The co-creator of the Netflix series Stranger Things, Matt Duffer, recalled the funny way actor Robert Englund was cast as Victor Creel in season 4.
Warning! This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4!
Stranger Things creator Matt Duffer recently recalled the funny way actor Robert Englund was cast in season 4. Englund made a name for himself as the nightmarish Freddy Kruger in the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. In the film series, the villainous apparition tortures his victims through their dreams while they sleep, subsequently killing them in the real world. His character is a direct inspiration for Vecna, the telepathic inter-dimensional being who torments his victims with nightmares of their trauma before killing them.
Englund makes his only appearance in Stranger Things season 4 in episode 4, “Dear Billy,” as Victor Creel, the father of Henry Creel/One/Vecna. While investigating the mysterious new murders in Hawkins, Indiana, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) finds a connection with the 1959 murders of the Creel family that Victor allegedly committed. Nancy and Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) visit Pennhurst Asylum to get his firsthand account of the events. They find Victor scarred; his eyes grotesquely cut up by razor blades due to a previous suicide attempt. However, Victor recalls the brutal events of that fateful night, thus revealing the true identity of Vecna.
In a recent interview with Deadline, Matt revealed the funny way Englund was cast as Victor in Stranger Things season 4. The creator admitted that he was a big fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, sharing that Nancy’s name was directly pulled from Heather Langenkamp’s character, Nancy Thompson, in the original 1984 film. While reviewing multiple audition tapes for the role, Matt was shocked to find that Englund also submitted a tape. He claims that he called his casting director, Carmen Cuba, to ask why she did not tell him of the actor’s submission. Carmen admitted that she wanted it to be a surprise. Read what the Stranger Things creator said below.
“It was basically a fan boy dynamic but what was weird about the Robert Englund thing is, it was not our idea. It was not our casting director’s idea. He self-submitted a tape for this role, and he did this…I think we watched around a dozen tapes. And suddenly, on audition number seven it’s Robert, sitting in the bathtub delivering his monologue. I immediately called our casting director Carmen and was like it’s Robert Englund. It’s Freddy Kreuger. How could you not tell me this? She wanted it to be a surprise for us. What was so cool about it was that he had no idea, at the time that he put himself on tape, how heavily influenced this show was from the beginning by Nightmare on Elm Street. Nancy is called Nancy after Heather Langenkamp’s character in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. This season in particular is very much our Nightmare on Elm Street season, and Robert had no way of knowing that. I wish it had been my idea because it’s such a good idea to have him have this cameo role. I just wouldn’t have ever thought to go to him because it’s a big scene but it is just one scene ultimately. The fact he had been watching the show was exciting.”
The self-professed Nightmare on Elm Street fan-boy revealed that he was beside himself when he saw Englund’s audition. Such an iconic actor and direct influence on Matt’s life and the show was more than a surprise for the Stranger Things creator. Having a star whose work inspired season 4 to join that season was something special for the Duffer brothers and 80s horror fans.
Englund’s inclusion in Stranger Things season 4 proved to be one of the most prominent highlights of the season. The parallels between Vecna and Freddy Krueger were obvious, and casting Englund as the father of the series’ chief villain is a touching tribute to the actor’s long career as one of the greatest cinematic horror monsters of all time. As the end of season 4 implied that Vecna survived following his battle with the heroes of Hawkins, there may be room for Englund to reprise his role as Victor when Stranger Things returns for season 5.
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