Bela Lugosi is the actor most closely associated with Count Dracula, but he is certainly not the only one. More than 200 others have played old toothy over the years including mister tall, dark and gruesome Christopher Lee, who played the blood sucker eleven times.
Ditto Frankenstein’s Monster. Boris Karloff owned the role in 1931, but 60 other actors have tried to fill his size fifteen platform shoes in subsequent years.
The point is, no actor has total possession over a role, no matter how well known they are for playing it.
Just ask Robert Englund.
For 26 years, he has been Freddy Krueger, purveyor of bad dreams, in The Nightmare on Elm Street series. In seven films and the television series, Freddy’s Nightmares, he played the evil offspring of a nun and one hundred maniacs. His take on the character is so loved some people even pay permanent tribute to it.
“I saw an entire magazine of Freddy Krueger tattoos,” he says. “There are thousands of people walking around America with my tattoo on them!”
He’ll always be associated with Freddy, but as of this weekend his run as the most hated man in Springwood, Ohio comes to an end when Jackie Earle Haley makes the iconic role his own in the reboot of the series.
Ironically, Haley auditioned for one of the teen roles in the original film in 1984 but the part went to his friend Johnny Depp.
As for taking on the role, Haley says, “A lot of people wish it was Robert and I get that. He’s made this character iconic and he’s iconic as well. It’s a tough thing, and hopefully when the movie comes out people will dig it.”
Haley is just the latest to fill in for a famous face. Recently, Benicio Del Toro donned the lupine face mask of the Wolf Man, but Lon Chaney Jr. (who had yak hair glued to his face during his 1941 transformation scenes) originated the role 70 years before.
Chaney is best known as The Wolf Man, but he was also one of those actors who stepped in to sub for some of the most famous monsters of filmland. In fact, he is also the only actor to have played all four of the classic movie monsters: The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein, the Mummy in The Mummy’s Tomb and Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula’s son, in the appropriately named Son of Dracula.
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