[Interview] Heather Langenkamp On Playing Nancy Through The Years!

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Image Entertainment released the amazing A Nightmare on Elm Street doc, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (read the review), on Blu-ray last week. It features exclusive interviews with over 100 key cast and crew from every Nightmare, including creator Wes Craven and Robert Englund (“Freddy Krueger”). If you’re a nightmare fan who hasn’t seen this thing, your life is not yet complete.

The documentary is hosted by another one of the franchise’s anchors, Heather Langenkamp who appeared in parts 1 and 3 as “Nancy” before playing herself in New Nightmare. I recently spoke with her about what she calls “the role of a lifetime.”

Check it out below!

I kind of wanted to track your experience playing Nancy through the years. In each film she’s in a completely different place in her life. Or your life, for the last one.

I’ve been done playing her for so long now that Never Sleep Again actually helps me look back at them. I don’t know if there are any other examples in history of an actress that got to play a teenager, the mid-20’s version of the character and then the mid-30’s version of the character. Now when I look back on it, it’s the role of a lifetime. Nancy and I, especially in New Nightmare, often get conflated into being the same type of person and Wes must have seen something in me that was the good type of girl Nancy was. Very self sufficient, strong and loyal to her friends. She’s a genius in some ways and has a spunky “won’t give up” spirit. As a teen auditioning for him, he must have seen something that he liked which was very flattering.

In the second script he worked on for the series, Dream Warriors, he said, “we’re going to bring you back. You and Fred are the core of the storyline and I want to have a throughline that connects the past and these new kids in a really natural way.” You have all of these new kids that are really struggling with what Nancy struggles with in the first movie.

And then in the 7th one I’m playing myself as the actress who saw these movies get made and I have a bit of a cynical attitude towards these things. But it really brought her character to a wonderful ending because she actually lives and you have this meta story type that was further explored in Scream.

And New Nightmare is also informed a bit from some of the fallout you had becoming a celebrity – a stalker.

Yeah Wes used that. At the time there were a lot of cases of stalkers. It’s pretty de rigueur to have an issue with a fan that has “demands”, there were a lot of cases like that. So Wes kind of used that to sort of hint that I might be going a little nuts with all of this pressure of a stalker but really it’s Freddy coming up into her life. He often has that red herring of a plot point. Initially the stalker was a much bigger character but it was unnecessary and Wes cut a lot of it out of the script.

In Never Sleep Again you’re examining a lot of these films that you’re not in. Did you follow those as they were being made or did the documentary give you a chance to familiarize yourself with them?

I was totally unfamiliar with the backstories for the other films. I went to one of the premiere parties for Nightmare 4, I think I had seen the TV series, and I met Renny Harlin at that point. I was intrigued by that branch of films and where they were going into super sequel franchise mania. It became such a big business, it became so commercial. When I got the part in the first movie I was like, “oh I’m in a horror movie that no one will go see.” But by the 4th and 5th one people who were getting cast were like, “yes! I’m in a Freddy movie!”

Numerous Special Features Also Included:

· Extended Interviews
· First Look: Heather Langenkamp’s “I Am Nancy”
· For the Love of the Glove
· Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans
· Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street
· Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd
· Expanding the Video Game Universe: Freddy in Comic Books and Novels
· The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations with Composers and Songwriters
· Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak
· A Nightmare on Elm Street in 10 Minutes
· Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Teaser Trailer