Ever since her arrival in Curse of Chucky as Nica Pierce, Fiona Dourif has quickly become one of my favorite players in the Chuckyverse, with her work on the new Chucky TV series allowing her to hit all-new creative highs with her character, or characters, which might be a more precise way of putting things these days.
Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with the absolutely delightful Dourif, who discussed everything from her initial fears coming into the franchise, eventually taking on the character that her dad made iconic nearly 35 years ago, her mind-blowing transformation via prosthetics in Chucky, sharing scenes with Jennifer Tilly, and so much more.
Check out our interview with Fiona Dourif below, and be sure to tune in for the final two episodes of the first season of Chucky on Tuesday nights on both SYFY and USA Network.
**SPOILER WARNING: We discuss details of episodes 5 and 6 of Chucky, so if you haven’t caught up with those episodes of the show, consider this your warning before going forward.**
Great to speak with you today, Fiona. I grew up with the original film and of course the sequels as they would come out. But as I've re-immersed myself in these movies and now with the Chucky TV series, I really feel like this is quickly becoming one of my favorite franchises, because there's clearly a lot of love that’s been put into all these stories. So I have to ask—when you came in for Curse, did you have any idea at all where Nica was going to be heading? Because all of this is blowing my mind. I'm only up to episode six of this show, but holy crap, this is amazing.
Fiona Dourif: I know [laughs]. And it only gets so much crazier. By the finale, we were all sitting behind the monitors with all the puppeteers, just giggling our asses off. But did I have any idea how much it was going to be embraced and how long it was going to last and how many places I could go? Absolutely not. No. I mean, she was originally written as... the word "final girl" has been thrown out there, but as close to an ingenue as I've ever played, and just somebody who was trying to survive. And then she becomes a lot more complicated in Cult of Chucky, where she's just been torn apart and is angry and still trying to survive. And then in the series, I mean, Don just gave me so much to play with. It seems like I could do whatever I wanted. He wanted it to be as imaginative and bizarre and as interesting as we could get it. It's really juicy material that I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to play. And plus, people really like it. So the whole thing feels like winning the lottery.
In Chucky, you're getting to play both sides of the coin here, where we get these flashes of Nica, and we also are getting these flashes of Chucky. Is that really fun? You mentioned having the freedom to go places creatively. But as a performer where you’re getting to play both offense and defense, how cool is that?
Fiona Dourif: That's a great way to put it. No, it was really cool. And when the idea was first floated for me to play Charles, I didn't think the studio was going to say yes. And then it turns out they were really enthusiastic. They thought it was a great idea if the prosthetics worked well enough, and I was worried that they weren't going to. But François [Dagenais], up in Toronto, did an incredible job. I even went into a bar when we were not shooting with all the prosthetics on, just to see if I would pass as a cis man and I 100 percent did. I mean, I was completely unrecognizable, and people thought I was a man. Also, the opportunity to just walk around like that was really interesting. It's a different way of interacting with the world. It really is. I felt really lucky, and I talked to my dad about how he has played Chucky over the years, and then I made the decision to make it my own. You know how you kind of become your parents as you get older anyway, even if you don't think it’ll happen to you? It was like that [laughs]. But I just had the confidence that enough of him was going to come through. I have his laugh anyway. I have a combination of my mom and my dad's laugh, but I have this loud cackle in real life that you can hear from blocks away. It's a nightmare. There's nothing I can do to stop it.
And I think that's why Don actually first had the idea, because he thinks I have Chucky's laugh in real life anyway. But I just talked to my dad a little bit about who he thinks Chucky is, and then felt like I could make it my own. And I did. And there are two little anecdotes to say here. One is, it's really cool to get to play somebody who's so free and having so much fun. I think that's why people like that character so much is because he's such a dick, and he is irreverent, and he really loves his job. He's really free, and he enjoys every minute of it. He loves being in a woman's body. He's driven by fear, but aren't we all? And it's fun to get to step into those shoes for a while.
And then my second anecdote is... I remember when they first were putting the prosthetics on me. It takes about four and a half hours. And I was listening to podcasts, which I do often, just to relax or whatever and I realized I was listening to this physicist and he's explaining how the universe and basic physics work, to the extent that we can understand it. And I realized that my dad used to read only physics books when he was in his 40s. And I didn't do that on purpose, but once his face was on my face, I looked in the mirror at the end of it and it was like looking at my father. Then I realized I was listening to this fucking physics podcast, and I had some kind of existential—well, I wouldn't call it a crisis, but it was some moment that was quite memorable [laughs]. I was like, "Oh, my God, all we are is genetics." You think you're your own person, but you're not. You're a slave to DNA.
I know we're getting close on time, but I wanted to talk about working with Jennifer, because your scenes together are so much fun, and I love the back-and-forth between you two. And that poker scene was hilarious and had me in stitches. She has so much fun energy. How much fun is it to work with her?
Fiona Dourif: It's so fun. And she's also one of the freest actresses I've ever worked with. So you don't know what she's going to say or do, which keeps you in the moment and keeps it grounded, and keeps it changing a lot. It feels much more like a dance, and it was really fun. And it turns out the first time we kissed was in Winnipeg, but it was so cold. You couldn't tell what was going on. It was negative 45 degrees when we did this. But I remember the first time I kissed her, I was like, "Oh, we have chemistry." And I really like her as a person. She's really smart and interesting and funny and generous. She's a cool person. And then I liked kissing her, so we were lucky. I was lucky. She's hot [laughs].
I'm a really big believer that whenever you're doing something creative, obviously, you put something from yourself into the work that you’re doing. But I'm curious, from your experiences working on Curse and Cult, and now being part of the Chucky TV series, what's been your biggest takeaway from being involved with this franchise and being able to play with these characters and everything?
Fiona Dourif: This series has changed my life. I had been acting for about six years before I was first cast in Curse. And I've done things that were quite popular, but I hadn't done something that has such a loyal fan base as Chucky. I mean, he is zeitgeist-y, man. People just adore him. And it’s become empowering for me, as I was really nervous when I was cast in the first movie, just because I knew how popular this series was and is. It's something that's been in my life since I was seven years old, that all my friends talked about. "Dude, do you know her dad is Chucky?"
So when I did the movie, I was scared that I was going to fail, but people really liked it, and then they also liked Cult. I also became very good friends with Don. He's one of my closest friends. But it all just continues on, and it feels like this series is even more popular, or at least it feels that way from my end. The online response to it has been really surreal and wonderful. I'm so glad that people like it. But getting to make things with people that have been very integral to my life, and then we make something that people really like and is celebrated, and I get paid for it, it feels like winning some bizarre life lottery.
[Photo Credit: Above photo courtesy of SYFY.]
In case you missed it, check out our previous coverage of the Chucky TV series!