Set Visit: A Trip to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ PART FOUR

One man’s magic is another man’s gluey torture session.” – Jackie Earle Haley. With less than 3 weeks until Freddy Krueger returns to the big screen in Warner Bros. and New Line’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, we’d like to present to you our fourth and final set visit report, this time taking us to Gary, Indiana to witness what we’re told is a deleted scene from the movie, along with a trip to a nightmare version of “Elm Street”. Spoilers? Maybe? In addition, you’ll find a ton more from Jackie Earle Haley about how he took on the role of Freddy and a special interview with writer Eric Heisserer!

Set Report Part 4 (Jackie Earle Haley, writer Eric Heisserer)
June 29, 2009
Shooting Day #40 of 46

Editor’s note: Major spoilers follow.

A DARK AND DREARY WAK DOWN ELM STREET

The nightmares continued when I headed back to the set of ELM STREET, only this time I’d be heading into Gary, Indiana during an ongoing Michael Jackson mourning session.

The first location was an exterior of Elm Street. To bring you in the story, the third act of the film features stars Roonery Mara and Kyle Gallner, Nancy and Quentin respectively, who are on their way to the school where the human Freddy Krueger did he early deeds. From a lack of sleep, the duo are experiencing micro-naps, which causes them to shoots back and forth between reality and the dream world. The exterior location was that “Freddy’s” Elm Street, with boarded up, blackened abandoned houses, rotting dead trees and brown grass. A lawnmower pumps smoke onto the set, creating a desolate and dark location, all the while the sky is clouding up and rain is drizzling down. It was like actually being in the Dream Demon’s world.

There’s a giant blue screen in the background, which will be filled in with smoke-filled factories and swamps. Kyle and Rooney walk down the street as director Sam Bayer composes a tracking shot. Bayer explains that as they’re walking they need to stop and take a look at an invisible dog that will be digitally inserted later. It will be a creepy gray pit-bull. The skies will be black and crows will litter the trees (thanks to more VFX).

After soaking in the moment, a special treat walked right into my lap – writer Eric Heisserer was there visiting for a day! Who better to talk about the micro-naps than the man who came up with the idea? He explains what it feels like to experience the set for the first time.

It is exciting and it is monotonous, there is a lot of coverage and takes, doing the same thing over and over to get the one shot but this is really Sam’s show at this point of time, I get to look from back here in the chair.

As for the micro-naps, he explains where the idea came from.

I did a lot of research, I guess it was method writing at that point of time,” he explains. “I had a small window to come back with a significant story, so I was really up late many nights and found some evidence online about sleep deprivation and what happens to the body and mind and I took that concept and ran with it and created the micro naps that we use

The scene the two of us are watching follow Nancy and Quentin leading up to a finale much different than the original ELM STREET. Eric explains that they didn’t struggle with that decision.

I don’t think there was a struggle for that we just found ourselves not glued to the story and taking it to a place that seemed darkest, scariest and most intense for all of the characters and that went from Nancy’s house in the original to where it takes place now.

As for his interpretations of Freddy, Eric talks a bit about developing the character and the ideas for doing crazy gimmicks like having Freddy’s arm stretch.

Oh sure, [there were] many ideas and some of it was this trial and error, and some of it was once we got Sam on board he certainly put his own vision of what he wanted to accomplish, what tricks he wanted to try and it is sort of a playground or sandbox for this type of movie. What things do we have Freddy do? What things did we love from the original? There were visual cues we both adored and we wanted to find homes for in this and then there were things we wanted to make sure were new and different and would allow for loyal fans and people who haven’ seen the movies before some surprises and we will see after filming how well they transferred.

He continues talking about making Freddy scary and not comical.

You know, in the original he’s not [comical], I mean it turns into that and similarly to when u look at a number of the franchises, like LETHAL WEAPON, the original was dark and then it turns into sort of a comedy, but we looked at Craven’s first nightmare and that’s really where we wanted to have our home, this really scary, scary story.

THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, FACE-TO-FACE WITH FREDDY KRUEGER

One man’s magic is another man’s gluey torture session.” – Jackie Earle Haley

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A few hours pass and we’re all wearing hard hats. Why? We’re about to enter an abandoned church that’s literally on its last legs. After fooling around and eating half of the crew’s catering, we took a trip across the street to the church that was originally built in the 1920′s. The structure is one of the most expensive in Gary, IN (not shocking if you’ve been unfortunate enough to visit).

Inside there was debris everywhere, the ceiling was falling apart and holes in the ground made me think at any point one of us could fall through. Giant gothic pillars made of stone holstered the church up and chains were hanging down from the ceiling.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The crew had been rigging a wire shot all day that would be used to have Freddy throw Quentin across the church. The scene opens when Quentin enters a nightmare state and the walls drop down around him revealing the gigantic church structure.

Jackie Earle Haley is wearing a black robe and standing on stilts to look unusually tall.

Sam Bayer is getting frantic; he’s excited to get rolling.

The shot in a close-up of Kyle Gallner as he looks up – Freddy’s glove enter the frame. His knifed fingers touch Kyle’s shoulder as Jackie Earle Haley exclaims (as Freddy), “Confess the sins of your father,“a reference to Freddy’s fiery death earlier in the film; Bayer pans over to Freddy and focuses on his gruesome face.

“Cut!”

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Jackie slides on his patent purple glasses and asks to see his scene played back so he could study it, do it better. They shoot it a few more times and move on to the next sequence.

After Freddy asks Quentin to “Confess the sins of your father,” Kyle immediately turns around and starts running – right into Freddy’s hand. The Dream Demon lifts Quentin off the ground by the throat, “Do you think you can run? From ME?

It was a preview to the climax and I didn’t want to see any more. I want to be surprised on April 30th when the film hits theaters.

But before we bid you adieu, how about an exclusive one on one interview with Jackie Earle Haley?

MR. DISGUSTING vs FREDDY KRUEGER

I’ve seen Leatherface in the flesh, Jason Voorhees and even Michael Myers, but nothing amounts to the legend of Freddy Krueger. While I would have loved to see Robert Englund sporting the Freddy make-up, it was still a dream to interview Jackie Earle Haley all gored up for the ELM STREET remake. Speaking of the make-up…

It started at six [a.m.], I think it worked its way down to 3:20. It’s been an amazing experience; I like to call it, `the make-up chair torture,’” Haley jokes. “It was nice to discover after all of these years it was Robert who was the one being tortured on all of these movies… the irony! The make-up is really arduous, it’s taken a while to get used to it, but the entire way been really worth it, just because it looks so good.

It looks like the make-up gets into his eye-line, but that’s not the real pain.

That doesn’t phase me at all compared to the contact lenses, the fake finger tips, and then they put blades over here; you can’t even pee!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Speaking of becoming the new Freddy Krueger, Jackie Earle Haley talks a bit about making this character his own.

I think it is important to make this version my own – but be very aware Robert’s work from prior,” he explains. “Because Freddy is a very iconic character, made so by Robert. But this is kind of a re-envisioning, so I think it was important to make it my own, and to work with Sam along that line. What his vision is-is so pertinent in all of this.” He continues, “To simplify this, to boil it down, I think what we’re doing different is to make the movie a little bit more serious; a little bit scarier.

Haley reflects back on his first day the Dream Demon, Freddy Krueger.

It was great. There’s a little process with acting, it’s almost with any part. You delve it and you start to do work with the screenplay. Looking at the character, looking at the curve. Then you do some research, what makes this guy tick, there’s stuff outside to look at. You start to play with the character, you try and put the pieces together.

He continues, “There’s something really informative about the first several times when you start to commit to stuff, because you’re finally really dipping the paint brush into some paint, and your putting something on to the canvas. It is informative, you can sit back and say, `What did we do there?’ The painting is starting, it starts to become more clear. Usually the first half of the project, there’s this going on (pointing to the outer appearance of his make-up). Somewhere along the line that starts to go away, and everything start to settle in, and the character starts to become more natural. That’s a fun process.

At this point I started to play around a bit and ask some silly questions (why the f*ck not?).

“Have you had any nightmares about yourself?”

No I haven’t, everybody keeps asking me that question. I’m sure I’ll have a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET nightmare at some point,” he jokes.

“A self-aware nightmare, awesome.”

Ahhh I’m chasing myself !(laughs)

“Do you remember the first time you looked in mirror, with the make-up on, and realized, `today is the day, I’m Freddy; Oh my god.’ How did that feel?”

Totally surreal,” said Haley. “ It was kind of surreal along the way, because before you can get into make-up, we got pretty close to the silhouette with the everything. It’s very iconic with the wardrobe; they did a wonderful job with the colors. That was kind of getting surreal. But when then threw all on this one (the make-up), I was pretty blown away. Especially the next day, when Andrew [Clements] showed me some pictures on the computer, I could wear my glasses and everything; I could really see it form the various angles. I was pretty excited; also it made it to where I felt like I could handle all of that arduous make-up, because the payoff was worth it; if it would be a bummer if I were sitting there all these hours, and hating the make-up. It is the complete reverse, I think Andrew Clements did such an amazing job designing it, it is a little more grounded in reality, but yet it still has some of the original things.

“Your wife came to set?”

Yes.

“She see you in the make-up?”

Yes.

“She kiss you in the full make-up?”

I could never quite get her to give me one on the lips. (laughs)

While the set visit was a dream-like experience of my own, only time will tell if the Platinum Dunes/Warner Bros. Pictures remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a good film. Arriving in theaters April 30th, you’ll all be able to take a trip down Elm Street and see if any actual nightmares arise.

READ PART 1
READ PART 2
READ PART 3
FULL INTERVIEWS (coming soon)
PREVIEW PIECE: BIRTH OF A NEW FREDDY

A Nightmare on Elm Street