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SDCC Press Conference: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Haley, Bayer, Fuller & Form

The dream stalker invades Comic-Con! It was a big year at the annual San Diego expo for A Nightmare on Elm Street and iconic horror legend Freddy Krueger. He’s got a new film. A facelift. And a new man beneath the makeup.

New Line rolled out a number of surprises at the show, including a slick teaser poster, that wonderfully captures the essence of the character, a photo and a teaser trailer – which will not be placed online, but you can read about it here. After the studio’s presentation in Hall H, star Jackie Earle Haley, director Samuel Bayer and producers Andrew Forma and Brad Fuller joined the press to talk about the Platinum Dunes reboot.

Question: What was it like to don the sweater and hat?

Jackie Earle Haley: It felt warm and shady. Thank you. [laughs] It was incredibly motivating. Just throwing on the iconic outfit was surreal. Standing there for the first time wearing that get-up.

Andrew Form: It was surreal for me to see you come out in it.

Haley: It was a trip. Then you add the makeup on top of the wardrobe. It was surreal.

Question: Whey was it important to keep the sweater and hat?

Haley: It’s like any kind of iconic figure. There are certain symbols that make them who they are. I couldn’t imagine making this movie without the sweater, the hat and the glove.

Question: Why was there a strong desire to revisit this franchise?

Form: I think, for us, the concept of this movie was one of the strongest we had ever heard. You fall asleep, you die. For Brad [Fuller] and I, it scared the heck out of us when we were kids. It was a movie we pursued for a long time. Just being able to tackle that movie, like we had done with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, Nightmare was a movie we always talked about and New Line gave us the opportunity. The concept of the film is brilliant. You got to stay awake. And if you fall asleep there’s a guy who will kill you in your dreams.

Question: Jackie, can you talk about the daunting task of filling Freddy’s shoes?

Haley: It’s definitely a scary process trying to step into the shoes of Robert Englund who has owned this character for decades. He’s done a brilliant job with it. His embodiment and his performance is what makes Freddy who he is. The challenge now is going back in time and paying homage to the first movie and rebooting it. It was important to get these qualities that you’re familiar with. The sweater, the hat and the glove – things we know – but also trying to find a freshness and new-ness to this re-envisioning. I think the makeup that Andrew Clement designed is incredible. I think where Sam [Bayer] and I are coming from is darker. More serious. Less jokey. Hopefully scarier and more intense.

Question: Is there no room for dark humor?

Haley: I think there is some of that in there, but that’s a better question for Sam.

Sam Bayer: It’s open to interpretation. What you find funny, someone else might not find funny. There is a macabre quality to the character anyways but if you’re looking for just an imitation of what the other actor did in the other movies, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a laugh, I don’t think this is a funny movie. I personally don’t think if a character is wisecracking and killing you at the same time, it’s very funny. I find I’m taking this seriously. I’ve said this many times, I really do look at a movie like The Dark Knight as an inspiration for this. I don’t think people dress up and fly through the sky and have cars and dress up as bats, but Christopher Nolan made me believe it. I’d like people to believe this could almost be real.

Question: Is Freddy a child molester or a child murderer in this film?

Bayer: You’re going to have to see the movie. There are some plot things I don’t want to give away.

Question: Do you handle violence any different than how it’s been handled in the past films? How graphic do you go?

Bayer: I think the scariest stuff is when you believe in your characters. So I think we put a lot of emphasis on developing our characters, our kids. What Jackie did with Freddy is multi-dimensional. But, there’s a lot of scares in our movie and when blood happens it’s bloody. I’m not the type of person who depends on blood and gore to scare you. It’s the dreams that scare you.

Question: Can you talk about the dreams and how imaginative you go?

Bayer: I think our dreams are pretty imaginative. To be perfectly honest, I think it’s one of the things that dates the original series. I look back and sometimes the films look like they were made in 1988 or whenever they made. When they go into dream world it’s cloudy and smoky, fog machines. We did a much more sophisticated, 21st century take on the dream sequences. They’re an integral part of the movie. It’s what separates this from just a maniac running around with a hatchet. Not only the characters, but the dreams are very thought out and intricate and sometimes beautiful. They’re not just scary places, they’re actually beautiful to look at.

Question: How big of a character is Nancy in this film?

Brad Fuller: Nancy plays an important role. She’s there all the way through. In some ways she’s the heart and soul, but the movie isn’t an ensemble. At the end of the day, two of the characters really are who the focus of the story is for a good portion of the film.

Question: Are you setting this up for a franchise?

Fuller: Well, we never know. We set out to make the best movie we can.

Question: Jackie, did any of your own sleep patterns or dreams influence how you played your character?

Haley: I don’t know if it figured into the process but I do recall this crazy recurring dream when I was a teenager. Maybe it started younger and I was literally in the bed I was sleeping in and it seems like I’m awake. And this big tarantula-y, six-foot tall bug thing chases me down the hall and whacks me. I could not stop dreaming this thing. It was very unsettling and scary. Very bizarre. Of course, then there’s the wonderful nightmare of being onstage and the curtain opens and you haven’t even looked at the script yet. That’s a fun dream.

Question: Have you talked to Robert Englund at all about Freddy?

Haley: No, I haven’t. We were going to hook up at some point, but we couldn’t be in the same city at the same time. We were going to have a dinner. My manager and my agent, for my birthday, had gotten me an original Nightmare on Elm Street poster so I’m going to hunt down Robert and get him to sign it for me. I want to hang it in my office. That’d be really cool.

Question: What was it like to try on the glove?

Haley: It was pretty cool. It was cool and weird and surreal. The first one I put on didn’t fit at all. It was this process making fit my hand. But a lot of times there wouldn’t be set up time between shots or whatever so I just had this thing on me for an hour. I was a little worries about poking my eye our or scratching my makeup. Luckily we never had that. I was also a little concerned about falling on the thing. Luckily that never happened.

Bayer: Nothing is actually scarier than seeing Jackie with his contact lenses in, covered in makeup, with basically a deadly weapon. It’s got really sharp blades that can really hurt you.

Question: What can we expect from Freddy’s voice?

Haley: It’s this organic process of embodying the character, especially throwing on the clothes and looking in the mirror. You start playing around and trying different things. It’s not sitting around the table and going, ‘Let me try this voice and this voice.’ It’s a matter of months where you’re just driving along and this voice comes out. A day later and it’s something else. It’s this process of letting the subconscious do the work and seeing what bubbles up. I think the voice is still a work in progress. What’s in the trailer is me with some enhancement at the front half of it. These guys are going to play around with it a bit. Sometimes it’s going to be a little bit closer to me and they might pump it up for effect.

Bayer: I think it’s been an ongoing process that Jackie went through deep on set. Finding the character’s voice and I think he will definitely be a part of our mixing sessions on the back end which will have a supernatural quality to it. An unearthly quality. It’s not going to be Rorschach [from Watchmen].

Question: How is CGI going to factor into the film?

Bayer: I’m a very old school filmmaker. There’s not a lot of CGI in this film, we do a lot of stuff practically. But Jackie got to pre-viz one sequence, an idea of what we’re going to do that I think, when you see it, are going to be pretty blown away by it. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve. A lot of stuff is very photographic, hopefully it’ll be seamless enough that you’re not going to say, ‘Oh, that’s a special effect.’ That’s what we’re really going for.

Question: As dark as the movie is, how much fun did you have with the film, Jackie?

Haley: Quite a bit. It took a while though because I really need to acclimate to the makeup. And while I was doing that there was still this incredible process of finding this guy organically. I think I found him by fusing the uncomfortable feeling and whacky acclimation process to the makeup. It’s a real kick playing such a mythical bogeyman. But it was a challenge. There was a lot of arduous work to get to the fun. One of the things I’ve discovered is all of these years I thought Freddy was the one doing the torturing, but it really looks like he was the one being tortured. 3 1/2 hours in the makeup chair and out to set Robert goes. He must have had a heck of a time doing those films for all of those years.

You can read our set visit preview here and expect a full report closer to A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s April 30, 2010 release.


Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor