All seasons of Stranger Things have embraced beloved components of '80s pop culture, so when it was revealed that iconic Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund had joined Season 4, it seemed like an intentional opportunity to pay respects to his work in genre cinema. However, creators of the series Matt and Ross Duffer recently recalled that it wasn't an intentional move to enlist Englund to play Victor Kreel, but that Englund himself submitted an audition tape like any other actor, with his performance in that tape being what won him the integral role. Stranger Things Season 4 – Volume 2 debuts on Netflix on July 1st.
"I wish it was our casting idea, or even our casting director. He just submitted a tape, which is the crazy thing about it," Matt Duffer revealed to Variety. "I would never have thought to go to him, it was a one-episode ... it was a hugely important role, but we were just, Carmen Cuba, she's brilliant, our casting director, she sent us all these tapes. She doesn't warn us, she doesn't tell us, she just likes to put them in the middle of it. Then we're watching all these auditions for Victor and then just, right in the middle, there's Robert Englund lying in the middle of a bathtub delivering this monologue."
The filmmaker continued, "It was weird because, at that point, it was very clear this season, we had written most of it, or a lot of it, and it was so inspired, obviously, by the Nightmare [on Elm Street] films. And Vecna, our new villain, was clearly inspired by Freddy, and there's no way Robert would have known that. So it just felt as much like fate as you can get."
Enlisting Englund into the project, as if his acting abilities weren't effective enough, added another layer of significance to the project not only for fans, but also for the Duffer brothers themselves.
"For this season, we go, 'Let's actually try to do something that is frightening,' so that led us to look back at the movies, when we were falling in love with horror movies, and go, 'Which are the ones that really, didn't just scare us in the moment, like a jump scare, but actually stuck with us and wormed their way into your brain?'" Ross Duffer detailed. "So that brings up the Hellraisers and the Nightmare on Elm Street. So that's really what we wanted to do this season."
Stranger Things Season 4 – Volume 2 debuts on Netflix on July 1st.
What did you think of Englund's casting in the latest season? Let us know in the comments or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!