A few weeks ago, the legendary actor Robert Englund — best known for playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series — appeared on the Inside of You podcast with Michael Rosenbaum to reflect on his lengthy career both as the horror icon and in other roles. Before landing the role of Freddy Krueger, in fact, the classically trained actor was usually typecast as a redneck or a nerd.
Englund’s Wikipedia page also suggests that he was up for a role in Star Wars back in 1977, which is only sort-of true, according to Englund. He was never in serious consideration for the role; however, he says he helped Mark Hamill land the role of Luke Skywalker. As Englund tells it on the podcast, he was actually auditioning for a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. He didn’t land the role, but after the audition, they did “walk him across the hall” to the Star Wars audition and told him, “You might be right for something here.”
Englund says that they had briefly considered him for the Han Solo role, although at the time, it was configured differently than after Harrison Ford was cast. “Originally, they were thinking of an older uncle, the kind of guy that brings a joint to Thanksgiving and gets all the kids high,” Englund said. “And I think they even offered it to Tom Selleck.”
Needless to say, Englund did not get offered the role of Han Solo. However, while he was at the audition, he “noticed the sides for Luke Skywalker because of the name. It was such a great name. I looked at the sides, and I can’t remember if I stole them or not.” Afterward, he went and had a couple of drinks and returned to his home, where his then-close friend, Mark Hamill, was sleeping on his couch.
“Mark was on my couch watching The Bob Newhart Show,” Englund continued. “And I walked in the door and I said, ‘Hey Mark, George Lucas is doing another movie. And you might be right for this.”
“And so my ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Story’ is that Freddy Krueger told Luke Skywalker to call his agent and he got in there and got the part. Now, his agent hates me telling this story because she swears that she already submitted him,” Englund added.
Hamill’s agent is not the only person who hates that Englund tells that story, which he has been repeating for years. Englund continues to tell the story even though Mark Hamill himself has gone on the record to deny it.
It’s a good story, but at least according to Hamill, it is not entirely true. On the podcast, Englund says that he and Hamill remained friends for several years after Star Wars before they began to drift apart. One wonders if they drifted apart because Englund continues to repeat a story that Hamill has denied?