One, two Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four better lock your door. Five, six grab your crucifix. Seven, eight gonna stay up late. Nine, ten never sleep again! Jackie Earle Haley should get used to that tune since he’s taken on the role of horror icon, Freddy Krueger. The actor made an appearance at this year’s Comic-Con to promote the remake of 1984′s, A Nightmare on Elm Street. As usual, in person he’s the exact opposite of the sadistic characters he plays onscreen.
Check out what Freddy… I mean Jackie had to say after the jump!
How does it feel to wear the sweater and the hat?
JEH: It feels warm and shady. Thank you. [Laughs] No, it was incredibly motivating. Just throwing on the iconic outfit was surreal. Standing there the first time wearing that getup, it was a trip. And then you add in the makeup on top of the wardrobe, and it was surreal. It was a trip to be looking in the mirror at Freddy [Krueger].
Was there anything specific that you wanted to add to your portrayal of this iconic character?
JEH: Yeah, I thought it would be really interesting giving him a Scottish accent. Not sure why, but I think it works though. [Laughs] No, it’s definitely a scary process trying to step into the shoes of Robert Englund, who has owned this character for decades. He’s done a brilliant job with it. His embodiment, his performance, is what makes Freddy who he is. So the challenge now is going back in time and paying homage to this first movie and rebooting it. It was kind of important again to have these qualities that you’re familiar with, like the sweater and the hat and the glove, things that we know, but yet, also to try to find a freshness and a newness to this re-envisioning. I think the makeup that Andrew Clement designed is incredible. I think where Sam [Bayer] and I were coming from with it is darker, more serious, less jokey, and hopefully scarier and more intense.
I always liked the funny Freddy.
JEH: Me too!
Is there any room for some dark humor?
JEH: I think there’s some of that in there, but I think this is probably a better question for Sam.
A lot of actors have very intense nightmares. Do you have them, and if so, did that factor into your process of preparing for the character?
JEH: I don’t know that it really figured into the process, but I do recall this crazy reoccurring dream when I was a teenager, maybe it started younger. I was literally in the bed that I’m sleeping, so it seems like I’m awake, but I’m obviously still sleeping. This big tarantula-ly looking, six-foot tall bug thing chases me down the hall and whacks me. And I could not stop dreaming about this thing, and then finally it stopped. But it was very unsettling, very scary and just really bizarre. And then, of course, there’s the wonderful nightmare of being onstage. The curtain opens, and you haven’t even looked at the script yet. That’s a fun dream. [Laughs]
After playing Rorschach, was it daunting at all taking on another huge iconic character?
JEH: Definitely. Daunting, scary and just super exciting and thrilling at the same time. When these guys asked me to play Freddy Krueger, I mean just the notion of getting to play another iconic character like this is, so iconic, it’s a thrill. It’s scary, and it’s a thrill. And again, because somebody has owned this character for so long, what a wonderful opportunity it is, to get to step in and to have a go at it.
Have you talked to Robert at all about the character?
JEH: No, I haven’t.
Do you plan on it?
JEH: We were going to hook up at some point in time, but I was never able to get in the same city at the same time. We going to hook up and have a dinner. But for my birthday, my manager and my agent have gotten me an original ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ poster, and so I’m going to try to hunt down Robert and get him to sign it, if he would be so kind to sign it for me. I want to hang it in my office. That would be very cool.
What was it like putting on the glove?
JEH: It was pretty cool. It was cool and weird and surreal at the same time. At first, the very first one I put on didn’t fit at all. It’s this process of them making it exactly fit my hand. A lot of times there wouldn’t be set up time between shots or whatever, so I’d just have this thing on. It would be stuck there sometimes for an hour. So I would be a little worried about poking my eye out or accidentally scratching my makeup, and, ‘Oh no, two-hour fix on the makeup!’ Luckily, we never had that. I also was a little concerned about maybe falling on the thing, and luckily that never happened. [Laughs]
In terms of creating the voice of the character, what can we expect from you?
JEH: It’s just this organic process of embodying the character, especially when you throw on the clothes and everything and working in the mirror. So you start playing around and trying different things. To me, it’s not so much just sitting at a table, and ‘All right, let me try this voice. Let me try this voice. Let me try this voice.’ It’s kind of a matter of months, where you’re just driving along, and then a voice comes out. And a day later, you try other things. It’s this weird process of almost letting your subconscious do some of the work and see what bubbles up. So you’ve got to give it the time to do that.
Is it all you, or did they…?
JEH: I think it’s still a work in progress right now. I think what we heard today is mostly me with some enhancement on like the front half of it. I think these guys are going to play around with it a bit. My guess is that sometimes it’ll be a little bit closer to me, and sometimes they might pump it up for affect. It’s hard to say. That’s a Sam question.
As dark as the film can be, how much fun did you have on it?
JEH: Quite a bit. It took awhile though, man, because I really needed to acclimate to the makeup. And while I was acclimating to the makeup, there was still this incredible process of finding this guy organically. I think I kind of found him by fusing it. Like using all of this uncomfortableness and this wacky acclimation process to the makeup, and just kind of giving it to Freddy. But it’s a real kick playing such a mythical boogeyman. It was fun, but it was a challenge. There was a lot of arduous work to get to the fun. One of the things that I discovered is, I’ve said this before, but all of these years, I thought Freddy was the one doing the torturing, but really it looks like he was the one being tortured. [Laughs] You know, three and a half hours in the makeup, and then out to the set, Robert goes. So he must have had a heck of a time working on those for all those years.
Kellan Lutz plays one of the characters in the movie. Did you trade any sort of advice to have him play a better vampire?
JEH: No, we never talked about that, but I’m sure thrilled that he’s in the movie. I actually just met him here. I never saw him when we were out there. He’s a really nice guy. He signed a couple of ‘Twilight’ books for my nieces, and so I was a hero there. [Laughs]