Producing nine films to date, the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has played host to many future stars, including Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette. Debuting in 1984, the Wes Craven-created Nightmare on Elm Street property would quickly blossom into one of the biggest pop culture hits of the 1980s, turning Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund into a horror icon along the way. A Nightmare on Elm Street served as a jolt of excitement to the slasher genre, trading a silent, masked killer for a cruelly charismatic dream demon.
However, while the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise effectively ensured that Robert Englund will be a hit on the horror convention circuit until the end of time, he wasn't the only actor to receive a career boost from appearing in the series. Along the way, multiple future stars faced off against Freddy before moving on to become big Hollywood names in their own right. Here's a rundown of the notables who in some cases met their demise at the hands of Freddy's infamous glove.
Johnny Depp as Glen, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Current personal controversies aside, Johnny Depp is undoubtedly one of the most popular actors in recent memory, but years before he captained the Black Pearl as Pirates of the Caribbean's Jack Sparrow, Depp made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depp played Glen Lantz, boyfriend to lead heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), and the last victim claimed by Freddy in the movie. Ostensibly a jock, Glen defied 1980s jock stereotypes, showing genuine concern for Nancy and a surprisingly thoughtful mentality. Sadly, that didn't stop him from being dragged into his bed by Freddy and emerging as a fountain of blood.
Patricia Arquette as Kristen, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Patricia Arquette made her film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, leading the titular Freddy-fighting group as Kristen Parker. Kristen possessed the power to pull others into her dreams, and proved the deciding factor in Freddy's (temporary) defeat. Arquette would go on to fame in films like True Romance and Lost Highway, as well as starring in the long-running supernatural procedural Medium. While Kristen returned and was killed off in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Arquette didn't come back, so she never personally felt Freddy's wrath.
Laurence Fishburne as Max, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Long before he became a pop culture icon playing Morpheus in The Matrix trilogy, Fishburne appeared in the small role of kindly mental hospital orderly Max. Notably, Max was one of the few adults shown to be kind to the Dream Warriors during their stay at Westin Hills, and clearly cared about their well-being. While Max grows skeptical of Nancy Thompson, it's only because he fears for the safety of those placed in his care, and right after Nancy showed up, people started dying. Sadly, Max got no showdown with Freddy, and Fishburne wouldn't return to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
Breckin Meyer as Spencer, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Still constantly working today, Breckin Meyer made one of his first screen appearances as Spencer in Freddy's Dead, a stoner who ends up killed by Freddy's "power glove" after being turned into a video game character. A few years later, Meyer would gain widespread fame in the teen comedy Clueless, and has never really looked back. Meyer has since gone on to star in the 2000 comedy Road Trip, the Garfield live-action movies (which while panned, made lots of money), voice Joseph Gribble on King of the Hill, star in the legal comedy Franklin & Bash, and recur on political thriller Designated Survivor.
Rooney Mara as Nancy, A Nightmare on Elm Street
While 2010's A Nightmare on Elm Street remake has quickly faded into obscurity, it served as the initial launching pad for Rooney Mara, who's twice since been nominated for an Oscar. Mara isn't exactly a favorite of franchise fans, as she's been clear in the years afterward that she really didn't want to star in the remake, and only did it because she thought it might help her career progression. Still, her success since can't be denied, including in films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol, and A Ghost Story.