Why Working With Nightmare On Elm Street's Robert Englund For Stranger Things Season 4 Was An 'Incredible' Experience For The Prosthetics Team

Robert Englund as Victor Creel in Stranger Things Season 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Vol. 1 of Stranger Things Season 4 on Netflix.

The long-awaited fourth season of Stranger Things has finally arrived on Netflix, with a new set of challenges for the characters spread all over the world and a terrifying new villain. In true Stranger Things style, however, Vecna wasn’t the only element of the season that could send chills down the spine, thanks to none other than horror icon Robert Englund of the Nightmare on Elm Street series playing the cursed Victor Creel. Prosthetics makeup artist Barrie Gower spoke with CinemaBlend about his experience on Stranger Things Season 4, including why working with Englund was “incredible.”

The Netflix show often includes elements from iconic films from the 1980s, and Vecna’s ability to reach into the minds of his victims to torment and eventually kill them delivered a level of horror worthy of Freddy Krueger. Add in Robert Englund playing Victor Creel – the man who gouged out his own eyes after being psychically tormented and then wrongfully imprisoned for murdering his family – and horror fans had a lot to enjoy. According to prosthetics makeup artist Barrie Gower, working with Englund to perfect the look of the gouged-out eyes was a great experience for the makeup team… and a surprise. Gower shared:

As monster geeks and huge nerds growing up, [fans] of big horror franchises – obviously Stranger Things 4 has a lot of traits and nods to the Nightmare on Elm Street series – I was a massive Freddy Krueger fan growing up. I had a shrine on my bedroom wall covered in Freddy Krueger posters in the '80s. We didn't realize we were going to get to work with Robert Englund on the show until after we were already well into the midst of creating Vecna, and then they approached us about doing Victor Creel's makeup. And we didn't know it was Robert. So we were very excited about the character, and then we heard it was Robert, so we were like kids in a candy store. We couldn't believe that we were gonna get to work with one of our heroes from the '80s, being huge Freddy Krueger fans.

What better surprise for a longtime Nightmare on Elm Street fan than to learn that working on Netflix’s biggest horror series would involve Robert Englund himself? Victor Creel may not have looked exactly like Freddy Krueger, but the actor definitely delivered some creepy moments combined with the prosthetics that completely sold what the character had done to himself. Creel didn’t require the full-body prosthetics that Vecna did (and you can read all about the big Vecna reveals here), and it’s safe to say that fans won’t be forgetting his face any time soon. Barrie Gower continued:

My colleague Duncan Jarman sculpted Victor Creel's prosthetics appliances, and Duncan and I applied Robert's makeup for the show as well. So we got to do a makeup test in London and start off with that, and it was just prior to lockdown when COVID was first kicking in. Then we shot for a couple of days in Atlanta with Robert as well. It was just a joy to work with him because his application was about two hours in the makeup chair, and he just fed us with so many anecdotes and brilliant stories from his career. We were overwhelmingly happy. It was incredible, just to be privy to a lot of his stories.

According to the artist, hours in the makeup chair are “incredible” when involving Robert Englund sharing stories about his career. Few actors can come into a project with as much horror background as Englund brings thanks to Nightmare on Elm Street, and it’s only fitting that he was able to deliver an unforgettable performance while wearing two hours-worth of prosthetics for a chilling finished product in Season 4. When I noted that Englund must be an expert at prosthetics application in the makeup chair by this point, Gower enthusiastically shared:

He's a seasoned pro. I can't think of another actor that's probably had more prosthetics glued on him. So he knew all our materials. He knew exactly what we were doing. He knew when to close his eyes and knew when to turn his head. He was a real pro. So it was an incredible opportunity for us… He was just recounting loads of Freddy stories and talking about lots of other makeup effects heroes that we've grown up to admire as well. So it was such a great experience. It really was.

After playing Freddy Krueger no fewer than five times in the 1980s alone – and no shortage of times in the years since – there can be no doubt that Robert Englund had plenty of Nightmare on Elm Street stories to tell. Even though Victor Creel wasn’t the character with Freddy-esque methods of killing in Stranger Things, he was a perfect addition to the cast. 

You can find Robert Englund’s performance as Victor Creel with the makeup prosthetics from Barrie Gower and his team in the record-breaking Volume 1 of Stranger Things Season 4, available streaming with a Netflix subscription now. For the Nightmare on Elm Street series, you can find several of the films both on Netflix and with an HBO Max subscription

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).