When you hear the name Freddy Krueger, the first thing that comes to your mind is most likely another name; Robert Englund. One of the things that makes Freddy unique among all the other big horror villains is that he was always played by Englund, in each and every film in the original Elm Street franchise, and even in Freddy's long awaited battle with Jason Voorhees. Well, for the most part, at least...
Though Englund of course played Freddy in 99.9% of the character's appearances in the franchise, there are actually a handful of other actors, stand-ins and stuntmen that helped bring Freddy to life, in various different moments in the films. Tonight, we give those folks some credit where credit is due.
Here are eight OTHER people who portrayed Freddy Krueger, throughout the years!!
Believe it or not, the very first time Freddy Krueger was seen in A Nightmare On Elm Street, he was actually not played by Robert Englund. Elm Street marked Charles Belardinelli's first foray into the world of special effects, and it was Belardinelli who provided the hands for Freddy, seen building the iconic glove at the start of the movie. Since he had previously been a carpenter, and had worked on the creation of the glove, Belardinelli was the one person on set who was most skilled at actually building Freddy's weapon of choice, so his hands were used as doubles for Englund's. The scene was more or less recreated at the beginning of Freddy vs Jason, with Englund himself constructing the glove.
Charles Belardinelli went on to work in the special effects department on films such as Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Jason Goes To Hell & Saw.
**On a very interesting side note, Belardinelli ended up getting married to Christina Rideout, a stunt double for Heather Langenkamp that he met on the set of the film. Yep, a double for Freddy ended up marrying a double for Nancy ... how cool is that?!**
One of the most iconic scenes in the original Elm Street is of course the one where Freddy's glove reaches up between Nancy's legs, after she dozes off in the bathtub. The scene was pulled off with a bottomless tub, which was positioned over a water tank, and it was mechanical effects designer Jim Doyle who had the enviable honor of taking a bath with Heather Langenkamp, and donning the razor glove for the scene.
The above behind the scenes photo of Doyle comes courtesy of the documentary Never Sleep Again, which any fan of the franchise would be committing a downright sin by not owning.
Another incredibly iconic scene in the original film is when Freddy emerges from Nancy's bedroom wall, while she's asleep in her bed. This moment was again brought to life by Jim Doyle, wearing the Freddy Krueger stunt mask. The effect was achieved by Doyle pressing into a sheet of spandex, which was stretched over a cut-out in the wall!
Other films that Doyle worked on include The Stuff, Prom Night 2 & Friday The 13th : The New Blood.
For the scene where Nancy sets Freddy on fire, at the end of Elm Street, it was stuntman Anthony Cecere who was brought in to play the flaming Krueger. The incredibly impressive and lengthy stunt was pulled off in one take by Cecere, a veteran in the stunt game who frequently worked on Wes Craven's films (in fact, he played Ghostface in Scream 1 & 2!). On Cecere's resume as a stuntman are a whole host of horror films, including The Thing, Child's Play, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Cecere even served as second unit director on Swamp Thing and The Hills Have Eyes Part 2!
In Dream Child, comic book geek Mark meets his demise not at the hands of Freddy Krueger, but rather at those of the superhero that's faster than a bastard maniac; SUPER FREDDY. After Mark discovers his dream power and turns into the badass comic book hero The Phantom Prowler, gunning down Freddy, Freddy takes the form of a black & white 'Super Freddy', and Robert Englund was swapped out for the much larger actor Michael Bailey Smith, making his film debut. Interesting to note, Bailey Smith also appeared earlier in the film, body doubling for Dan during the sex scene at the start!
Michael Bailey Smith is most known to horror fans for playing Pluto in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
Noble Craig has perhaps the most interesting and awesome IMDb resume of all time, a career in film spawned by a real life tragedy. While in Vietnam, Craig stepped on a buried American artillery shell, which blew off both of his legs, and one of his arms. His acting career began in 1973, when he played the half-man/half-snake creature, in Sssssss. He also played 'Vomit Creature' in Poltergeist 2, 'Sewer Monster' in Big Trouble In Little China, 'Puddle Soldier' in The Blob (1988) and 'Crypt Creature' in Bride of Re-Animator.
Craig's only other credit? 'Merging Freddy' in Dream Child, seen when Freddy bursts out of Alice's body, towards the end of the film. Craig's legless torso was strapped to Lisa Wilcox' body, with the rest of his body held up by wires, in order to pull the bizarre sequence off.
One of the more interesting aspects of Freddy's Dead was the decision to delve more into Freddy's back story than any of the previous films had. In the film, we see Freddy as a young boy and also as a teenager. Chason Shirmer played Freddy as an animal killing child, which to this day is his only acting credit. According to his IMDb page, he is now married, and works for a water company.
As for teenage Freddy, who we see kill his alcoholic step-father (Alice Cooper), that role was played by Tobe Sexton, who nowadays spends the majority of his time producing independent films. He's even credited as a carpenter on 1995's TV movie, Here Come The Munsters!
Though not a part of the Elm Street franchise, I wouldn't feel right not ending this with a shout out to Kane Hodder, who portrayed the gloved hand of Freddy, which pulled Jason's mask into the ground at the end of Jason Goes To Hell. An awesome end cap to a lackluster film, which didn't receive a proper payoff until 10 years later, with Freddy vs Jason!
If anyone knows the name of anyone else who played Freddy Krueger, at any point in time in the original franchise, leave me a comment below and let know, so I can add them to the list!