Robert Englund Reflects on Freddy Krueger Becoming a Real-Life Horror Legend

Robert Englund debuted as Freddy Krueger in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street back in 1984, a role he went on to reprise in multiple sequels, a TV series, and for a number of public appearances. In his new TV series on the Travel Channel, True Terror with Robert Englund, the performer dives deep into a number of bizarre events throughout history that rival the horrifying events depicted in his films. The line between fact and fiction has been so blurred in pop culture that rumors previously circled the internet claiming that Englund's character was based on a real-life serial killer. Ahead of the debut of True Terror on the Travel Channel on March 18th, Englund discussed his on-screen persona permeating the world of urban legends.

"Freddy’s an amalgamation of [filmmaker] Wes Craven’s experiences," Englund recently shared with ComicBook.com. "I think that there was a bully in his school named Fred Krueger. And I think when Wes chose the name for his bogeyman, he liked a Germanic aspect. Frederick Krueger, very tectonic. And I think that part of that is that Fred — that there’s always been a bit of — a dark side of the Grimm’s fairy tale to the fable of Freddy Krueger, the 'Nightmare on Elm Street.'"

He continued, "The other part is that there was a point in time when Johnny Carson was doing Freddy Krueger jokes and Freddy Krueger was on the cover of MAD Magazine and Freddy Krueger was in the Sunday funnies, in some of the more bizarre strips. And he was the subject of just about hundreds of rap lyrics in the '90s and the early 2000s. He becomes ... Wes doesn’t own him anymore, and I don’t own him anymore, and New Line Cinema no longer owns him anymore. He’s just part of the American vernacular. I think that’s where it gets confusing for some people, especially a younger generation comes along, and they see an old DVD lying around or they watch it on a Halloween marathon. And they think that maybe it was based on something true like Ted Bundy, a true serial killer story."

A Nightmare on Elm Street marked a major shift for the slasher world, as it focused on a killer who would wreak havoc in his victim's dreams and cause real-world injuries, as opposed to merely being a deadly individual. Craven had previously admitted that the concept was inspired by reality, as he had read a story about a boy who had nightmares after escaping the Cambodian Killing Fields and would go days on end without sleeping out of fear of those nightmares. The boy ultimately died in his sleep, inspiring the idea of a dream having the power to kill someone.

Englund noted that the concept of "Elm Street" was meant to represent the universality of the concept.

"The whole concept of Nightmare on Elm Street is very symbolic," the actor pointed out. "I think basically it’s loss of innocence in America. The one clue that nobody ever picks up on, Freddy has the line, 'Every town has an Elm Street.' Well, every town also has a Broadway and a Main Street and an Oak Street. But, Elm Street’s also the street that JFK was assassinated on in Dallas. And that’s the beginning of our loss of innocence and our distrust of government and our group American paranoia. And Wes was turning that around and making that also the loss of innocence for a generation and, in particular, young women, because we always have a woman survivor, the survivor girl, as they say in Holly-weird. But, I think it’s an amalgamation of all of those things that (creates the) nightmare, the legend."

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Check out the series premiere of True Terror with Robert Englund on the Travel Channel on Wednesday, March 18th at 10 p.m. ET.

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