OWF Interview: Jackie Earle Haley on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET!

Since making an astounding comeback in 2006 after 13 years in the Hollywood wilderness, Jackie Earle Haley has undertook an unparalleled wealth of deep, distinct, dynamic roles under the direction of the very best in the business, from Scorsese to Snyder. Since getting an out of the blue phone call from Steven Zallian and successfully auditioning for the role of Sugar Boy in his movie 'All The Kings Men', Haley has earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a pedophile in 'Little Children', satisfied a generation of graphic novel admirers with his performance as Rorschach in 'Watchmen' and most recently took on the guise of one of the most iconic and recognisable characters of the slasher genre; I am of course referring to Freddy Krueger, whom he played in the recent remake of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'. Freddy Krueger is such an iconic character and the Elm Street series so beloved and revered with a militant fan base. I wanted to know what attracted him to the role and how aware he was of the franchise and the intense interest there was in it.
€œFreddy Krueger is one of the most iconic, recognisable characters in film. And when I was offered the role it was just too good of an opportunity to turn down. I remember seeing the trailer for it when I was younger and it got me to the movie theatre and I really enjoyed the film. Mainly because of the super natural elements; the idea that you could be killed in your sleep really hit a nerve with me and obviously with a lot of other people too, because, yeah, I know how beloved those movies are.€
Our discussion took a slight diversion into other horror movies of the period; Haley expressed his admiration for Sam Raimi€™s 'Evil Dead' and Ridley Scott€™s 'Alien'. Haley was genuinely surprised to learn that Scott was revisiting 'Alien' for the upcoming remake.
€œI had no knowledge of that, but I€™m very excited and I shall look into that tomorrow€.
I was sure to direct him to OWF and the many news articles we have had covering the buzz and the rumours and also suggested he contact Mr. Scott about a role. For some reason he just seems like the perfect actor for the 'Alien' franchise. I speedily get back onto 'Nightmare on Elm Street', very aware that I am on the clock; I asked if he felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders stepping into the shoes or rather slipping on the stripy sweater and razor glove of Robert Englund.
€œOf course, Robert was Freddy for so long and will always be associated with that character because he played him so well. But this was a new series and the producers felt they needed someone new and I thought I could give it a decent stab€.
Whether he meant to use €˜stab€™ as a pun €“ and I don€™t doubt that he did - he made me laugh. As to what Robert thought about his portrayal is still unclear, as the two have not yet. But Haley would certainly relish a meeting:
€œI would love to know what he thinks and we should definitely get together for a dinner in the future to discuss our takes on the characters. That would be fun.€
The character of Freddy is a very dark and twisted one and this film more than any of the others attempts to explore his past, that being before he was murdered by the people of Elm Street for sexually abusing their children. What kind of preparation and research can one do, or does one dare to do?
€œThe producer, Brad Fuller, got me this book on serial killers and I read it and was fascinated with this one guy called Ed Kemper. I started researching him and getting psychological profiles on him and then I realised I was taking the wrong approach to this. Freddy Krueger is this larger than life, exaggerated boogieman that operates in this supernatural, slasher world. This wasn€™t a character profile on him, this was a genre film; once I realised that the way I played the character was clear to me.€
As for a sequel, he did not have any juicy gossip for me to now dispense with, but did inform me that he was signed on for two more instalments. If and when they will come about he did not know. While this franchise is concerned with nightmare, Haley€™s life has been anything but a nightmare since returning to the limelight, which he had basked in as a budding child star in the 1970€™s. I asked him whether he felt that this experience had made him a stronger, more rounded person, which had in turn given him life experience that he can now bring to his acting€.
€œMost definitely. It is really true. I learned so much in those years that if my childhood stardom had continued to shine I would have missed out on. In those years I got to delve in a whole number of different careers from directing videos, learning about lighting and sound and I learned how to be a grip. And I also did a lot of things away from film like delivering pizzas and driving limos. Plus I got into the corporate side of film. So, I take all those experiences and all those times I found it tough and I do draw off them now€.
When I questioned whether he felt certain young Hollywood stars and starlets would benefit from a few years of €˜life experience€™ away from the spotlight, he answered in a manner befitting his attitude with great humility and above all an appreciating of life and reality.
€œI can look back now that everything is great and grand and say yeah those experiences were good for me, but I know not everyone is as lucky to get a second wind, so I can€™t really say yes€.
I did wish to enquire about the feasibility of a 'Bad News Bears' sequel of sorts, with he and Tatum O€™Neil reprising their roles and rekindling their romance to teach yet another bunch of reprobates how to play the dying American pastime of baseball, but sadly my time was up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9xKuH1M9I I can say that without a doubt Mr. Haley has been by far one of the most warm, welcoming and fascinating people that I have interviewed. He is a humble, happy human being, who still seems to be revelling in the €œelation and joy€ that he felt when receiving the Oscar nomination that confirmed his skill at the craft he feels privileged and proud to call his own.
€œActing is the most wonderful profession I know and I love nothing more than getting to do it for a living€.
Long may he continue to enjoy his profession and grace our screens with dynamic characters that utilise his talent. 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' is released on Blu-ray this Monday.
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Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!