April 9, 2009 / 2:12 AM / 10 years ago

"Nightmare" remake finds its new Freddy Krueger

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jackie Earle Haley, who won acclaim with his portrayal of the misanthropic Rorschach in the recent “Watchmen” movie, is the new Freddy Krueger.

Jackie Earle Haley poses at the party following the premiere of the movie "Watchmen" in Hollywood, California March 2, 2009. The movie opens in the U.S. March 6. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The actor will star as the iconic screen villain in New Line Cinema’s redo of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” taking over the role that was played by Robert Englund.

The original “Nightmare,” released in 1984, helped establish New Line and spawned a slew of movies. Krueger is a serial child killer murdered by angry parents who returns to terrorize teens in their dreams.

Krueger’s burned face, his razor glove and his red-and-green sweater became instantly recognizable images as well as popular Halloween costumes.

Samuel Bayer, who directed the Nirvana video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is shooting the relaunch. Filming starts May 5 in Chicago.

“Looking at his performance in ‘Watchmen,’ here’s a guy playing a character under a mask yet you feel tremendous empathy for him,” said Bayer of the actor.

“And in Nightmare,’ he is going to be under prosthetic make-up. You have to feel something for the character. The greatest villains are multi-dimensional and I think he will bring that to the character.”

The role would cap a whirlwind couple of years for Haley, who made a splash in the 1970s as a child star in movies like “The Bad News Bears” then faded in the early 1990s. He left the business, and wound up working odd jobs in Texas.

Haley burst back on the scene in 2006 playing a pedophile in Todd Field’s “Little Children,” and also appeared in “Semi-Pro” with Will Ferrell. He next appears in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.”

Bayer, who called this take of Krueger “Nosferatu meets Ed Gaines,” was not concerned that Haley risked being typecast in the way Englund was. “It’s what you bring to the material. He’s a well-rounded actor who will not be stereotyped by this. If anything, he’ll be celebrated for it.”

Edited by Dean Goodman at Reuters

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