Jackie Earle Haley tells io9 he researched serial killers to add psychological realism to Freddy Krueger... before he realized that was a mistake. We also learned how that iconic claw-in-the-bathtub scene almost went wrong and threatened Rooney Mara's "lady bits."
We caught up with Haley, who played Rorschach in Watchmen and is co-starring in The Human Target, at Wondercon, and he talked to us about playing another iconic figure, the terrifying Freddy Krueger. We had an equipment malfunction, so we didn't get this part of the interview, but we asked him about how he developed Freddy's voice. And Haley told us he experimented with lots of different types of voices, before ending up with something quite similar to Rorschach.
And then Haley talked to us about his research into serial killers, and his attempt to find psychological depth in Freddy, before realizing that Freddy shouldn't have psychological depth:
What I needed to do was get into the mind of this mythical bogey man... It was really quite freeing to do that. That's who Freddy is, he's a dream demon. He's like this main character in a campfire story. When I started really to embrace that that's what we were doing, that's when I was able to really embrace Freddy and go for it.
And he also talked a bit about how the culture of horror movies is bizarre, because it really does go back to the tradition of the campfire story, where you're alone together in the dark and it's a scary situation already, and for some reason people feel the need to tell scary stories on top of that.
But even though Haley discovered that Freddy doesn't need more character development, other stars of the movie were determined to add depth to their characters. Katie Cassidy plays Kris Fowles, who's the "good girl" in the movie, and she tells us how she saw more layers to the character in this version. Also, Thomas "John Connor" Dekker plays Jesse Braun, and he explained how he decided to buck the trend of male leads in horror movies never acting scared.
I said, "Look. The one thing I care about in this movie is, I'm sick of men in horror movies — or teenagers, or boys, or whatever you want to call them — never showing fear or emotion in these horrendous situations." I'm tired of men being like, "I'm always okay." No, no, no, no, no. If something is about to kill you, you're going to cry. You're going to scream. [Cassidy: "You're going to piss your pants."] It's just male vanity. But like I said, "I don't want to do that. I want to cry and I want to be weak." And they said, "Go for it." So that was cool.
And finally, we talked to Rooney Mara, who plays Nancy Holbrook, about shooting the famous scene where Freddy's hand comes out of the bathtub. Apparently the props people cut the hole in the wrong place: