Robert Englund will, of course, always be remembered as Freddy Krueger. The blade-fingered villain of A Nightmare on Elm Street is a bona fide horror icon and there’s persistent talk that he’ll reprise the role one more time. But for a long while, there’s been a rumor that Englund’s career could have been very different.
Longtime Hollywood gossip says that he auditioned for Han Solo in Star Wars. But now, in an interview with Fantha Tracks, he’s set the record straight. First of all, he explains that everybody gets this story wrong. He did indeed meet with George Lucas during the casting for the 1977 classic, but he never specifically auditioned as Han.
In fact, he only met Lucas as he was in the building to audition for a role in Apocalypse Now. The two films were casting at the same time in the same location, so Englund popped into the Star Wars room to see if he’d be a good fit for any character in the film.
“I wasn’t right for anything,” said the actor. “They didn’t think I fit, but they took my photo. They took a Polaroid of me and they talked to me for five minutes. I later on discovered that Tom Selleck or somebody like Tom Selleck had turned them down for Han Solo. I’ve read all sorts of names including his in connection with Han Solo. My understanding is that in the very early drafts, he wasn’t even human. Solo was some sort of alien… I presumed, I say presumed, that they took my Polaroid for Han Solo. I didn’t read. I didn’t read any script. They just took my picture and talked to me for a few minutes.”
But despite not being in the movie, Englund would indeed go on to shape the entire course of the saga. While reading through the roles, he realized that Luke Skywalker sounded like a great fit for his roommate at the time, one Mark Hamill.
“I came home. Mark’s laying on the couch, watching TV, and I told him because Mark loved American Graffiti and George Lucas, too. I just told Mark about this new George Lucas movie – that’s all. Mark got on the phone and called his agent.”
And boom: history was made. Without Englund’s involvement, Hamill might never have gotten the memo about Star Wars, we’d have a completely different Luke Skywalker and the course of the following movies would probably have been quite different.
Here’s Englund summing it up:
“That’s the story. I was not up for Han Solo, and I wasn’t up for Luke Skywalker. I was in the office for five minutes over there, but I did come home and tell Mark about it, he called his agent, and the rest is history.”
If you’re hungry for more of the horror icon, you can check him out in True Terror with Robert Englund, beginning March 8th on the Travel Channel.