ROBERT Englund laughs, takes a deep breath and speaks clearly – “I did not audition for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars!”
I had just asked the 62-year-old Hollywood horror legend if his science fiction credentials, already strong enough after V, were even more impressive.
Although I was disappointed when he seemingly gutted my question with more ruthlessness than even Freddy Krueger could muster, as with every answer he gave during our 40 minute chat, I was not disappointed for long.
He went on to explain: “The internet is so full of misinformation – I’m waiting for them to declare Germany won World War Two. I was actually auditioning for the role of the surfer in Apocalypse Now but they said I was too old for that, but I was dressed kind of military so they suggested I might be right for a film across the hall.
“I went across and it was auditions for Star Wars where they actually saw me for Han Solo, although they said I was too young!
“At the time this happened, there was a young actor crashing on the couch in my apartment in the Hollywood Hills – Mark Hamill, who would later audition for Luke and change his life. I think he had spoken to his agent about the role, but I may have even mentioned to him there was a great project and remember sharing details of that audition with him too.”
Robert added: “Mark and I were and are great pals. I was kind of a serious guy in those days and a bit of a theatre snob who wore corderoy patches on the elbows of my jacket and a roll neck top, but he helped me lighten up. I remember we would spend time in my apartment and listen to all of the Monty Python albums on bootleg tapes he had made.
“In the afternoon we’d be waiting for our agents to call so we’d get drunk on Heineken beer and watch Mary Tyler Moore re-runs – that’s what we did to pass the time.
“He’s so funny too. I think he could be a stand up and I’m waiting for someone to offer him a comedy role so everyone will say oh my god what a versatile actor. He could always do that, but he was so good looking he became typecast as a leading man.”
You see what I mean? And that was one question!
Robert has packed many more anecdotes into his autobiography, Hollywood Monster, detailing his time in tinseltown and the people he has met and worked with along the way. If you want to buy Hollywood Monster, click here.
With the 25th anniversary of V and a Nightmare on Elm Street coming around this year and both being remade, it felt ‘a perfect storm’ for him, and the perfect time to look back and put pen to paper. Listening to him describe his experiences, it is hard to believe that this natural and engaging storyteller played one of the most terrifying characters in movie history, responsible for countless sleepless nights.
There’s no trace of Freddy now though as he said: “I had originally conceived it an affectionate valentine with all the horror gossip and telling tales out of school, but I was writing it all down and starting to organise it when I realised ‘my God, I’ve worked with everybody for the last few decades in Hollywood.
“I’d acted alongside some of the great stars like Charles Bronson, Burt Reynolds, James Earl Jones and Barbra Streisand, some huge names from the golden age of Hollywood like Henry Fonda and Lillian Gish, and younger actors too like Johnny Depp and Jared Leto.
“I even worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first movie, so I started to fashion the whole book as a Hollywood memoir.
“It was a big undertaking for six months of my life, but I’m proud of it and think the fans will enjoy and people who like stories of Hollywood will enjoy too.
“There are alot of stories from a working actor’s perspective of working with big stars, as well as people on their way up and way down. The things they told me and shared with me, I can now share with the readers too.”
As well as his time making the Nightmare on Elm Street films, Robert looks back with tremendous fondness at his time making V in the book. Here’s a clip
“Science fiction fans, who are a huge demographic, were starved of anything new to watch and then suddenly here comes V which was a tremendous event with a really clever premise and great marketing too.
“Playing Willie, I became a de facto Mr Spock for a while and I can remember signing autographs with William Shatner while thousands of people waited to see us.”
He added: “The thing I remember most is the fabulous friendships I made while working on the programme. I remember once Michael Ironside, a wonderful character actor, had to save me once when a stunt went wrong.
“He carried me in to see Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon so I could have special stitches, so clearly V brought about a seminal change in my life and was my first brush with celebrity where people could put a name to my face.
“It was a great time for me and very lucrative too, meaning for the first time I could have some security as an actor, although I feel old now when I see they are rebooting V.”
Robert has first hand evidence of this when he passes giant billboards advertising the new series as he drives into Los Angeles from his home in Laguna Beach.
“They look just the same as ours,” he laughs. “The big V in red paint was funny to see again after all this time – a real sense of deja vu. I guess it shows that the original shows had an impact.”
But what everyone wants to know is would Robert ever go back to V?
So there you have it! Here’s the link to part two, where Robert discusses being Freddy Kreuger, the new Nightmare on Elm Street and his advice to Jackie Earle Haley. As a taster, here’s Robert as Freddy back in the day and the trailer for the new film.