With Chucky Season 3 coming to an end this Wednesday, I had the opportunity to catch up with Don Mancini! We talked all about the second half of Chucky Season 3, including expanding the franchise mythology, writing for the series' recurring characters, and old Chucky's nod to a Mario Bava classic!

Whether it's the films or the TV series, I've always appreciated how you've continued to evolve and expand the mythology in a really organic way. Now in this season, we have old-man Chucky, the afterlife, and more. Can you talk about your approach to expanding the world of Chucky?

Don Mancini: It's a lot of fun! The White House setting is something I've been interested in for a long time, and not even necessarily for a Chucky project. I did a lot of research over the course of several years, and I knew that the White House was a great opportunity for a fairly unique haunted house story. By utilizing the lore of the White House and abstractly what we think of when we think of haunted houses and ghosts and spirits, I could connect that with the Damballa mythology and expand it. It allowed me to approach the supernatural in new ways this season. Now we deal with an alternate reality of where you go after death, and you see that the ghost of Charles Lee Ray is lingering.

Episode seven is one of the most unusual episodes we've ever done because we're using a whole different kind of magic that's going on because we're in a haunted house now, and the ghost of Charles Lee Ray is able to utilize different tools. Before, he was a ghost inhabiting a doll. Now he's a ghost in the ether, and like lots of ghosts, he starts to learn how to operate.

It's been really rewarding to watch Jake, Devon, Lexy evolve as characters over the three seasons. What has the experience been like for you, not just developing these characters, but working with young actors who are growing up over the course of the series?

Don Mancini: I love writing material for actors that I know. I think most writers enjoy that, because it's like when you know them as performers and you know them as people, it just gives you ideas. That's why it's fun for me with Brad Dourif to give him new stuff to do every season. But with the kids, it presents unique opportunities because as you say, they're growing up before our eyes. So it's really interesting to see Zach and Bjorgvin and Aly growing as people and sort of coming into their own as people, as well as actors. And I always try to give them all something big, some challenge. I pitched them a couple of fastballs [in the later episodes] and they hit home runs.

I think people will be really excited to see how they're growing. It was also really fun to write the evolving romance between Jake and Devon. That's something that's been important to me from the beginning of the show, creating those characters and wanting to create gay teenage characters in a horror show for gay horror fans to identify with, because that's something I would've loved to have had when I was a kid. It's great that the world has evolved now where we can do that, so now that the characters and the actors are both 17, 18 years old, it seemed right for them to take this step in their romance. I wanted to do it in the most idyllic way possible, and I wanted to portray that as a fun and joyful event. But also, it's important dramatically because once they become lovers, then as they say to one another, "We're closer than ever." And so the threat of loss is more acute.

It's so impressive to see the creative team evolve Chucky season to season. From the kills to the Chucky designs, how do you approach keeping everything fresh?

Don Mancini: We just sort of follow the character's story. It's really the story that leads us into things like new looks. So for this season, I knew that I wanted on a story level and a character level for Chucky to have to struggle with the thought of aging and dying, and the thought of potentially becoming obsolete in the culture. I thought that that was an amusingly real and universally identifiable existential dilemma. That happens with Chucky a lot over the course of the franchise and it's one of the things people enjoy about him. So that naturally meant that he's going to age now, and I had a very specific thought of how I wanted him to look. There's this Mario Bava TV movie from the '70s, and I can't remember the title of it, but there's this, and it's like this triptych of three different stories, and one of them-

Is it Black Sabbath?

Don Mancini: Yes. That it is! So you know the one where there's that woman within the bed with the blankets here and just that ghastly look, it's so terrifying to me.

It sears in your brain. I can see that image immediately.

Don Mancini: Totally. So I sent stills to Tony and when Chucky's in the bed, that's where that inspiration came from. But not to diminish [the work that went into it], I'll share that one thing to Tony Gardner and say, "Make it look kind of like this and cool." But he really knocked it out of the park, and there were three distinct stages as well. It was creepy.


Check out the finale of Chucky Season 3 on Wednesday and check back here Thursday afternoon for my interview with Brad and Fiona Dourif!