While Johnny Depp was willing to reprise his role for a sequel, unfortunately, viewers missed out on this cameo due to an unlikely issue. As a director, Wes Craven was never short of nerve. The horror legend made his mark in the genre with and , a pair of bleak, unsparing 70s exploitation movies that hid sharp social commentary under a lot of tense set-pieces, gruesome gore, and hopelessly dark plot twists.
Over the decades, Craven continued to redefine the horror genre with franchise-spawning slasher masterpieces like as well as more outré fare such as and . However, Craven’s unfailing nerve was shaken at one unexpected point in his illustrious career. Luckily, this didn’t deprive viewers of a horror classic. However, Craven’s uncertainty did mean that horror fans missed out on a potentially memorable scene that never made it into the series despite the director’s ambitious plans.
When Craven began developing the meta-sequel , a reboot of the t franchise, he wanted to bring back most of the original movie’s cast. Heather Langenkamp returned in the finished movie, while Craven played a parody of himself. Most impressively, Robert Englund pulled double duty by playing a redesigned, even scarier version of ’s Freddy Krueger while also simultaneously playing a campy, self-interested parody of himself in . However, Johnny Depp didn’t appear as himself in since Craven never asked him to return to the series, assuming that the rising star would be too busy.
Craven presumed that, since Depp had become an A-list star after appearing in the original, he wouldn’t have the time to play a role in . However, on ’s DVD commentary, Craven admitted he had been wrong. The star of the met Craven after the movie debuted and said that he would have loved to play a self-parody in if the director had only asked. Sadly, Craven opted not to bother the star and, as such, genre fans missed out on this appearance. To make matters worse, Depp did film a much weaker cameo.
Depp did appear in , playing a parody of himself. However, this messy, disjointed sequel was famously a tonal disaster, and Depp’s supposedly comedic cameo highlights this issue. In one of the many inexplicable , Depp plays himself in a parody of a DARE-style anti-drug advert. After Depp does the standard “” shtick, Freddy appears and bashes the star over the head with a frying pan.
If that sounds cartoonish and un-scary, that is because it is. The cameo is one of many ill-judged moments in e, a sequel that leaned hard into the fantasy and comedy elements of the series. While this was not necessarily a major issue in itself, also effectively abandoned any attempts at serious scares, resulting in a movie that was too silly to be scary but not funny enough to be a full-blown parody. In contrast, parodied the serieswhile keeping its scares deadly serious.
Even without Depp’s presence, is a testament to Craven’s ingenuity. The reboot works both as a straightforward slasher and as a savage satire of Hollywood, with Craven’s characters explicitly discussing how much money the franchise has made and how little its creative qualities matter to studio executives. While the movies fused slasher tropes with self-aware characters, entered into trippier territory by seeing the horror director and his stars play fictionalized versions of themselves.
While might have been too weird for mainstream acclaim, it soon became a cult classic. is still considered one of the scariest versions of the villain and the movie acted as an effective dry run for Craven’s hugely acclaimed blockbuster series. As such, losing out on Johnny Depp's appearance didn’t doom the successful sequel in the long run.