So that’s what the new Freddy Krueger looks like.
Fans at Saturday (April 3) afternoon’s WonderCon panel for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” got the most extended look to date at Jackie Earle Haley’s version of the beloved nocturnal Boogieman.
The panel wasn’t accompanied by a wealth of new clips and “Nightmare” director Samuel Bayer was unexpectedly detained, but at least the audience got to watch one full-length scene and witness one of Freddy’s attempted kills.
[What did we see and how did it look? And what did stars like Haley and Thomas Dekker have to say about their remake? Click through… But I’ll warn you that there’s at least one spoiler…]
Before going into the scene we saw, I have to remind you that most of the characters in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” are going to die. So if I tell you which character is featured in the scene we saw, that only spoils that somebody you figured was going to die anyway, probably dies… But we didn’t see that character actually formally die, so who knows? That’s as convoluted a repeated spoiler warning as I can give you.
The scene in question is teased in the most recent trailer and features Kellan Lutz’s Dean mainlining coffee to continue a three-day streak of sleepless nights. Unfortunately, as seems to be one of the themes of this “Nightmare,” sometimes even a micro-nap is enough time for Freddy to pounce. But what’s a dream and what’s reality?
As Lutz’s character says hopefully, “You’re not real!”
And Haley’s Freddy replies, “I am now.”
The scene featured ample atmosphere and, in terms of simple composition and cinematography, looks beautiful. But it was more about the environment pregnant with tension than any actual scares or violence, more about anticipation than terror. And for at least two or three seconds, we stared at Freddy in nearly full light. I already described my first interactions with Haley in full makeup in this “Nightmare on Elm Street” set visit story, but it was impressive to see the added gruesome grace notes contributed by CGI.
The sizzle reel that followed the clip also included a tiny bit more footage than previously released in trailers and added to my interest. Thus far, Warner Brothers has done a good job of withholding the dream landscapes everybody was so excited about when we were on-set and I’m getting the feeling I’ll probably have to pony up $14 bucks to see that in the theater on opening day.
As one might expect, Haley was the star of the Q&A, probably do to the love Con fans have for his work as Moocher in “Breaking Away” or possibly Kelly Leak in the “The Bad News Bears.” Oh, I kid. These crowds are all about Rorschach in “Watchmen” and Haley is perfectly fine with that.
“I guess some of you must think I’m a little creepy or something,” said Haley, making light of the fan campaigns to land him the Freddy role even before he was cast.
As he’s done from the very beginning, Haley was careful to emphasize the contributions of Robert Englund and Wes Craven in creating this franchise and this character.
“It’s a scary process in and of itself,” he said. “It’s tough to take on a character that one guy has played and Robert Englund has done an incredible job. The man, with Wes, created an incredible character.”
But Haley has also said from the beginning that this isn’t going to be a slavish homage to Englund’s Freddy.
“I felt that it was important for me to try to find a way to play this character where there was still something familiar about him, because there are so many fans — obviously the hat, the glove and the sweater — but also to do it in such way where I was still able to make it my own.”
But, having already talked to Haley several times about the role and the movie, I was more interested to hear from some of the younger co-stars.
The lead in the new film, this generation’s Nancy, is played by Rooney Mara, who stuck to the same-but-different party line.
“”I think everyone’s really familiar with Nancy and her character,” Mara said. “Our version is a little bit different from the original. I hope you guys like it. Our Nancy’s slightly darker than the original Nancy. She’s sort of a tortured, lonely soul just trying to figure out what’s happening to her.”
The most intelligent perspective on remakes and reboots came from “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” star Dekker.
“I think remakes and reboots are very tricky subjects and they’re very hard, because you want to please people who love the original, but you want to give birth to something that more people can love and they’re always going to be in opposition,” Dekker said. “Whenever the script is written well and you have great actors, and all these people are incredible, I feel very confident in telling all of you, and I imagine you’re here because you love this franchise, that I do believe you won’t be disappointed. That’s my opinion. I’m kinda adverse to remakes, but when this one is great and I did a TV show that was a remake that I thought was great. I think we have a great product and I think all that any of us cared about, that I cared about, was keeping the faith of all of you.”
Since he’s the guy in the poster, I’ll give Haley the last word.
“‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ is part of our culture. It’s a sick part of our culture, but a fun part, none the less,” Haley said. “Just like the campfire story, that’s what started all of this a hundred-and-some years ago, but ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ was a special one of that ilk and I think Freddy Krueger is a special character and I’m really excited to get to reintroduce this one to existing fans and also to a whole new generation.”
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” opens on Friday, April 30, 2010.