When the Stranger Things trailer showed off a grotesque Robert Englund in a quick montage, fans were delighted to see the veteran actor appear in the fourth season of the series.
Undoubtedly royalty in the horror genre, Englund is revered for his iconic role as Freddy Kreuger in the 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street and its subsequent sequels. Not only do the seven episodes of the first volume of the fourth season pay homage to all things the eighties, especially the legendary film by making a reference to the boiler room, but also casts Englund in a crucial role.
Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things released the first volume of its fourth season on Netflix after a three-year-long hiatus and presented an even gorier, darker and more gruesome season with several spooky narratives. taking place across Hawkins, California and Kamchatka in Russia, the season focused on the harrowing presence of the nightmarish monster named Vecna who unleashes havoc on Hawkins. It also marked the return of the Mind Flayer towards the very end, indicating a deadly inevitable battle in the upcoming second volume as well as the fifth and final season.
The fourth season saw most of the older cast making a return, namely Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Matthew Modine, Brett Gelman etc. New faces included Jamie Campbell Bower, Joseph Quinn, Raphael Luce and Englund in prominent roles.
In the fourth episode of the first volume, titled ‘Dear Billy’, Englund makes an appearance as the aged Victor Creel who is locked in the infamous Pennhurst asylum. One of the most epic episodes this season, it features some of the most significant events, including Max’s face-off with Vecna, the Hawkins gang rescuing her and Nancy and Robin finally meeting the senior Creel.
With Vecna haunting Hawkins and preying on people’s guilt and making them succumb to hallucinations, Nancy and Robin decide to get to the bottom of it by feigning thesis interest in Victor Creel to talk to him.
After they are permitted to meet Creel, they are shocked by his grotesque appearance: a suicidal Creel has attempted to gouge out his own eyes after the life-altering events which occurred after they moved into the Creel House. He tells the women about how his family’s lives were disrupted once they moved into the house. With dead animals and spiders haunting them, they were cursed by a demonic entity who killed his wife and daughter, sending his son into a coma.
Creel never confirms if his son, Henry is alive or dead. Before the girls can question him more, they are pursued by the asylum head, who has seen through their lies and narrowly escaped, while Creel escapes into a trauma-induced delirium.
While Englund’s story in the season is pretty heartbreaking, the tale behind how he managed to snag the role is pretty interesting. In an interview, Matt Duffer shared that casting Englund in the role of Victor Creel was “one of those moments that feels like fate”. While discussing the massive impact of A Nightmare on Elm Street on the fourth season, he talked about the audition tape that casting director Carmen Cuba sent them from Englund himself.
Matt shared, “He just sent in a tape. He was lying in a bathtub performing the monologues that you see on the show. He was unbelievable. He gave the same performance that he gave on the show. So he was great.”
While we are still baffled by why Englund decided to audition in a bathtub, we are happy for the Duffers who are huge eighties pop-culture fanboys and got signed posters from the legend himself!