Robert Englund is best known for his portrayal of Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" film series. (I saw him, and he stuck in my mind, as Whitey in his first film, the awful 1974 hick-trauma saga "Buster and Billie," which of course we saw at the drive-in.) Englund, a classically trained actor, has brought a strong, complex, and even . . . sympathetic? . . . charm to the part. Like the Golden Age horror actors, he gives this and other roles a combination of watchability, gravitas, and just enough distancing to give the role of fillip of ironic humor. It seems to that, unlike other typecast actors who bemoan their fates, Englund has retained a healthy sense of balance, using his niche fame to enable him to do the projects he's interested in, building a satisfying career.
Laird Cregar seems an odd choice for this list, as his career was so short. However, in four specific films – as the obsessed Inspector Cornell in “I Wake Up Screaming,” as the fussy villain Willard Gates in “This Gun for Hire,” the demonic Mr. Slade in “The Lodger,” and the doomed protagonist composer George Harvey Bone in “Hangover Square,” he made a great impression. Another classically trained actor with maturity and presence far beyond his years, the tortured undertones to his villainous roles are exquisite! Unfortunately, the fairly bulky Cregar went on a crash diet for “Hangover Square” to assume a svelter outline onscreen. It caused his death by heart attack on Dec. 9, 1944, two months before his final film’s premiere. It is tantalizing to imagine what other great roles he could have filled!