At a time when ‘80s slasher movies began to wear thin on originality, writer and director Wes Craven gave the genre a refreshingly unique and bizarrely grim jump start with A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. The scary supernatural story of a young woman (Heather Langenkamp) and other teenagers targeted by Freddy Krueger (a grotesque, undead serial murderer with the ability to kill his victims from within their dreams, played by Robert Englund) not only launched one of the most iconic (and increasingly cartoonish) horror movie franchises of all time, but also launched the careers of a few celebrated actors - most notably, Johnny Depp in his film debut.
We will talk about his current whereabouts, as well as the current whereabouts of the rest of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street cast, in the following breakdown - starting with one of cinema’s most menacing boogeymen.
Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger)
While he was no stranger to horror and relatively well-known as friendly alien Willie on V, Robert Englund became one of the top horror movie actors in history from playing Freddy Krueger in all A Nightmare on Elm Street movies but the 2010 remake. He has even reprised the role outside of the main franchise (the anthology series Freddy’s Nightmares, The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror IX,” 2011’s Mortal Kombat video game, and The Goldbergs Season 6, most recently) in addition to many other characters of a sinister nature. At 74, Englund’s Scream King reign is far from over, having been added to the Stranger Things Season 4 cast and appearing in upcoming horror movies like the puppeteered Abruptio and Harvest Moon.
Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson)
Playing the hero of the first A Nightmare Elm Street (as well as the third installment and 1994’s meta New Nightmare as herself) also earned Heather Langenkamp a one-way ticket to horror royalty - further maintained by director Wes Craven’s Shocker in 1989, an uncredited appearance on American Horror Story, and a voice role on Adult Swim’s J.J. Villard’s Fairy Tale (which Robert Englund has also appeared on).
Of course, the now 57-year-old’s resume is not drowning in horror, having also starred on ABC sitcom Just the Ten of Us, played Nancy Kerrigan in a 1994 TV movie about the story that inspired 2017’s I, Tonya, and made a makeup-heavy cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness as Moto. The celebrated Scream Queen’s newest “scream” will come in the form of a starring role on The Midnight Club - the latest of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix original miniseries.
Johnny Depp (Glen Lantz)
If you ask me, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s most memorable kill goes to Glen Lantz, played by Johnny Depp in his first acting gig before 21 Jump Street made him a heartthrob, and 1990’s Edward Scissorhands made him a reoccurring face in most Tim Burton movies and got people to notice his transformative talent. Probably the most famous example of this is his performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow in Disney’s five Pirates of the Caribbean movies (so far) - the first of which earned him his first Academy Award nomination, before Finding Neverland in 2005 and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (in which he played the killer this time).
When not dealing with the controversies surrounding his personal life, the now 58-year-old continues to appear in film and TV, most recently the 2020 biographical drama, Minimata, and the animated series Puffins.
Ronee Blakley (Margo Thompson)
A fellow Academy Award nominee from the A Nightmare on Elm Street cast (for Robert Altman’s Nashville) is Ronee Blakley, who actually made her horror debut in a 1977 anthology horror movie, Three Dangerous Ladies, before playing Nancy Thompson’s mother, Margo. Her career would slow down just a bit after starring in Wes Craven’s classic, but not without getting in a few more spooky credits - namely an episode of Tales from the Darkside (one of the more underrated anthology horror TV shows), and 1987’s Return to Salem’s Lot - a sequel to the acclaimed Stephen King-inspired miniseries.
The actress, producer, filmmaker, and musician most recently appeared on the Netflix original music documentary Rolling Thunder Revue - director Martin Scorsese’s semi-fictionalized account of Bob Dylan’s titular, 1975 concert tour.
Amanda Wyss (Tina Gray)
A close qualifier for second place of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s most memorable kills (in my opinion) goes to Tina Gray, played by Amanda Wyss in a role that mirrors Janet Leigh in Psycho as the first major death, despite being the bigger name at the time after appearing in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982. After her grisly slashing courtesy of Freddy, she changed things up by appearing in the western, Silverado, with Kevin Costner and the dark John Cusack comedy, Better Off Dead, in 1985, revisited horror with the 1988 vampire story To Die For and its sequel, tried out fantasy with a recurring role on the Highlander TV series, and later reunited with Heather Langenkamp for the the romantic drama Getting the Kinks Out in 2019.
Horror has essentially become Wyss’ go-to in recent years (i.e. the 2020 werewolf flick Hunter’s Moon), but she also has a drama about country music called Catch a Falling Star currently in the works.
Jsu Garcia (Rod Lane)
Playing Tina’s grieving boyfriend, Rod (who becomes falsely accused of her murder), is Jsu Garcia, who was credited as Nick Corri when he made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, before appearing opposite Woody Harrelson and Goldie Hawn in the 1986 sports comedy Wildcats. The actor would work with Wes Craven again on New Nightmare (appearing as himself) and the Eddie Murphy-led entry into horror-comedy movies, Vampire in Brooklyn, before eventually breaking into serious dramas, like the Oscar-winning Traffic or the Vietnam War film We Were Soldiers.
In addition to acting (with his most recently released credit being a 2017’s This Is Christmas), Garcia is also a committed ordained minister of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, which may be reflected in his upcoming films Dante’s Hell and Miracle Underground.
Charles Fleischer (Dr. King)
In response to Nancy’s “trouble” sleeping, Margo takes her to see Dr. King - played by Charles Fleischer, who might be one of the lesser easily recognizable names from A Nightmare on Elm Street, especially among modern audiences. However, he makes up for it with an extremely impressive career that includes voicing the title role of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (the first of many collaborations with director Robert Zemeckis), playing a creepy murder suspect from 2007’s Zodiac, and appearing as himself in Funny People in 2009.
Now 71, the comedian’s last acting credit was the 2020 comedy Reality Queen!, which followed a recurring role on Starz’s Blunt Talk, and episodes of Hulu’s horror anthology series Dimension 404, and the 2019 holiday horror movie Hanukkah.
Lin Shaye (Teacher)
Even the biggest fans of A Nightmare on Elm Street might not immediately recognize Lin Shaye as Nancy’s unnamed teacher, which was prior to her more memorable roles in the Critters movies and in There’s Something About Mary as Cameron Diaz’s mother. Of course, the younger sister of New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye would eventually become one of the most familiar faces in modern horror after starring in 2011’s Insidious as the clairvoyant Elise Rainier, whom she is set to reprise in star and director Patrick Wilson’s upcoming fifth installment.
However, (outside of 2021’s Jackson’s Hole) many of the 78-year-old Scream Queen’s next projects are a diversion from horror, like writer and director Sean Patrick Flanery’s crime drama, Frank and Penelope, and the Covid-19-inspired drama We are Gathered Here Today.
Joseph Whipp (Sgt. Parker)
The role of Sgt. Parker could be considered a career-defining moment for A Nightmare on Elm Street cast member Joseph Whipp, as he would go on to play several more cops and star in several more horror movies - such as with Wes Craven’s original Scream cast, in which he played Sheriff Burke in 1996. His other claim to fame is soap operas, including 27 episodes as a few different characters on Days of Our Lives and two episodes of The Young and the Restless in 2020 being his most recent acting credits.
Otherwise, Whipp is notably featured in movies like the Clint Eastwood thriller Escape from Alcatraz from 1978, and 1997’s Suicide Kings, as well as TV shows like Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire and Criminal Minds.
John Saxon (Lt. Thompson)
Also known for playing cops in many horror movies (most famously as Nancy’s father, Lt. Ken Fuller, in the original Black Christmas, or FBI Agent Stanley Chase in From Dusk Till Dawn, to name a few) is John Saxon, whose horror iconography also predates A Nightmare on Elm Street with more credits that I can list here altogether (such as Mario Bava’s The Evil Eye in 1963 or an episode of the Rod Serling-hosted Night Gallery).
Of course, he is also know for action films like 1973’s Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee, western TV shows like Bonanza, comedies like Old Dogs in 2009, or 2017’s The Extra, which would turn out to be his final acting credit. On July 25, 2020, Saxon passed away at the age of 83 due to pneumonia.
Although not all of them are around anymore, the A Nightmare on Elm Street cast is still celebrated today for being one of the best ensembles you could dream of, and key as to why the film is remembered as one of the best horror movies ever made.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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