Many horror fans tend to believe that Robert Englund is not only the greatest actor to have ever portrayed the iconic slasher villain Freddy Krueger, but also the only actor that could fit the role. As it turns out, however, he wasn’t exactly the first choice to play Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact, a much different actor from Englund almost took the part. As revealed in the 2010 documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, Wes Craven originally wanted to have actor David Warner bring the Freddy Krueger character to life.
Obviously David Warner is no stranger to the horror genre. He’s applied his talents to a variety of classics, both on large scales and smaller cult films. Nevertheless, he’s proven himself to be an immensely skilled actor and with the notion that he could have almost played Freddy Krueger instead of Robert Englund – and there were even make-up tests that you can see below.
David Warner ("The Omen", "TRON", "Titanic") was the original choice for Freddy Krueger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, at which point Robert Englund was cast. Here are two early make-up tests of the British actor as the horror icon. from movies
But what exactly happened that forced actor David Warner out of the picture and allowed Robert Englund to take on the role of Freddy Krueger which he held for several decades? As the story goes, David Warner apparently dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts which made it impossible to participate in Wes Craven’s 1984 horror film.
While the novelty of David Warner playing Freddy Krueger is certainly one that’s exciting for fans, it was perhaps the best option that the role would ultimately wind up with Robert Englund. After all, his iconic and memorably haunting yet subtly comedic performance as Freddy Krueger is what helped make Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street the classic that fans remember today. It just wouldn’t be the same if David Warner were under the makeup instead.
Luckily things seem to have worked out in the end, with Robert Englund not only having received the role of a lifetime by playing Freddy Krueger, but David Warner himself has ended up with quite a career. Perhaps if he’d have played Freddy Krueger we wouldn’t have gotten so many beloved performances from Warner. And that would simply be a shame.