She was the girl who battled back against one of cinemas most vile creations. She cracked the Freddy code and brought him out of her dreams and then came back to finish him off. She made white streaks cool and sacrificed herself for the Dream Warriors. Her character of Nancy remains one of horror’s greatest heroes – smashing stereotypes and striped jumpers along the way. Give it up for Heather Langenkamp!
Born on July 17th 1964 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Langenkamp’s first acting venture was in her late teens when she landed a small role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders (1983), and Rumble Fish (1983) which were both filmed in her hometown of Tulsa. Unfortunately her scenes were cut out of both of the final films.
“I’m not rich or famous, and it doesn’t bother me.”
Langenkamp later starred in Nickel Mountain (1984) which gained mostly positive reviews. While she was studying at Stanford University, Langenkamp rose to prominence when Wes Craven cast her as teen heroine Nancy Thompson in the hugely successful A Nightmare on Elm Street, the first film in the series as he wanted someone very ‘non-Hollywood’ to play Nancy. He believed that Langenkamp met this quality. For the part she beat out more than 200 actresses and helped introduce the world to the (soon-to-be) iconic villain Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund.
Cast alongside with Johnny Depp as Glen Lantz, in his feature film debut, Langenkamp can lay claim to being his first on screen girlfriend; John Saxon who played her onscreen father, police lieutenant Donald Thompson.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was both a critical and commercial success, earning a total of $25 million at the American box office. In 1985, she received the Best Actress Award at the Avoriaz Film Festival for this role. Many critics praised Langenkamp’s role as Nancy due to the smart and independent nature of the character that made her different from most heroines in horror films released at the time. Langenkamp reprised her role as Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), in which she co-starred alongside Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne.
In between Elm Street, she played Marie Lubbock on the television series Just the Ten of Us, which received critical acclaim and has gained a cult following. It was a spin-off of the popular situation comedy Growing Pains (on which Langenkamp guest-starred), from 1988 to 1990. That same year, she and her castmates were nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor/Actress Ensemble in a Television Comedy, Drama Series or Special. She has also made numerous other guest appearances on television. In 1989, she had a cameo role as a victim in Wes Craven’s Shocker.
In 1994, Langenkamp returned to the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise when she starred as herself in the critically and commercially successful film Wes Craven’s New Nightmare alongside Robert Englund. Although New Nightmare is the seventh film in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, it is not part of the series continuity, instead portraying Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain who invades the real world and haunts the cast and crew responsible for his films. While the canon Nightmare on Elm Street films are about dreams overlapping reality, this film is about films overlapping reality. In this film, Freddy is depicted as closer to what Craven originally intended, being more menacing and less comical, with an updated attire and appearance. Over the years, New Nightmare has often been referred to as the prelude to Scream, which went on to become a huge success.
“I do like acting, but it is just something that I do on the side, being rich and famous is not a priority for me. I have my husband, my kids, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my home and enough money. I don’t need to be this rich and famous millionaire actress, I am quite happy with what I have and I can’t think of anything that might be lacking from my life”.
Nowadays, Langenkamp and her husband, David Leroy Anderson, own and operate AFX Studio, a Special F/X Make-Up firm that is credited with the special make-up for many successful films such as Dawn of the Dead, The Cabin in the Woods,Cinderella Man, Dogtown and Z-Boys, Frost/Nixon, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Dragonfly and Angels and Demons. She also starred in, executive produced, and narrated the 2010 documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, which was directed by Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch.
In 2010, Langenkamp made her documentary entitled I Am Nancy, which was a critical success. I Am Nancy focused on Langenkamp’s role as Nancy from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
In 2012, Langenkamp was cast in The Butterfly Room. The following year, Langenkamp had a supporting role in the film, Star Trek Into Darkness which was critically and commercially successful. In 2014, Heather had a cameo appearance in season four of the horror anthology series American Horror Story. She is set to star in the upcoming movies, Home (2015) and Getting the Kinks Out (2015). On September 22, 2015 it was revealed that Langenkamp, along with AFX Studio, is behind the special effects for Scream Queens.