Robert Englund is one of the true modern icons of horror comparable to Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi. As Freddy Krueger- he was responsible for me wetting the bed more than once as a child- so I was tickled pink to actually get to speak with him over the phone for an interview promoting his new film- JACK BROOKS: MONSTER HUNTER (which I reviewed here).
The film, a Canadian horror/comedy, directed by Jon Knautz, pits the titular Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews), against his adult Ed. science teacher, Professor Crowley (Englund), who transforms into a monster after coming into contact with an ancient curse. Englund was in Toronto promoting the film, which played at the Fantasia Film Festival a few weeks ago- and comes out across Canada on July 25th, and should be hitting DVD in the fall.
ROBERT ENGLUND INTERVIEW
Chris Bumbray: Well Mr. Englund- youíve been all over Fantasia with this & your other film, REDÖ
Robert Englund: I loved that film- very Peckinpah-ish...
CB: How did you get involved with JACK BROOKS?
RE: My agent found it and sent me the script. The first half didnít quite click for me- I didnít clue into THE EVIL DEAD/ Sam Raimi sensibility of the script. They sent me a short film the director, Knatz, and Trevor Matthews, the actor made a few years ago. It was a great little film- Like finding a lost episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE- perfectly realized novella of a film. I got on the phone immediately and said I wanted to be aboard.
I made myself a sandwich, hopped into bed, and looked at the script again, and I imagined a Sam Raimi attitude in it. I picked out a few parts, including the professor which I thought I could bring some physical comedy to. I hadnít done that in a long time- it goes back to my roots in theater. Iím getting on in years, and it gave me the opportunity to do something different, some broad comedy. I was on a plane to Ottawa- it was really fun for me. We were shooting all over in some rural Ottawa locations and I fell in love with the countryside- and we had nice weather.
CB: I thought you gave a great Chaplin-esque, Buster Keaton style performance- great slapstick, and pratfalls. Did you do your own stunts, falling down steps, etc?
RE: Thatís all me- Trevor did 99% of his too. That happens when you get to the set- everyone gets macho. I know better these days though- you get sore the next morning.
CB: At this point in your career- do you find yourself more attracted to character roles, like this & RED?
RE: I was under the makeup- not only for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, etc.- when I stopped it was twenty years later. I look older- more like Trevor Howard, or George C. Scott when they were older. I have a little more gravitas these days- I play professors & doctors, etc. My philosophy is I go where Iím wanted. I found by adhering to that thereís much more adventure. Iíve done a few in a row- including one Iím very pleased with (BEHIND THE MASK) which were well received. With these films, I worked with young directors which was informative for me and kept me feeling young.
CB: Do you seek out younger, raw talent?
RE: Since 2004 Iíve experienced three or four young directors I really liked. and now I am keeping my eyes open for more talent like them. Iíd also like to repeat some work with them like Scott Glosserman & Jon Knautz. Iíd like to become part of their repertory company. Iím also directing more these days- I just directed a teen movie, and then Iím off to direct another film-based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol- which is a gothic story- not really a horror film, but it has a monster in it.
-NEXT QUESTION HAS A SPOILER IN IN-
CB: Considering you turn into a monster in JACK BROOKS- I felt bad for the character. He was sympathetic- I kept hoping heíd pull through- but alasÖ
RE: We wanted him to be sympathetic, like a surrogate father to Jack. Itís always fun when you take a sympathetic character and punish him. We all know they guy dating Jackís girlfriend is going to get his ass kicked- because he deserves it. Itís always conflicting and richer when someone nice gets his due.
Thanks again to Robert Englund for taking the time to chat me with, as well as producer Patrick White & Suzanne Villeneuve of SVBiz inc. for setting this up.