You can thank Freddy Krueger for Luke Skywalker.
As far as small-town Hollywood stories go, this is one of the better ones we’ve heard. While recently sitting down for an extensive Role Recall chat with Robert Englund, who gave horror a (very charred) new face over the course of two decades and eight movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, the conversation veered into a fascinating bit of Star Wars trivia.
The actor describes how, long before he’d first don Freddy’s fedora and bladed glove, he had gone out for one of the surfer roles in Apocalypse Now. He was told he was too old for the part, but was then directed across the hallway, where they were holding auditions for a mysterious science fiction film called Star Wars. (The directors of those two films, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, were good friends, and in fact Lucas was originally slated to direct Apocalypse).
Englund was seen for the role of Han Solo, which of course would go to Harrison Ford, but was told this time he was deemed too young (Englund says that at the time they were looking at Tom Selleck, but he may be confusing that with another role that would go to Ford, Indiana Jones, for which the Magnum, P.I. actor was once considered the top choice).
"And then I went home and told a little kid that was sleeping on my couch, after a six-pack of Heineken, all about [Star Wars], and his name was Mark Hamill,” Englund recalls. “I said, ‘Hey, Lucas is doing this space movie. Maybe you’re right for it. The lead guy’s like a teenager…. So Mark got on the phone to his agent and I think he went up the next day. He nailed it, and the rest is history.”
Hamill, a relatively unknown TV actor prior to landing what would prove the role of a lifetime, rewarded his good buddy Englund with scoop from the set. “When he got back from Star Wars, I got all the gossip,” the Elm Street vet says. “Not only did he have a huge crush on Carrie Fisher, but I heard all the stories.
"He knew always that it was going to be this amazing, iconic thing."
Watch Englund’s two-part Role Recall below:
Photo credit: LucasFilm