Englund was born in Glendale, California on June 6, 1947, the son of Janis (née MacDonald) and Clyde Kent Englund, an aeronautics engineer who helped develop the Lockheed U-2 aircraft. He has Swedish ancestry.Englund began studying acting at the age of twelve in a children's theater program at California State University, Northridge.While he was in high school, he attended the Cranbrook Theatre School (organized by the Cranbrook Educational Community) in Bloomfield Hills. He then attended California State University for three years before transferring to Michigan's Oakland University, where he trained at the Meadow Brook Theatre, at the time a branch of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Englund has been married three times.
Since his first horror film, Eaten Alive, in 1977, Englund has made over 100 appearances on film and television. His early film roles usually typed him as a nerd or a redneck, and he first gained attention in the role of Willie, the lovably innocent alien in the 1983 miniseries V, as well as the 1984 sequel V: The Final Battle, and V: The Series.
After his huge success in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Englund became the first new horror movie star since Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the 1960s. His association with the genre led him to top-billed roles in The Phantom of the Opera (1989), The Mangler (1995), and 2001 Maniacs (2005).
Englund is one of only two actors to play a horror character eight consecutive times, the other being Doug Bradley, who portrayed the Pinhead character eight times in the Hellraiser film series. Englund has said that he enjoys the role of Freddy as it gives him a break from always playing the nice guy; indeed, many people who have worked with Englund attest to his congeniality. Makeup artists responsible for the Krueger makeup have commented that Englund was so friendly and talkative that it made the lengthy makeup application slightly more challenging.
Englund's TV appearances include starring in the short-lived series Nightmare Cafe (1992), in which he played Blackie, the mysterious proprietor of the title cafe, and reprising his role of "Freddy Krueger" in the series Freddy's Nightmares. His guest spots include the science fiction series Babylon 5, one episode of the show MacGyver as Tim Wexler, Masters of Horror, MadTV, Sliders, and Knight Rider, where he played a phantom haunting a film studio and Walking Tall: The Series as well as a guest star spot on the hit TV show Walker Texas Ranger. His work in voice-over animation includes magician Felix Faust in Justice League, The Riddler on The Batman and The Vulture on The Spectacular Spider-Man, and as Dormammu on The Super Hero Squad Show. On the TV witch drama Charmed (Episode: "Size Matters"), he played a demon who used the services of a lackey to lure people into a decrepit household (where he lived in the walls) and shrank them down to action figure size. He also appeared on an episode of Married... with Children as The Devil. He appeared most recently in one episode of the 2010 season of the television spy spoof Chuck, as a scientist who created a fear-inducing nerve toxin.
Englund performed as host of the Horror Hall of Fame awards show three times from 1989-1991.
Englund made his directorial début with the 1988 horror film 976-EVIL. His second feature, Killer Pad, was released direct-to-DVD in 2008. He is currently in pre-production to direct The Vij, about a young priest who is led by an evil genie to commit murder, and who falls in love with an old witch who is not what she seems.
His memoir, Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of Your Dreams with coauthor Alan Goldsher, was published by Pocket Books on October 13, 2009.
Recently he had starred in the web series "Fear Clinic", where he played in five episodes as Dr. Andover.
Englund recently noted he would welcome a guest appearance in the ABC revival of V in an interview with Todd Sokolove from Forces of Geek.
In January 2010, it was announced that he will return as Jackson Roth for the sequel to Dee Snider's Strangeland, Strangeland II: Disciple.
Englund had a guest appearance in the Slasher episode of Bones, portraying a quirky janitor at protagonist Dr. Temperance Brennan’s old high school.His character, a friend of Brennan's, and situation were introduced as "very creepy... it's like Freddy creepy." Englund was a special guest at the 2010 Streamy Awards. He is a special guest of the CA Weekend of Horrors on 8 October 2010. Englund appeared on the Creation Entertainment Weekend of Horrors in May 2010. In May 2010 he was cast for the American indie thriller Inkubus. Englund also appears as himself in the new Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies map, "Call of the Dead", set in a Crashed Siberian Ship.