Robert Barton Englund (born June 6, 1947) is an American actor, voice-actor, singer, and director, best known for playing the fictional serial killer Freddy Krueger, in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. He received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors in 1987 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master in 1988. Englund is a classically trained actor.
Englund was born in Glendale, California on June 6, 1947. He is of part Swedish ancestry. Englund began studying acting at the age of twelve in a children’s theater program at California State University, Northridge. While he was in high school, he attended the Cranbrook Theatre School in Bloomfield Hills. He then attended California State University for three years before transferring to Michigan’s Oakland University, where he trained at the Meadow Brook Theatre, at the time a branch of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Wanting a feature film debut, Englund auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker in the 1977 film Star Wars. After failing to get the part, Englund suggested that a friend, Mark Hamill, try out instead, for which in turn Hamill became famous. Englund’s first film wound up being Eaten Alive (1977). Since then, Englund has made over 100 appearances on film and television.
His early film roles usually typed him as a nerd or a redneck, such as minor roles in the John Milius surf classic, Big Wednesday (1978), Dead & Buried (1981), until he gained attention in the role of Willie, the lovably innocent alien in the 1983 original miniseries V, as well as the 1984 sequel V: The Final Battle, and V: The Series.
He then portrayed the psychotic burn victim and child murderer Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Frederick Charles “Freddy” Krueger is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of A Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Freddy is a disfigured dream stalker who uses a glove armed with razors to kill his victims in their dreams, causing their deaths in the waking world as well. However, whenever he is put into the real world, he has normal human vulnerability. Freddy is a vengeful spirit who attacks his victims from within their dreams. He is commonly identified by his burned, disfigured face, red and dark green striped sweater, brown fedora, and trademark metal-clawed brown leather glove on his right hand. In the 2010 remake, he was portrayed by Academy Award-nominee Jackie Earle Haley.
He appears in seven ‘Nightmare’ movies, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare (1990), and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). Englund also played Freddy in the Freddy Krueger Special (1988) for MTV and Freddy’s Nightmares: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series from October 1988 until March 1990. A spin-off from the ‘Nightmare’ series, it was a horror anthology series with each story was introduced by Freddy Krueger.
In 2003, Freddy battled fellow horror icon Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film series in the theatrical release Freddy vs. Jason, a film which officially resurrected both characters from their respective deaths and subsequently being sent to Hell in their respective ‘last films’. The ending of the film is left ambiguous as to whether or not Freddy is actually dead, for despite being decapitated, he winks at the viewers.
Englund’s association with the horrorgenre led him to top-billed roles in The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Dance Macabre (1992), Tobe Hooper’s Night Terrors (1993), The Mangler (1995), 2001 Maniacs and Dance of the Dead (both 2005). He has also had minor roles in countless horror films such as Galaxy of Terror (1981), The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine (1990), Urban Legend (1998), Hatchet and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (both 2006), Zombie Strippers! (2008) and the Fear Clinic TV series (2009).
His work in voice-over animation includes magician Felix Faust in Justice League, The Riddler in The Batman and The Vulture in The Spectacular Spider-Man, and as Dormammu on The Super Hero Squad Show. Englund also made his directorial début with the 1988 horror film 976-EVIL; his second feature, Killer Pad, was released direct to DVD in 2008.