Throwback Thursday! Freddy’s Dead, the Final Nightmare
Yes, those are my feet! That’s me wearing the Freddy Krueger costume and “playing with power!” in “Freddy’s Dead, the Final Nightmare – Nightmare on Elm Street, part 6”.
I graduated from UCSC with a degree in Theatre Arts in June, 1987. I moved to Marin county and lived in Novato before moving back to Los Angeles in 1988. I began my Hollywood career working as a P.A. (Production Assistant) at Highlight Commercials. Their office was on the Hollywood Center Studio lot and the first job I worked for them was the original “Rock the Vote” PSAs shoot on the Chaplin Stage at A&M Studios (you can read about that shoot in a previous blog).
Working freelance production for film, television, video, commercials, theater and live events in Hollywood is real hustle! You have to find the jobs and then you have to do the work while trying to find the next job. I worked film, video and commercial jobs for Highlight, the Oil Factory, O Pictures, The End Productions, Gun-For-Hire, Crystal Sky (Preferred Productions), ITC, AIP, Touring Video, Arnold Shapiro Productions, MPCA (Motion Picture Corporation of America), Concorde-New Horizon Productions, Stargate Films, Alive Enterprises, Nightmare Inc. and many other companies during my production days.
I got a call one day from a friend I had met on another job. She was working for Patty Whitcher and New Line Cinema and they were hiring a Third Unit for pickup shots because they were behind schedule on “Nightmare on Elm Street, part 6”. They offered me a week of work as a Production Assistant which I happily accepted, and they let me bill them under my company name at the time Pro and Con Productions Entertainment Production.
There were two units night shooting in and around a warehouse stage in Van Nuys/North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley and they hired me for the small third unit and the pickup shots. It was a big “Low-Budget” shoot and they were working on a lot of the special effects segments with fire, smoke and practical prostethics while I was on set that week. The third unit shots were pretty simple: lighting effects simulating a helicopter over the truck cab, close-ups on hands and specific items, and then insert shots of Freddy playing a video game. Third unit was very small, just the essential crew: director/dp, cameraman & assistant, 2 grip/electricians and me. Since they hadn’t hired a double for Freddy, they sent me to wardrobe, and they dressed me in the Freddy Krueger costume! And this wasn’t the first time I had been called from behind the camera to fill an acting role (I was previously “instant cast” as a Crew Member on “Eternity” and as a double for Chris Lemmon in “Firehead” while working on the crew, as well as performing the role of The Emerson Penguin Team Mascot in “Zapped Again”).
When Third Unit was lighting or wasn’t shooting, I was often called to assist First and Second Unit, so I got to meet some of the cast and crew. If you look at the credits, you might be surprised by the strength of the talent, both in front and behind the camera. It was the first film written and directed by Rachel Talalay (a woman director), written and executive produced by Michael De Luca, and produced by Aron Warner, all of whom went on to bigger things. Aron won a Best Animated Feature Academy Award and a BAFTA Best Feature Film Children’s Award for “Shrek” in 2002. Rachel has 54 IMDB director credits and is currently directing “The Flash”. Michael is the former President of Production for New Line Cinema and Dreamworks with Academy Award nominations for “The Social Network”, “Moneyball” and “Captain Phillips” who recently moved his producer’s deal from Sony to Universal. Patricia Whitcher is the executive producer and unit production manager of “Avengers, Age of Ultron” and currently executive producing “Captain America, Civil War” for Marvel. Check out their IMDB pages for other credits and awards.
My featured scene, which was shot on set by the Third Unit, features Johnny Depp and Breckin Meyer in addition to Robert Englund as Freddy, and plays out on screen to the tune of the Iron Butterfly’s “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida”. Weird coincidence, because my father was the Iron Butterfly’s Manager. I had met the guys in Iron Butterfly and grew up with the gold and platinum records for their albums on the wall in my house. Other weird coincidences: Breckin Meyer and I went to the same private high school, and I would later work for Alice Cooper who was shooting a cameo for the film with another actor who would later become my client when I became a talent manager years later. Also, Iggy Pop won a 1992 Razzie Award for Worst Original Song “Why Was I Born (Freddy’s Dead)” and I worked with Iggy on my first “Hollywood” job the first series of “Rock The Vote” PSAs.
I didn’t think very much about doubling for Freddy at the time. Just some insert shots, I thought, not knowing that they would be part of a key scene in the film resulting in the death of a main character. I sat in the chair, put my booted feet up and followed direction. Afterwards, I returned the costume to wardrobe without even taking a polaroid (no cell phones in 1991) for myself and went back to work. It wasn’t until I saw the film later that I realized how lucky I was to be part of the franchise (even though I’m uncredited and totally anonymous in the film). And I don’t even have a P.A. production credit because I was Third Unit (probably paid off the books) and I billed them as my company and not in my own name.
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Born November 2nd 1984…Dies September 1991
They saved the best for last.
Evil has finally met its match.
Take him home in a box.
You think you know about dreams…You know nothing!
“One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You!”