Casting Johnny Depp In A Nightmare On Elm Street Came Down To Wes Craven's Daughters

Wes Craven is considered one of the pioneers of the horror genre. Responsible for not only one genre-defining franchise ("A Nightmare on Elm Street") but two ("Scream"), Craven's work on scary movies cannot be discounted.

Of course, 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was perhaps Craven's greatest hit, achieving huge success even with a limited theater release. The first appearance of the terrifying dream hopper Freddy Kreuger, the movie was praised for its use of its small-town setting and the new monster myth it created. Freddy was so terrifying he wasn't only giving viewers nightmares; he was giving his actors nightmares. It was a comeback for Craven after some of his weaker film efforts, and it kickstarted a huge franchise all its own.

Not only did "Elm Street" give Craven's career a shot in the arm, but it also gave Johnny Depp his first big break. Depp played Glen, the boyfriend of the film's protagonist, Nancy. Glen is one of the many victims of Freddy Kreuger, who gets tormented in his dreams by the horrifying figure but refuses to tell anybody or try to stay awake to avoid Freddie's wrath. It was a solid role for Depp and kicked off his long and illustrious career.

But Depp didn't earn the role based purely on his acting ability. According to an interview, Craven took a chance on Depp for the role because his daughters pushed for him.

Making his daughters happy

In the interview, Craven discusses how he decided to cast Depp as Nancy's boyfriend.

"Part of it was having a daughter who was 14 at the time. When I was casting for the role of [Nancy's boyfriend] Glen, just by quirk Johnny Depp came in. His friend had a role of coroner who later got cut out of the film.There are times when you're not really ahead of things, but my daughter was. I had the quarterback, the surfer-looking guy, and I had a picture of Johnny Depp that I happened to toss into the car and showed my daughter and her friend. I put the three pictures on the table and asked them which they liked best for Glen and they instantly pointed to Johnny. I asked why, he had greasy hair and nicotine stains! They both said because he was beautiful. So I was smart enough to say OK."

Craven's daughters turned out to have good instincts, as Depp would go on to have a long career as an alternative heartthrob for teenage girls in the '80s and adult domestic abuse apologists in the 2020s alike. When it comes to casting cute teen boys, there simply is no better resource than teen girls. Craven listening to his daughters on the matter led not only to an extremely successful film, but Depp's storied career. So, it actually may have been a huge mistake after all.