We know him best as Freddy Krueger, but tonight Robert Englund takes on a new role when he joins the “Lake Placid” franchise as a member of the Bickerman family in the Syfy original movie “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter,” premiering tonight at 9 p.m.
Bickerman is a poacher, looking to score a big break on hides and eggs from those rare crocs in Black Lake, especially since attempts to contain the giant crocs fail and now it’s up to the new Sheriff (Elizabeth Rohm) to stop the latest rampage.
Here is what Englund has to say about his latest project for Syfy:
How you became involved with the project?
Every boy has to fight his giant snake, his killer bees, and when they called me to fight giant alligators, you know, I signed up.
I was at a premiere for a film in Barcelona with my wife and all I had was a tuxedo, a dress suit, a couple of shirts, and a couple of pairs of underwear when I got the call for “Lake Placid.” So I went directly from Barcelona, with hardly any luggage, to Sofia, Bulgaria.
There is a lake just outside the capital of Bulgaria, that has the exact same kind of geological features as Maine. It’s got that rocky shoreline and the same kind of pine trees. It’s amazing, I was looking around for lobster rolls it looked so much like Maine.
We worked real hard, real long days, because we were losing Indian Summer. We had a little bit of Indian Summer in the beginning, and it started getting pretty cold. We were all on the water all the time. Because that’s where the gators are, but, it was really fun.
What about Jim Bickerman as a character appealed to you?
I’ve seen all of the Lake Placids, and I think they’re a lot of fun. I think one of the things that attracted me .. there’s the element of horror, but there’s also that little bit of disorientation about there being freshwater alligators in Maine, which is a great kind of hook.
But there’s always also been room for a little bit of comedy, and a little bit of over the top in them. Because, after all, in essence, it is a giant alligator story.
I played roles like this when I was much younger. I played a lot of rednecks, and a lot of white trash, and a lot of sidekicks. I wanted to be for many years … Strother Martin, who rides down the mountainside with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, or Strother Martin, who tells Cool Hand Luke that what we have here is a problem of communication.
And I wanted to be LQ Jones who steals a scene from Robert DeNiro in “Casino,” and who is in all those movies like “The Wild Bunch.” And I wanted to be Warren Oates. I did a little bit of that in the ’70s when I was young. But I quickly became the best friend, the sidekick, and the nerd. This was before I had done any science fiction or horror, and I was sort of typed as that for a while.
So it’s fun now, in my early 60s, it’s fun for me to return now to those roles. With the lines in my face, my gray beard, and my balding hairline. It’s fun to get to play those roles again, because they come kind of easy to me.
Jim Beckerman for me was like the poor country cousin who was left out of the will, you know, and he’s trying to get his piece of the action. And I almost imagine him coming up from Kentucky or somewhere to Maine, and he’s sort of always been the embarrassment of the family, and he’s up there poaching gators, you know, as a side line and making some money.
Do you believe it will really be the last chapter?
I don’t know. My theory is that there’s something really subliminal, like spiders and snakes, and alligators and sharks, that really does frighten us. It’s a certain kind of pop culture that we’ve decided to embrace. There is just something nervous-in-the-stomach scary about crocodiles. About how fast they are, about how big they are, about how fast they move. Like sharks, like spiders, like snakes, I just think it’s a great villain.
So that’s why I think it’s successful. Whether or not they’ll make another one, I don’t know. It might be that after this one they re-think the franchise a little bit. What they might mean by “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter,” is that maybe those beasts are going to get out of Lake Placid. Maybe they’ll wind up in Boston or maybe they’ll migrate south.
“Lake Placid: The Final Chapter,” premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Syfy.