Wes Craven, the man who made Freddy Krueger a household name in A Nightmare On Elm Street, has died at the age of 76. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Craven died Sunday from brain cancer.
Craven started in movies in 1972 with The Last House On the Left, a movie about a pair of girls who are kidnapped by some disturbed ex-cons. Wes continued in the horror genre with movies such as The Hills Have Eyes and Swamp Thing. He hit the box office bonanza when A Nightmare On Elm Street was released in 1984. The movie also served as the kick start to Johnny Depp’s career as it was his first big screen gig. Although Freddy appeared in a slew of Nightmare movies following the original movie’s success, Craven wasn’t part of the series. Craven told The Village Voice last year that he let actor Robert Englund run with the Freddy Krueger character and the results were great.
“I always encouraged him to make [Freddy] his own. In fact, from casting on, I realized the power of that man. He was ready, and enthusiastic about exploring that persona in a way that came from his own imagination, as well as mine. The physicality of the character, for instance, was not necessarily on the page; much of it was was Robert experimenting and improvising based on a theme.
Wes then moved on to his Scream series that made fun of horror movies. The movies featured established stars such as Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, and Neve Campbell. The series had four movies, the most recent of which was released in 2011 and was the last movie Craven directed. Cox tweeted her thoughts on Craven’s death on Sunday night.
Craven was more than just a horror writer and director. He directed Meryl Streep in the drama Music of the Heart. Streep would win an Academy award for her role in the movie. Streep told Entertainment Weekly back in 1999 how Craven begged her to come star in the movie.
“Never in my life had I gotten a letter like this from a director. He told me, ‘I’ve waited 20 years to tell a story like this,’ and I was seduced by his passion.”
Craven even dabbled in acting, appearing in all four of the Scream films as different characters.
Wes Craven died in his home in Los Angeles.
[Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]