hard fan, recalled. "I've seen all of them; 'Dream Warriors' was my favorite. I mean, c'mon: Patricia Arquette, the head through the television, 'It's your big break into primetime bi---!' That's, like, one of the best moments ever. And the Dokken song!"
"I re-watched the first film," Haley said. But the actor deliberately stopped short of looking at any of the other movies in which Englund played Freddy. "[The first movie] is the film that we were re-envisioning. It's different, but yet there are some similarities to that film, definitely in tone," he said.
Asked whether he thinks he'll headline as many "Nightmare" films as Englund, Haley said, "I'll take them one at a time. We'll see how it goes."
"I think the two films are different," Dekker said. "In a weird way, that's the balance of a remake: There are moments in the plot that are alike in many, many ways. But at the same time, Jackie's portrayal of Freddy is night-and-day with Robert's."
"Having not seen the original, I can't make that comparison," Cassidy said, "but I can say that my interpretation of what Jackie did was [that it was] fantastic."
"It was [Haley's] own portrayal; he made it his own," Dekker agreed. "Even people who loved the original Robert Englund portrayal will still love him, because it's a new villain in a way, even though it's connected."
Now that this cast has filmed an entire movie with Freddy, what advice would they offer fans encountering the madman? "He's super ticklish," said Mara, who urged potential victims to wiggle a finger across Freddy's belly. "Freddy is really ticklish. It's so weird!"
"He also loves ice cream, walks on the beach, bubble baths," Gallner revealed. "He's a fairly simple guy."
Are you a "Nightmare" know-it-all or novice? Let us know in the comments!
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