Johnny Depp famously made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, but he returned later on for a crazy cameo in Freddy's Dead, and here's why. Long before Depp became an A-list Hollywood superstar - and even further before he became a controversial figure due to his contentious divorce from Amber Heard - he debuted on the big screen as Glen Lantz, the surprisingly sensitive jock boyfriend to original Nightmare on Elm Street heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp).
Unfortunately for Depp, Glen wouldn't make it out of A Nightmare on Elm Street alive, ending up the last victim claimed by nocturnal boogeyman Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) before Nancy turned the tables on the dream stalker. Depp's Glen died harshly too, being pulled into his own bed by Freddy, then emerging only as a massive outpouring of blood from the Krueger-created hole. Naturally, Glen's parents didn't react to this development well. If only Glen had listened to Nancy when she warned him not to fall asleep.
Since his character was killed off, and Johnny Depp of course went on to skyrocket to fame not long after the film released, nobody really expected him to make a return to Elm Street. Yet, in 1991's Freddy's Dead, aka A Nightmare on Elm Street 6, Depp did just that, even being credited under a fake name to preserve the surprise for fans. As future Freddy victim Spencer (Breckin Meyer) sits watching TV while stoned, Depp appears in a quick but bizarre cameo that sees the actor parody the popular "this is your brain on drugs" commercials from the time. It's a brief scene, but a memorable one, and can be watched below.
Why Johnny Depp Cameoed in Nightmare on Elm Street 6
One might be inclined to believe Johnny Depp returned to cameo in A Nightmare on Elm Street 6 simply out of gratitude for the original film launching his acting career, but that's not necessarily the case, at least not entirely. It turns out that the reason Depp made his odd cameo is because Freddy's Dead director Rachel Talalay asked him for a favor. Talalay had recently produced the John Waters film Cry-Baby, in which Depp starred. Based on that existing relationship, she contacted Depp and asked him to appear, and he agreed. In Hollywood, it really is often about who one knows.
Why Johnny Depp Didn't Cameo in Nightmare on Elm Street 7
Interestingly enough, while Freddy's Dead was indeed intended to end the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, original creator Wes Craven would return to direct 1994's New Nightmare. A meta slasher years before Craven's own Scream would become a hit, New Nightmare starred actors from the series as themselves, and brought Freddy into the "real world." Heather Langenkamp plays the lead, and ends up facing a much darker version of Nancy's old nemesis. In one funeral scene, multiple actors from prior Elm Street installments appear as themselves, although Johnny Depp isn't among them. According to the late Craven, he wanted to include Depp, but was too intimidated to ask, as the actor had only continued to rise in stature since Freddy's Dead. Amusingly, Depp confirmed after the film's release that he would've been happy to take part.