Quantcast Ken Sagoes interview - A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS

Ken Sagoes!!!

Anyone out there that grew up with the Nightmare On Elm Street series probably has fond memories of Part 3, The Dream Warriors. For me, it introduced me to my all time favorite Nightmare character, Roland Kincaid played by actor Ken Sagoes. Ken returned as Kincaid in Nightmare On Elm Street 4: the Dream Master as one of Freddy's first victims. Despite his early demise in 4, Nightmare fans all know that he's one of the few characters to go up against Freddy and survive for a sequel. Perhaps Freddy will bump into him again in hell? We're proud to share with you our FRIGHT exclusive interview with Kincaid himself, Ken Sagoes!!! - by Robg. 11/06

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? Do you remember some of the first films to really scare you?

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘THE BIRDS’. And also, The Mummy. Those were my first memories. And I remember a movie called ‘Blacula’. (laughs) I was really young and my step-mom was watching a movie on television and it was ‘Blacula’.
So, you saw some of the early Universal movies like ‘The Mummy’ and Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. Would you say that you were a fan of the horror genre as a kid?

I was neither yay or nay for it. If I had a date, then I would go see a horror film. (laughs) But I wouldn’t go by myself. I was not a HUGE horror film fan.

Can you tell us a bit how you got interested in acting? When did you first become aware of the process of how films were made?

First of all, I’m originally from Atlanta. But I came out here (to LA) and got a job at Universal studios as a security guard. I got a chance to meet a lot of people. I actually met Alfred Hitchcock when I was very young. I got a chance to talk with him for 10 or so minutes when I was on the lot, and also I saw Vincent Price on the lot. But I got to talk with Hitchcock BEFORE he made his transition. What I would do, as a security guard, I would always find my way into the sound stages so I could watch different actors do their work. Those were my earlier days. Watching the pros really do their work.
What was one of the first things you did acting-wise?

Hmm… It was a movie with Jonathan Winters and I played a police man, I remember that being one of the first things I did. Then, I got lucky and got another role, which was a role with Denzel Washington in a film called ‘The George McKenna Story’.

How’d you get the role of “Roland Kincaid” in Nightmare On Elm Street 3? Did you just go in on an audition?

It was really a fluke. I had just finished that role with Denzel Washington, and I didn’t have a car. Well, I had a car, but it was broken down at the time. But I had had some tickets that I had to go down to the courthouse to take care of. My agent had called me and told me that he had gotten me an audition for the new Nightmare On Elm Street.

Truthfully speaking, I was not familiar with Nightmare On Elm Street. I remember it was raining, pouring down rain that day, and I had to catch 3 buses to the audition. I read the break down of the character. The character they wanted was a young body builder, which was totally against what I looked like for anything. I didn’t think I had a chance of getting it so I wasn’t even going to go.
The agent called back and told me at least go so you can get a chance to meet the casting director, because she’s going to be casting other things. I had timed everything perfectly, I could catch the bus up there, run over and do the audition, and run back and catch the next bus. Now, when I tell you it was raining, that meant just crossing the street would get me soaking wet. (laughs) I had an attitude! This really bad attitude (laughs) because I didn’t want to be there.
I get up there and the lady told me they were running behind, and the casting director wouldn’t be able to see me for another 40 minutes. So, now I’m pissed again because I was going to miss the bus. So, I waited. I had the bus schedule. And when they told me I was going in, I had 10 minutes to go in and do the audition, and run 3 blocks to go catch the bus back home. That was ALL that was important to me was catching my bus. I went in with an attitude, and (director) Chuck Russell thought I was coming in IN character. (laughs) But I really didn’t want to be there. (laughs)
So, he said, “Well, do what you want to do. How do you feel? Just go with how you feel.” And I just started cussing and throwing shit around. When I finished, Chuck just said “Thank you” and I knew I just didn’t get the role. When I got home, they called me and said I had the role. (laughs) I just didn’t think I’d get it because when I got there, they had all these guys that were in the best of shape. I walked in and felt like I was a little Rerun. (laughs)

That’s a great story! When you got the role, did you go back and watch the other movies?

I did. I watched the other 2 movies. The first thing that (director) Chuck Russell did was to bring us all together and everybody was very excited because I was going to be the first black to fight Freddy.

Chuck told me that my character was a little different, because I didn’t really have special powers. My power was strength. … and talking shit. (laughs) He had told me that if there was something in the script that as a black guy, I didn’t feel I would say, to talk to him about it. So, a lot of the things that I said came from me, per se as opposed to the character. Not all of it was as written.
Does that mean you got to improvise with Kincaid a lot?

Not a lot. Some things though. I know that there’s a part where I say “Let’s go kick the motherfucker’s ass all over dream land”, all that came from me. (laughs) Because… in real life, we call that jonzing. I was good at that. I was a stand up comic as well. So, some things Chuck would let me do and give me leeway to do.

When you approached the character, did you prepare at all? Or did you pretty much act the way you did in the audition, which is yourself, just pissed off?

I prepared. Because the character was a little different from when I did the audition. I think it was the attitude that I had. I just wanted to go in there, and catch the bus. That’s all I wanted! Because of the description of the character, I didn’t think I had a chance. I think the audition was at 4:30, and I had been on the street from 7am that morning. And it was raining while I was going from one place to another, so by the time I got there, I was pure attitude. I wasn’t trying to act, I was just being myself.
(laughs) But when I got the role, yes, I did prepare, because Chuck Russell and I talked and he explained to me what he wanted from the character. And this was also going to be the biggest role for me. I had no idea that Kincaid was going to be that popular. I had NO idea. What was exciting about that was that I lived! (laughs)
You lived in 3!

I don’t know if you know the history of being a black actor in horror films, but I am the first African American to ever survive a major horror movie and return to a sequel… That’s in the books!

That’s awesome, but I’m still angry about Nightmare 4. (laughs) We’ll get to that in a minute. I just wanted to know… I’ve met Robert Englund before and he’s a super nice guy. What was it like to first see him in the Freddy make-up for the first time? Was he intimidating or just his usual nice self?

For me he was (nice). He was not intimidating because of Robert Englund. He was intimidating because who he was to me. Robert Englund has always been a very generous and kind person. He made us feel comfortable on set. He was not an ego on the set, he made us feel really comfortable, at least when I was there. Because there were very, very long hours. At one point, we were in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles that they had built, and it was very hot in there. By the end of the day, it was different personalities clashing together, but… Robert Englund always kept his cool. For the most part. Him and I were always cool when we worked.

The cast had a large ensemble of kids, the “last of the elm street kids” in the movie. Did you get some time to get familiar with the other actors beforehand, so that your friendships would translate into the actual movie? Or did the production move fast?
What Chuck Russell did with us, before we went for principle photography, he got us all together and he brought us to a place in Westwood and we had lunch. Again we met at a hotel and we all just talked. We got to know each other before we started shooting the movie. Rodney Eastman (Joey) and I became friendly right from the beginning. From the very first day, we became buddies. All of us became really close.
I remember Patricia Arquette, the first couple of times we got off set, she took me home a lot of the times. She drove all the way from where she lived to the hood to drop me off. (laughs) That was a big thing! Because we all looked out for each other. We don’t hang out with each other, but we all kind of looked out for each other. Ira (Heiden – “Will Stanton”) was always the playful one. Rodney was the one always in love. (laughs) Heather (Langenkamp – “Nancy”) was the big sister to everyone.

Nightmare 3 is one of Laurence Fishburne’s first roles. What was it like to work with him so early in his career?

Laurence taught me psychical acting. He immediately became a brother. I had no idea. This was the first role that I had done that I had to do some psychical acting, and some stunt work. He brought me to the side and told me how to do it, because we would do something and by the time we finished that scene on the first take, I’d be out of breath. He took me to the side and taught me how to deal with those things.
He knew this was new to me, because he had been in the business for quite some time before Nightmare On Elm Street 3. He would talk to me and tell me how important this character (of Kincaid) was and what it represents. After that, he recommended me for other roles as well. I see him periodically and he’s always very gracious.

Do you remember how it felt to see the completed movie, Nightmare On Elm Street 3 on the big screen for the first time with your friends and the cast?

Yea, my family was at the first screening, we all went. And there were some parts in the movie that I was not aware of, and that actually scared me. I remember being with my California mom and family, and there was this part where a pig or something just jumps out at us and the whole audience jumped. And I remember her saying, “Well, this IS a horror film!” (laughs) I almost pissed in my cloths! (laughs) What was even more exciting was to see my name on the screen. It was there, and I was proud. My mother had never seen Nightmare On Elm Street.

By part 3, Freddy was huge in popularity and Part 3 was a hit. How quickly after 3 did they start putting Part 4 together?

You know, I have no idea. Because I didn’t even know that I was coming back. True story. The next year when they were doing the new movie, my character was in the breakdown. So, I did not know if I was coming back or not. They never told me if I was coming back. When I signed on to do Kincaid, it was only for Part 3. I had no idea if I was coming back. Then, in the breakdown, they had my character because they were looking for that role to be cast. I just got a call that they’re doing “this” and this is what you’ll get paid for this to come back.
I know comedian-wise, almost every comedian had me in their stand-up at the time. (laughs) I remember one time, this was the weirdest thing... I get a call from an operator asking if I was Ken Sagoes, and I heard some foreign language on the other line. What it was, it was some dignitary in Taiwan that could not speak English, but who was speaking to a translator on the line thru an operator here. She translated to me that they wanted me to say “Happy Birthday” to their son.
(laughs) That’s pretty wild.

I remember saying OK and just saying Happy Birthday. That was probably one of the most memorable things I’ve done. The young man drew a picture of me, which I still have that he drew by hand and sent to me. There was a “Kincaid fanclub” in Taiwan. Never been there. (laughs)
For Part 4, you got to reunite with Rodney Eastman (Joey) and Robert Englund (Freddy), but at the same time, Tuesday Knight ended up replacing Patricia Arquette as Kristin. What was that like?

Tuesday stepped right in. I missed Patricia, but Tuesday stepped right in. I’m going to say that there wasn’t any difference (with the character) because I don’t remember anything that happened out of the ordinary, except that I didn’t know why she (Patricia) didn’t come back. I never knew the reason.
I know that one of the jokes that was going around for me was that if you want to see Kincaid in the new movie, don’t go get popcorn, go straight to the movie because he’s getting killed that quick! (laughs) Tuesday, we looked at her as another sister. Not another Kristin to me, but another sister who was playing the role.

Did you know from the get-go that Kincaid was going to be killed off right away in 4?
Yea. This time it was Renny Harlin (directing). He met with Rodney and I. He had already met with Tuesday Knight before he met with us. There was a day where he just wanted to meet with Rodney and I. I don’t even think there was a script then, it was more of a treatment. And he told us we were going to be the first to be killed. He asked us how we saw Kincaid and how we saw Joey.
Actually, for my character, I don’t know about Rodney, I only originally had 3 days on Nightmare 4. That’s how quickly I was going to be killed off. But, it turned out that I ended up working on it for 2 weeks. It took us a week to film that scene at the junkyard.

Speaking of Renny Harlin, now he’s an established director, but Nightmare 4 was one of his first gigs. It’s common knowledge that he didn’t always see eye to eye with the producers on that film. Was any of that evident? Or did everything run smooth?

It was very smooth with Renny Harlin. I didn’t have any problems with him. What I can say about New Line and Bob Shaye, the people who produced the movie, is that if there were any problems that were going on, they did not allow the actors (at least from my point of view) to know that was going on. This is actually the first time I’m hearing that there were problems. I know that, just like Chuck Russell, he met with us before principle shooting began and he talked with us. The only problem I had was that I felt I was being killed too soon!
(laughs) I just wanted to be there more. I also know there WAS talk that I was coming back to fight Freddy (at the end). I don’t know if you ever caught it. But if you pay attention, my character is the only one that says “I’ll see you in hell.” I think it was supposed to be a set-up that I was going to come back and challenge Freddy Krueger with something spiritual or something.

That would’ve been great! When I saw Nightmare 4, I was a heartbroken 11 year old!

You know, by then, the Kincaid character was popular and I was getting a lot of fan mail. People wanted to see a fight between me and Robert Englund. I don’t know what actually happened. But those were among the rumors I heard. And that was the reason, I had to say that line specifically – “I’ll see you in hell” which meant that I was going to return. But I don’t know what happened though. No one ever sat me down and talked to me about it, I just heard that rumor. I wanted it to happen. (laughs) And at the time, I was a young man that didn’t know how to make it happen. If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve gone to them and tried to make it happen…

You could’ve showed them all that fan mail!

I couldn’t believe… I still get a bunch of fan mail. I guess it’s the new generation of fans that see Nightmare On Elm Street. And as you know, next year is our 20th anniversary.

Yep. Oh, quick question! Someone who DID fight Freddy in hell was Jason. Your dog in Nightmare 4 was named Jason. Was that done as a nod to the Friday The 13th character?

There were rumors about that on the set. I didn’t know for sure. But there were rumors that they named Jason as a nod to Friday The 13th. I had heard that a lot on the set.

After Nightmare 4, you’re listed as doing a lot of television work. Can you just tell us from your point of view the differences between working on film projects as opposed to television?

Feature films? Well for me… feature films are the bigger check. (laughs) But television has always been very quick. With feature films, you take time. I will say that the Nightmare On Elm Street movies helped me as an actor, because a lot of the special effects are not there, you have to pretend that they’re there. If you over do it, you look like you’re not acting or you don’t know what you’re doing. It taught me to be a better natural actor.

That’s another thing I tell people about the horror films, it really helped me to concentrate as an actor. Television is just very quick, especally sitcoms. It’s all in the same apartment, just different rooms. (laughs) And I like it. If I had a choice, I’d probably go to film. I would love to do another horror film, I just havn't been able to get one.

You’re also credited as a writer for a lot of television and a comedy feature called ‘Up Against The 8 Ball’. Did you start writing during the same period that you started acting?

I used to be a staff writer for Paramount television. I’ve been nominated several times. I won the cable Ace for best writer. I’ve won several awards for my writing, and believe it or not, my writing is drama. (laughs) With the exception of my time at Paramount. I was a comedy writer for Paramount. My major goal was to do the Apollo and I did the Apollo 3 times. And I never got booed. I was guest comic. It was something I wanted to dabble in and I did it, and I’ll go on to my next step now. I just finished writing a horror film script. I want to see if I can get that out there.

Too soon to talk about this horror film?

I want to keep it on the down low. (laughs)

Well, I met you a few months ago at the Monster Mania convention. Was that one of your first convention appearances?

That WAS my first.

Now, what was that like for you from your perspective to meet so many of your fans? I know I’ve always wanted to meet you since I first saw Nightmare 3!

It was exciting. They’re trying to get us to go on some more conventions next year for the 20th anniversary, so we’ll see. But it was exciting. It gave me a chance to meet people who send me letters all the time. I don’t know if you know, but it was at (Monster Mania) that I found out someone was impersonating me on My Space.

Oh no. Rodney Eastman had mentioned to me at the convention that someone was impersonating him on My Space as well.

Yea, I just got the impersonator off of My Space. I had to go down to the police department and get an attorney. Not only was he on My Space pretending to be me, but he had his picture on there! He had hundreds of people that he was talking to regularly. Not 2 or 3 - hundreds of people. He had his picture on there and he was saying things that just aren’t my view. He had made some racist statements about Eminem and a few other people and I would never say anything like that. I went down to the police department and at first they told me there was absolutely nothing I could do about it because he wasn’t making any money off of it. He wasn’t really breaking any law.

I think that My Space has strict policies against impersonating anyone.

It took me a while. I had to get an attorney to write a letter to My Space. It ended up costing me money just to get them to delete it! They finally went on and deleted the person. It was funny because I couldn’t even go on and make up a website saying that I’m the real Kincaid, because this sucker owned my name! (laughs) I would try to type in “Kincaid” or “Ken Sagoes”, it’d tell me it was already in use!

Wow. Are you set up on My Space yet or do you have any website?

I don’t have any website at the moment.

Well, you let us know when you do so we can let the fans know. Thanks so much for talking with us, Ken!

Check out our FRIGHT exclusive interview with NIGHTMARE 4's TUESDAY KNIGHT!

Special thanks to Ken Sagoes for his time!
Ken Sagoes official My Space page:

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