as: Freddy Krueger
I know what you’re thinking: “Tom Wopat as the villain? Surely you jest!” Well, I don’t jest, and don’t call me Shirley. I’ll admit it seems highly unlikely, and it might be hard to buy him in such a role—who would believe that Wopat could be capable of such evilness? But, if there’s any classic horror villain/monster that could benefit from being Wopatized, it’s Freddy Krueger.
In this case, Wopat’s character would be well-served by the all-encompassing makeup. No one as good looking as Tom Wopat would ever fly as a Freddy Krueger-type bad guy; in order for this particular villain to be his most villainous, he’s got to be butt ugly. So, no worries on covering up Wopat’s handsome mug.
The character himself is a good mix of menace and humor, which would play to Wopat’s strengths as a thespian. I can’t necessarily say I’ve seen him play “menacing” anywhere, but he’s a good enough actor that he could pull it off—it’s not like it’s a particularly complex role, really. And, though the character’s demented sense of humor became more prominent in each successive sequel in the expansive franchise, he’s still plenty funny in the first flick. Wopat is, of course, a more than capable comic actor, and one that could undoubtedly find the right amount of wicked snark with which to infuse his line readings.
When A Nightmare on Elm Street debuted in 1984, it was an immediate commercial success, making roughly double its production budget at the box office in its first week of release, despite its cast of (then) unknowns. Meanwhile, Tom Wopat was in the midst of his first heyday, playing Luke Duke on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard. With an established star like Wopat in Nightmare’s starring role, and playing so drastically against type, who knows what kind of business the flick would’ve done?
I’m gonna make an educated guesstimate and say it would’ve pulled in about $15 billion dollars (not adjusted for inflation). And Wopat would, of course reprise the role in the still-ongoing sequels and remakes (we refuse to use the term “reboot,” because it’s stupid), which would, in turn, bring in billions at the box office, making Tom Wopat the wealthiest private citizen in the northern hemisphere.
If I remember my Elm Street sequels correctly, there’s some reference to the origin of Freddy’s knife-fingered glove in Freddy’s Dead (Part 6), in which Alice Cooper plays Freddy’s dad (something like that?). References to the origin of Freddy himself are sprinkled throughout the series, but are not entirely consistent across the many sequels.
In the Wopatized Elm Street series, both “origin stories” would be fleshed out in the first film, just to get ‘em out of the way. He’d still be a child-murdering serial killer, and he’d still get attacked and burned to death by the parents of the kids he slaughtered (feel-good hit of the summer, right there). However, instead of being a janitor at the Springwood Elementary School (we think that’s right, anyway—it makes sense, since he’d be around very murderable kids all the time, but we can’t remember for sure), he works in a metalworking factory.
It’s there that we see Freddy Wopat creating his famous glove, using a wire EDM machine to fashion its razor-sharp, curved blades. He’d have to go a little more out of his way to find his victims, but the glove makes more sense that way. How would a janitor have the ability to create such a fiendish device?
Ultimately, the vengeful parents would hunt Freddy down at the factory instead of the school’s boiler room, as in the original version of the tale. Rather than intentionally burning the whole building down with Freddy inside, one of the parents would kind-of-sort-of-accidentally shove him into the EDM machine. The machine’s high-powered cutting electrode would blast Freddy in the face, killing him in a very painful fashion and leaving him with the grotesque all-over scarring he sports throughout the series.