Johnny Depp launched his movie career with Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street. The late, great Wes Craven wrote and directed the 1984 film and drew on a number of influences while creating the iconic Freddy Krueger. The initial idea came from a series of articles about people dying in their sleep with no explanation, particularly one chilling account of a teenager trying desperately to stay awake and dying shortly after falling asleep.
While creating A Nightmare On Elm Street's Freddy, Craven drew on a childhood memory of watching a drunken man from a window, who noticed the young Craven and stared back to frighten him. The director figured an early fear of mankind would be of bears and other wild animals, so Freddy's razor finger glove invokes an animal's claw. His red and green sweater came from another article revealing those colors are difficult for the human eye to process together, making the killer a painful optical effect. Initially, Craven wanted Freddy to be older and sought to cast character actor David Warner (The Omen), but when this fell through Robert Englund was cast for the dark energy he brought during an audition.
As for Johnny Deep Nightmare On Elm Street was the young actor's first movie role. Producers initially sought Charlie Sheen (Two And A Half Men) for the part of Glen Lantz, the boyfriend of lead character Nancy, but his salary was more than the low budget production could afford. Glen was written to be more of a jock character, but it was Craven's teenage daughter who vouched for Depp's star quality.
For most of A Nightmare On Elm Street, Depp's character tries to act as a voice of reason, arguing Freddy couldn't possibly exist. His character finds out the hard way Freddy Krueger is very real when he accidentally falls asleep and the slasher sucks him down into his own bed. A torrent of blood is soon unleashed from the bed, covering the whole room in gore. There was originally more to this scene, with Glen's lifeless body floating back out of the hole and dropping to the bed, but this was cut. Another deleted scene revealed Freddy broke a finger off his glove so it would be found on Glen's body as a taunting message for Nancy's sheriff father.
Depp would soon land roles in Platoon and TV series 21 Jump Street, launching his career. He would return to the Nightmare franchise for a tongue-in-cheek cameo in 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Craven also wanted him to make a cameo as himself in 1994's New Nightmare but couldn't work up the courage to ask - Depp later said he would have appeared if asked. Following Craven's passing in 2015, the actor paid tribute to the director for giving him his first break in A Nightmare On Elm Street and setting him on the road to stardom.