We’re officially just a day away from the premiere episode of Chucky on SYFY, as the brand new series from creator Don Mancini debuts on Tuesday, October 12th at 10 PM EST. This latest entry in the Child’s Play/Chucky franchise will deliver up eight episode of mayhem and murder courtesy of the titular doll (which is, of course, voiced by the legendary Brad Dourif).
During a recent press day, Daily Dead joined a group of journalists to speak with Mancini about the Chucky series, where he discussed the freedom that this new television show gave him, allowing him to take this story even further than another feature film would have. Mancini also chatted about the legacy of the character of Chucky, how the Chucky series connects with the most recent film in the franchise, Cult of Chucky, and teased some tidbits about the return of fan-favorite characters like Tiffany Valentine (played by Jennifer Tilly), Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) and Christine Elise’s character Kyle.
Instead of a 90-minute or two-hour movie, we have eight episodes of TV to get to know these characters and root for their survival. How do you keep that tension going, when the action is more spread out like that? And is it harder killing people off?
Well, as far as keeping the tension going, I think the eight-hour format actually helps in that regard, and in a way that might seem surprising, because you have the greater storytelling real estate. We have more time to get you involved with these characters. You've seen the first four episodes, right? So you've seen a little bit of how we designed it in terms of setting up these characters. They seem on the face of it to be one thing, but then you find out a little more about them and that’s when you can start to peel the layers of the onion away.
For example, with Lexy, who is initially this horrible bully, that by the end of the second episode, when Lexy has pulled her mean Halloween party prank, I think you're rooting for Chucky and Jake to get her. But then just as we maneuver Chucky into position to do that, we start finding out a little more about why Lexy acts the way she does and why she behaves the way she does. So anyway, it's kind of a long way of answering your question, but I actually think that having more time and space increases the tension because you get to know them much more as human beings than you can in a 90-minute film.
What I love about this show is beyond all the killings and everything is that you touch on what it is like to grow up in this time. And with Chucky, he’s interesting here because he doesn't discriminate, so I think it's interesting to have that dynamic to the storytelling.
Yeah, I think it's interesting to do something with, for lack of a better term, a slight social mission or social statement anyway, but to come at that through the lens of a horror character as well known as Chucky, particularly in that he has such a distinct dark sense of humor. One of my favorite dialogue exchanges in the show is when Chucky is reading Jake's diary and he says to Jake, "You should just call it Devon, Devon, Devon." And Jake is embarrassed so Chucky says, "You know, I have a queer kid," and Jake is like, "What? Like, and you're cool with it?" And Chucky's, "Well, I'm not a monster, Jake." I just thought it was fun to play with the expectations that an audience has, regarding a character that is so well known and I like to think that over the years in the films that we've dimensionalized Chucky in a somewhat unusual way.
We've seen his home life, his family life, his difficult marriage and he had a gender-fluid child who he struggled with in Seed of Chucky, but at the end came to accept it. So, he's in a good position to become Jake's seeming ally in that way because as you say, he's not a bigot, he's not homophobic, he's not racist, he's just a psychopath who doesn't discriminate, he'll kill anybody. You remember Tiffany/Jennifer Tilly had the line in Bride of Chucky where she says, "I'll kill anyone, but I'll only sleep with someone I love." I think that these are monsters who have a very human side, which I think is fun and I think it's part of the reason why the characters have lasted in the culture as long as they have.
This franchise has been something that you've been a part of since the very beginning and I'm curious, what was different about the creative process for you for this series versus working in the films? Was it a challenge to walk that line to make something that could be inclusive to some of the people out there who may not be Child's Play/Chucky diehards, but also give something that delivers for the long time fans as well?
I think one of the reasons I was excited about taking the franchise into television was because it's so hyper-collaborative. That's not exactly the right term, but it's just there are so many more people involved and one of my favorite aspects of doing all this is collaboration. I love working with the various department heads and looking at the story through their specific lenses, whether it's costumes or design, or photography. I love doing that with the actors, too and I did it with the kids on the show, where I invited them to make contributions to their characters, and we workshopped everything a little bit.
I think that the way television is run, the way it's set up and operates is that if you choose the right collaborators, and I think that's something I'm good at actually because I love working with people who are smarter than me in a lot of ways. But I knew that this was an opportunity to invite new, very talented people in, whether that was the writers, directors, or actors, and invite them into this world. I knew that their contributions would help elevate the whole thing and hopefully ensure its continued longevity, which the older I get is more important to me because then I'll get to keep working, right?
Absolutely. Thank you so much and also, I just want to say as a huge Seed of Chucky fan, I was really glad to see you acknowledge Glen/Glenda in this because it's a character that I love and they mean a lot to me as a fan.
Thank you so much for saying that. That means a lot to me and fingers crossed for season two because my hope is we'd see more of Glen/Glenda.
I was wondering if there's anything you can tease about Chucky’s specific connection to Cult of Chucky and also, is there anything that you can tease about Tiffany and Kyle's return?
Well, the new trailer that came out last week alludes to a bunch of it so we definitely do pick up the story threads that I left on multiple cliffhangers in Cult of Chucky. I did that very deliberately, with the hope of setting up a television series because I knew that a television series having eight hours and all this room would allow me to go down these various avenues, in a way that doing simply another 90-minute movie wouldn't allow us. So we do find out what happens with Nica, who when we last saw her in Cult was possessed by Chucky. The last we saw her/him is that she's kissing Tiffany and they're driving off into the snowstorm.
One of the questions I wanted to pose there was, and this is very on-brand for our franchises, what does that suggest? That Chucky is going on an adventure of sexual fluidity? What does that mean? And that does connect on a story level with what's going on with our main character Jake, who is gay and struggling with that and finding acceptance and finding love and all of that. When we left Chucky, it wasn't an accident, that I was putting him on the road to sort of sexual exploration. I enjoyed the thought of blowing people's minds about, "what Chucky's sexually fluid now, what does that mean?" Anyway, we get more into that in the back half of the season.
Tiffany is with Nica/Chucky and we find out how that relationship is going. I feel like I lost the thread of my answer there, but basically, I think the answers are all in the trailer. I think that's all I could say, I don't want to say too much more, other than we do spend a substantial amount of time with Nica, Tiffany, Andy, and Kyle. When we last saw Andy, he was trapped in the asylum. When we last saw Kyle, she was going to take care of the Chucky head that Andy had left at his cabin. Now we pick up what's going on with their relationship as well.