Five Nights at Freddy's Fans All Say One Thing About Matthew Lillard in the Movie

Five Nights at Freddy's Fans All Say One Thing About Matthew Lillard in the Movie
Image credit: Universal Pictures

The horror legend could not have been a more perfect choice for the iconic videogame adaptation. Or could he?


  • Five Nights at Freddy's is an iconic horror videogame revolving around eerie animatronics in a long-abandoned family-friendly pizza cafe
  • In 2023, the game was adapted for big screens, and Matthew Lillard portrayed the main villain
  • While fans are ecstatic about his performance, there's one thing that kind of ruins everything

Five Nights at Freddy's is a wild mix of the eerie atmosphere of an abandoned pizza cafe that quickly turned creepy and a lore constructed of little hints from game developers and fan theories. It's been a lifelong dream for fans to finally see the bone-chilling animatronics on the big screen, and just recently, it has come true.

Even though the adaptation arrived to an anticlimactic 33% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, the audiences seem to enjoy it much more: 88% audience score, along with the Five Nights at Freddy's subreddit filled with joyous comments, speaks for itself.

Warning: spoilers for Five Nights at Freddy's ahead!

Who Is Matthew Lillard Playing in Five Nights at Freddy's?

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The participation of horror legend Matthew Lillard has played a huge part in the movie's success with fans. Known from Scream, Ghoulies III, and Thirteen Ghosts, Lillard joined the cast of Five Nights at Freddy's as none other than William Afton — the twisted mastermind behind the kidnapping of kids at Freddy's back in the 80s.

If you have played the game (or have already watched the movie), you know that seemingly friendly animatronics from the pizza place are in fact creepy vessels for those kidnapped kids... both for their bodies and their spirits.

What Do Fans Say About Matthew Lillard's Performance in FNAF?

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Lillard's character first appears in a seemingly innocent capacity of a man who helps Mike (the main character portrayed by Josh Hutcherson) with a job. "Helps" is a strong word, because he puts the troubled young man straight into Freddy's as a night security guard — apparently in order to mess him up for good.

However, Mike's history pushes him to know more about the place he's looking after, and soon, after he is forced to take his little sister Abby with him to work, he discovers the animatronics are able to walk all by themselves. They befriend Abby; the fact that they slaughtered the robbers who came to destroy the place earlier, remains a secret to Mike and his little sister.

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After several heart-wrenching plot twists, Mike and Abby try to escape the haunted pizza place; but Lillard's William Afton finally reveals himself in his true form, leading the animatronics against Mike, Abby, and even his own daughter.

According to fans, Lillard was the perfect actor to portray the twisted character of Afton; however, he was severely underused in the movie, only appearing in a couple of scenes.

"He serves as a substitute for the phone guy but he just felt really lackluster for me. Also, yes, he said the thing ("I always come back") but the delivery just really fell flat," Redditor RebeccaGoneRogue said.

The fan also noted that the infamous springlock scene (when Afton's animatronic costume basically punctures him to death from the inside) was weird because Afton did not seem to be bothered by it as much as someone slowly and painfully dying definitely would be. Instead, he just puts the head of the costume that's killing him back on, which almost seems like a writing flaw.

Other fans agreed that Afton seemed a lot more menacing in the games than in the movie, although Lillard's talent clearly allowed to avoid that. However, many people think that a sequel is inevitable at this point; the "I always come back" phrase and several Easter eggs in the credits have explicitly hinted at that.

Source: Reddit