By David Bronstein
I recently had the chance to interview Ken Sagoes, who played Kincaid in both A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors and then its sequel a year later, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master.
For the third trip down Elm Street the makers shifted the scenario from the street itself to Westin Hills- a psychiatric hospital housing not one or two kids affected by recurring dreams of Freddy Krueger but a whole group. And while each character was terrified of Krueger each came equipped with their own super powers in their dreams. The movie was a huge success with fans and critics alike.
How did you get into the movie business?
I was born a few miles outside Atlanta, Georgia. I moved to LA after my studies and my first job was as a security guard at Universal Studios, I was what you called a walking post guard. This meant I would sit at a post on the hour but then had to walk around the lot every other hour. I met some wonderful people that looked after me there, you get connected that way.
You’re known as the guy who played Kincaid in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies; tell me about the audition process for this role.
For Part 3, The Dream Warriors it was a large audition. From the breakdown that I was given of Kincaid I never felt that I was right for it, so I really didn't go in thinking that I had a chance. There were a lot of things going on with me the day of the audition. It was raining outside and I was on the bus, and I had to go and pay for a traffic ticket which was the last day that I could do that, just nothing seemed to be going right. So I did something you should never do, I went in the audition with a bad attitude. It turned out that's what they were looking for, a young kid with a bad attitude.
Had you seen the other Nightmare on Elm Street movies before?
I had not seen the original movie or Part 2. It was not a requirement, and once I had the job I did not view the movies either. It wasn't meant as disrespect to the movies or actors in those but I just wanted to bring my style in there without the influence of the first two movies. Once we finished filming Part 3 I went home and watched them.
Nightmare 3 has some familiar faces that would go on to play in A list movies. How was it like to work with Laurence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette?
When I met Laurence he became a mentor to me on the set. He taught me how to do physical acting, I never forgot him for that. I even remember my first words to him, 'Yes so I don't have to look at your ugly face all the time'. He was great to work with and I hope and wish I can work with him again. Patricia was a joy, she wasn't just a great actress off the set she was a great friend. She helped me one day, and I will never forget that.
Chuck Russell was brought in to direct the movie, what was your relationship like working with him?
Chuck was a great director for me. It's true that at times he was a little hard but it was nothing personal. He talked to us about our characters. Some of the things that Kincaid said were because Chuck asked me what a black guy would say in that situation. He allowed Kincaid to have freedom to make the character more real without disrespecting the writer's work. Being a writer myself, I am a big fan in giving the writer the respect of his creative words that they have put on paper for us.
You were the first black guy to star in and help defeat Freddy Krueger and you returned for a sequel.
I didn't have a clue about that until years later. I heard some people and some friends talk about that (returning for a sequel). But you know if you count the Blaxpolitation films which were in the 70s I cannot overlook 'Blacula' . They made two of those films and the role was played by the great William Marshall. I can't say that I was the first to survive and return for a sequel. But when you talk about a major international film, that's where I am the first. And I am honored it makes me feel great. I have had so many people reach out to me and tell me what it meant to them back in the day. I wished I was wise enough to have understood it then. But I was still growing.
Part 3 deals with a group of kids that have sleep problems, out of that group which character were you close to?
Rodney Eastman who played Joey. Kincaid and Joey seemed to be very close, and I tried to play it that way. In Part 4 if you watch the locker scene that is a great example, you can really see how close they are. I liked how Joey died ( after being tricked by a naked woman who turns out to be Freddy in the waterbed in Part 4) as far as I'm concerned he died in heaven, I mean at least he thought he was going to get him some.
Robert Englund who of course played the iconic Freddy Krueger seemed to be at the height of his powers by the third film.
Robert Englund is a great guy and friend; he was like the big brother to us all. I had seen V and was a fan of Robert's work. When Robert stepped on the set as Freddy he had created a character that took over and Freddy became Robert not Robert becoming Freddy. If you watch the movies closely you will see that he enjoyed his work as an artist, he loved his work and he did it well. When the director said cut, Robert released Freddy. I say for an up and coming actor which is what I was at the time you should watch the masters, that is what Robert was.
You seemed to have a great time on the set of Dream Warriors, but was there any one scene you disliked?
I do remember the scene towards the end of the movie in the hot basement with Freddy the scene where I hit him with the pipe, that basement seemed like hell. It was so hot in there and I was just anxious to finish that segment.
Film critic Leonard Maltin, usually harsh with horror films gave Dream Warriors three stars out of four and called it the best Nightmare movie.
I think (the success of the film is) because there was something in there for everybody to relate to. You had so many different personalities; Dream Warriors reached a point where Freddy was not going to get them without a fight. They were heroes and each person in the audience could not just watch them, but they put themselves in their roles. It was also a beautiful script, everyone in the movie
Ken Sagoes currently is raising funds for his new project 'The Secret Weapon' with Indiegogo. If you’re interested head over there and contribute to a great cause. There are plenty of incentives to do once pledged. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-secret-weapon