Hollywood Monster, Robert Englund’s autobiography, is really an exceptional book. Some actors use autobiographies as vanity pieces and fill them with anecdotes about how great they were way back when. That isn’t the case with Hollywood Monster. Englund became a cultural icon as Freddy Krueger but comes across as a humble actor who’s quick to praise the directors, writers, actors, and film crews he’s worked with during his long career.
Robert Englund is honest about his reasons for becoming an actor. Englund discovered acting classes were a great way to meet and mingle with hot chicks. Later, he became something of a “theater snob actor” during his college days. Those prejudices disappeared when Englund learned his old classmates were making money as television actors while he starved performing in plays. After slaving away as Biker #2 and Thug #3 in film and tv roles, Englund got his first taste of stardom as Willie, the lovable lizard man in V.
For Freddy fans the chapters dealing with Englund getting the role of Krueger and the character’s meteoric rise to major horror icon will contain the most interesting anecdotes. The most startling revelation (for me anyway) is Englund only got an audition with Wes Craven because he wasn’t cast in National Lampoon’s Class Reunion. Casting director Annette Benson felt sorry for Englund and suggested he try out for a little horror movie called A Nightmare on Elm Street. Also included in the Freddy chapters are details about deleted scenes, stories about cast and crew, encounters with fans, and misadventures in the make-up chair.
In the last chapters Englund discusses his career after Freddy. He openly embraces his status as a horror actor which is refreshing considering how some actors will do anything to distance themselves from their horror film past. Thankfully, you won’t see Robert Englund promoting products that help middle-aged women take a crap anytime soon. (Yes, I’m talking about you Jamie Lee Curtis.) Englund could’ve been nasty and bitter about becoming a horror icon but he realizes young directors hire him now because they grew up watching Freddy. The book ends with several appendixes listing Robert Englund’s (and Freddy’s) favorite films, songs, one-liners, and death scenes in the Nightmare series.
Hollywood Monster offers an interesting glimpse into the life of a guy who started out as an actor and became a major film boogeyman. Englund,with help from Alan Goldsher, tells his story with wit and a sense of humility mixed with gratitude. One gets the impression Robert Englund is really just a film fan who is still amazed he gets paid to work with actors he admires. If you’re a die-hard slasher or Nightmare fan, then you’ve got to add Hollywood Monster to your collection.