'Nightmare' finds its new Freddy Krueger

Jackie Earle Haley signs on for horror remake

Jackie Earle Haley is the new Freddy Krueger.

The actor will star as the iconic screen villain in New Line's redo of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," taking over the role that was played by Robert Englund.

The original "Nightmare," released in 1984, helped establish New Line and spawned a slew of movies. Krueger is a serial child killer murdered by angry parents who returns to terrorize teens in their dreams.

Krueger's burned face, his razor glove and his red-and-green sweater became instantly recognizable images as well as popular Halloween costumes.

Samuel Bayer is directing the relaunch, which was written by Wesley Strick. The pic starts lensing May 5 in Chicago.

Platinum Dunes' Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing. John Rickard is co-producing. Richard Brener, Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter are overseeing for New Line.

The role would cap a whirlwind couple of years for Haley, who made a splash in the 1970s as a child star in movies like "The Bad News Bears" then faded in the early 1990s. He left the business, and wound up working odd jobs in Texas.

Haley burst back on the scene in 2006 playing a pedophile in Todd Field's "Little Children," and also appeared in "Semi-Pro" with Will Ferrell, both for New Line, and indie drama "Winged Creature." He was praised for his portrayal of Rorschach in the recent "Watchmen" and next appears in Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island."

"Looking at his performance in 'Watchmen,' here's a guy playing a character under a mask yet you feel tremendous empathy for him," said Bayer of the actor. "And in Nightmare,' he is going to be under prosthetic make-up. You have to feel something for the character. The greatest villains are multi-dimensional and I think he will bring that to the character."

Bayer, who called this take of Krueger "Nosferatu meets Ed Gaines," is not afraid that Hayley is in any danger of being typecast the way Englund was. "It's what you bring to the material. He's a well-rounded actor who will not be stereotyped by this. If anything, he'll be celebrated for it."

The actor had been one of several actors on the shortlist to play the part. But scheduling  issues almost scotched the deal. Haley, repped by CAA and Leslie Allan-Rice Management, is also working on TV series "Human Target," which led to conflicting dates.