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Interview with movie legend Robert Englund
By James Whittington, Monday 20th August 2018 The UK premiere of the paranormal shocker, Nightworld hits Horror on August 27th. The film stars Jason London and the legend that is Robert Englund.
We recently chatted to Robert about this chilling movie as well as a certain jumper wearing, knife finger wielding character you may have heard about.
HC: An actor of your experience must be offered acting roles all the time, how do you choose which ones to accept and what drew you to Nightworld?
RE: I select. A lot. But this one had a nice vibe and it came from a producer (Loris Curci) with whom I'd worked many times before. It's a great script! I started reading it and I just couldn't put it down. It has a Twilight Zone, H.P. Lovecraft spirit. Very gloomy and dark. It's not a violent film, definitely not slasher. It's much more heartbeat and it truly has this H.P. Lovecraft vibe, although it's essentially a ghost story. It's a story about a portal, a gateway to the other side. We find out that there are 7 portals throughout the world that access what my character refers to as the Nightworld, which is sort of a purgatory. Think of it as a kind of waiting room for Heaven or Hell. It's a great, simple concept. Very well written.
HC: Your character, Jacob is blind, how did you prepare for such a role?
RE: My character is called back into duty. I'm blind and perhaps my blindness was an occupational hazard of working for many, many years guarding one of these portals, which happens to be in Sofia, Bulgaria. Jacob is called out of retirement to aid a young police officer who's lost his wife and is drinking a lot and has all sorts of visions, which we'll understand are somehow connected to whatever lies beyond the door. The officer, who is actually a former LA cop, has taken the security job for this corporation and now manages and oversees these various portals. Recently I get offered roles in which get to play some sort of Van Helsing character, like Jacob in Nightworld. I'm getting to play a lot of roles, the old poacher, the old doctor, the old scientists. I don't think, if I hadn't done horror and I hadn't established myself as a horror genre star and stuck with it and been loyal to it, I would still be playing roles, at my age, And this one was particularly intriguing because I had never played a blind man before.
HC: Was this the first time you shot a movie in Bulgaria?
RE: I did a couple of other films in Bulgaria before being offered this role. One is a Lake Placid TV-movie, with a giant alligator. I like going back to Bulgaria. They have great crews, good food. Lots of big movies get shot there.
HC: Jacob is a very enigmatic character, how much of his "look" was created by you?
RE: I brought my own glasses. I wanted to make sure that I would feel comfortable in them. When Loris and the director Patricio Valladares told me about the role, they asked me what I thought he should look like. I said that Jacob should be the kind of guy that doesn't really go out anymore, listens to classical music all day and sips cognac, and I envisioned him as getting excited to be called back into action - putting on his best suit and dress hat and good gloves, then going off to save the day. Also, he wasn't always blind. There's a hint in the film that something happened, at some point. He knows more than a lot of people, that's why the owners called me in. There's a line at the beginning of the film where he says that he knows his way around. It's kind of a throwaway but I think what it means is he was sighted when he worked there, and he's gone blind subsequently. Or that was the reason for his retirement or firing... who knows?
HC: What's your favourite memory from filming Nightworld?
RE: It was just a lot of fun to still do things like this. Patricio, the director, doesn't speak good English but he certainly knows how to detail what he wants. We had our little inside jokes and the overall atmosphere was very relaxing. And then they had this beautiful mansion in the center of Sofia. Very atmospheric, with all sorts of doors and corridors that really led nowhere. I believe the film succeeds in delivering this feeling of melancholy, and dread.
HC: The movie is getting its UK premiere on Horror Channel in August, why do our viewers need to tune in?
RE: Nightworld is a classic terror film from the seventies. Think Rosemary's Baby, The Omen or The Shining. It has a slow pace that keeps growing until hell literally breaks loose. I suggest you sit back in your comfortable sofas, get a beer, and turn off the lights. This one is a creepy, little movie and that eventually delivers what it promises. It's scary.
HC: How has the movie industry changed since you started as an actor?
RE: Well now every film is shot on digital, so everything is much faster on set and as an actor you don't get to spend too much time waiting. But in general, nothing has really changed much. There's still lots of films out there, with great scripts, great writers, and then television is producing the best shows. It's exciting to see how many movies and series actually get made and there is an endless flow of good stuff. Horror fans are the same, they just move from generation to generation, but are as loyal as they always have been.
HC: Its nearly 35 years since you first played a certain jumper wearing, knife finger wielding character, does it really feel that long ago?
RE: I get asked this all the time. Look, recently someone came to me and offered to bring back the original Freddy. I'm too old to do another Freddy now. If I do a fight scene now it's got to be real minimal because I can't snap my head for eight different takes and different angles. My spine gets sore, and I really don't like the idea of spending four hours in the make-up room. I can still be mean and scary, but I'm mostly relegated now to sort of old doctor/Van Helsing roles, or a professor with some sort of secret. Yes, it's been a long time and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Freddy. I will always be in debt with the character. I like to think that the last moment of me ever playing Freddy is a wink to the audience.
HC: How did Freddy change your life?
RE: Well, when I first played Freddy I never thought we'd get to this. I was doing a series back then, called V, and I was doing appearances and conventions for the show, and I had punks coming up to me and asking for Freddy autographs. It came totally unexpected. The idea behind Freddy was that whether you're in an igloo in Alaska, or whether you're surfing in Hawaii, or whether you're in a small village in Africa, tending your livestock, we have the same dreams, the same nightmares. We have the falling dream, we have the drowning dream, the claustrophobic dream - these are all common dreams. And Nightmare on Elm Street became instantly universal because of that. Dreams could kill! I'm onto three generations of fans now. And I have a generation of fans that tell me, from the video generation, that I was actually what they watched and were intimate and shared with their late father, or their late mother, of their girlfriends and wives. Freddy made it through different generations and he is still there, haunting your dreams from a DVD, a Blu-ray or a late-night show on TV. That is what we've managed to achieve. Which is fantastic.
HC: Robert Englund, thank you very much.
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