Curse of Chucky Interview

Star Fiona Dourif and director/creator Don Mancini talk Curse of Chucky, debuting on all platforms today

(contributed by JL Watkins)

He's back and ready to play! From the filmmakers that brought you the original Child's Play comes the terrifying return of the pint-sized doll possessed by the spirit of a notorious serial killer.

When a mysterious package arrives at the house of Nica (Fiona Dourif), she doesn't give it much thought. However, after her mother's mysterious death, Nica begins to suspect that the talking, red-haired doll her visiting niece has been playing with may be the key to the ensuing bloodshed and chaos. The return of America's favorite toy, voiced again by Brad Dourif, is unrated and full of more blood-splattered thrills and chills.

Curse of Chucky makes its debut today! And you don't have to leave the house to see it. The Curse of Chucky Blu-ray and DVD are available for purchase or rent, and you can check out the movie on VOD as well, just in time for Halloween. But that's not all! Chucky: The Complete Collection Blu-ray is also arriving today, so that you can relive the entire saga!

To celebrate the return of everyone's favorite Good Guy gone bad, we caught up with Curse of Chucky director (and Chucky creator) Don Mancini as well as his leading lady Fiona Dourif, who is keeping this franchise in the family.

Was Chucky an on set diva? What were the challenges of bringing the doll back for a new generation? And will we see a return to form in terms of tone and scares? All this is answered and more. Here is our conversation on the eve of Chukypocylpse!

Don Mancini returns to direct Curse of Chucky

Don Mancini

I have a little dog here who likes to watch other animals on TV. He's not too into watching people. But I have to tell you, he was absolutely obsessed with Chucky!

Don Mancini: Your dog? (Laughs!)

Yes! Whenever he sees another animal on screen, he gets really excited. He couldn't care less about humans. But Chucky? I think you have a new fan in this dog!

Don Mancini: So you've seen the film?

Yes, me and Flex watched it last night...

Don Mancini: There's that scene with Jennifer Tilly at the post office. And at the end of the scene the postal worker says, "Perishable goods, live animal?" And Jennifer says, "Just put other." I think your dog is responding to that. Chucky is not quite a live animal. Maybe he is something similar?

Maybe. This particular dog is obsessed with toys, too. So he might think it's just a large, living toy.

Don Mancini: There you go!

You probably think I'm nuts. But I have another dog that only watches horror movies.

Don Mancini: (Laughs) What are his favorites?

For some reason she loves Scream 4. I have video of Rydell watching Scream 4, which I sent to Wes Craven. The dog literally puts her paw over her eyes when someone dies. But she wouldn't come inside to watch Chucky last night, so she missed out.

Don Mancini: That's hilarious. I think you HAVE to show your poor dog Scream 1.

I haven't return to that movie since I watched it so many years ago. Maybe, one day me and Rydell will pull it out and watch it together.

Don Mancini: If she likes Scream 4, she's going to go crazy for Scream 1, right?

You'd think so, but you never know. You never know. Now, I think the most controversial aspect about Curse of Chucky is that he does get a facelift. Can you take me through having to change him for this decade, yet keep him the iconic Chucky that we know.

Don Mancini: Yeah, it's difficult to talk about without giving away a major spoiler. It was all about creating a bridge between the placid, innocent looking Good Guy doll from the original movie, which we deploy at the beginning of Curse of Chucky...Again, I'd rather not give this away at the beginning of your article...The bull's-eye at the end of that journey is the revelation of his scars. So, we wanted to create something in the middle, in between there, that was subtly creepy, so that you'd understand the process. You know what I mean? So it seemed more plausible. It sounds like there are certain shots where some fans...When we played the movie at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal, there was a fan there, and he said, "How come in some shots, Chucky looks like Matt Damon?" (Laughs) I said, "I hadn't heard that one before." We are just always trying to find new ways of making him look creepy. Since that was our whole goal with this film, to make Chucky scary again, we are just trying to find new ways to shoot the doll, to make him look creepy.

Well, going into the look of Chucky's face...I have a friend that has a girl, she's about three. I hadn't been in Toys R Us for a while, and I don't often go into the girl's section. But I went in and looked at some of the dolls. And the boy dolls made for girls all have this big eyed, androgynous, unthreatening kind of very fey look to them. And its super creepy. I thought maybe you were basing Chucky's look on some of the actual toy fades on the market right now, in terms of what the girl-specific toys look like...

Don Mancini: I am aware of the American Girl dolls. I have friends with kids, and I have gone into that store with them. I take a healthy professional interest in dolls. I have my entire career. But with Chucky...It wasn't specifically that we were trying to evoke any of those dolls. It is interesting that you see those parallels. I think part of what you are picking up on is just that dolls can be fucking creepy. Depending on how they are lit. depending on what you are doing with their eyes. Where you put the camera. Because dolls are a distortion of the human form. And they are in that uncanny valley of what looks natural, that you don't take it at face value, and then there is something that seems like a monster. Chucky has to be somewhere in-between. As long as you found him creepy, I'm happy. (Laughs)

Oh, yeah. The new doll is pretty creepy. Now, everyone is doing a reboot or a remake of the most popular horror franchises from the 80s. This isn't really a reboot or a remake. It's pretty much a continuation of the series, even though it gets back to its original roots as a true horror movie. It goes for scares more than comedy. Is it easier to not do a remake, because your main character is a doll?

Don Mancini: Absolutely. Our job is a little bit easier because our character is not beholden to time or the aging process. On the other hand, I could make that agreement for Freddy. All of those horror icons, because they have masks, or heavy make-up. For example, in the new A Nightmare on Elm Street, they could have cast Robert Englund. No one would have noticed the fact that he is sixty, because of the make-up. Same with Michael Myers, or Jason. They have those masks. I think the fact that Chucky is a doll...It makes our job a little easier. But Brad Dourif is just so great in the role, the idea that anyone would consider recasting him seems crazy to me. Who are you going to get that's better? I understand that you can have a studio mentality that's like, "Oh, we have to have something new and hip." But seriously, you are not going to get anyone better than Oscar nominated actor Brad Dourif (laughs).

I've been a horror fan for as long as I can remember, and I saw the original Child's Play in theaters. What I've noticed from just about all of the longtime fans is that no one wants a remake. They just want a new Chucky movie. Having to restart with another origin movie really kills the momentum of wanting to see a reboot or a remake, too...

Don Mancini: Yeah. Honestly, there were a couple of years were we pursued an idea of doing a remake of the first movie. However, it was always our intentions to use Brad Dourif. Even if we made a reboot, we would have used Brad Dourif again. But I think the producer and I, like yourself, we see these remake movies come and go. They all had positive qualities about them. Yet, there was something overly familiar about them. We knew those stories. I think we learned from watching those movies, and we came to the conclusion that you are verbalizing. It's that what people really wanted to see was the same character in a new story.

Since the entire franchise set is coming out, what I've always wanted to know is...My Grandmother was a huge Tabloid newspaper consumer. And she would leave these bags of different papers at the house. One of the stories I always remembered was this article about a Possessed Cabbage Patch doll that had tormented a family. The first Chucky came out shortly after that story hit the alternative news. And I always wondered if you were inspired by that story in the creation of Chucky.

Don Mancini: No, I wasn't even aware of that. I was completely unaware of the possessed Cabbage Patch doll. That is so creepy.

With Halloween coming up, which one Chuck movie do you suggest as required viewing during the holiday season?

Don Mancini: Curse of Chucky, of course! (Laughs) I would answer Curse of Chucky first in the Machiavellian, mercenary sort of way, obviously. Because I want people to see the new movie. But I also think it represents the best of all possible worlds at this point. Because it is a new adventure, starring a character that the fans love, and it's a return to the tone of the original movies, which we haven't seen in quite a while. Because we did two movies back to back that were comedic. I would say Curse of Chucky is the one to watch!

Fiona Dourif continues the family legacy, taking the lead in Curse of Chucky

Fiona Dourif

I was looking at your past resume, and it says you got your start in acting playing one of the Chez Ami Whores on Deadwood. That must have been an interesting Father-Daughter day at work...

Fiona Dourif: (Laughs) I was whore number three! Yes sir! You know what happened? There is a long story involved with that. I'll try to condense it. I wasn't an actress at the time. I had just moved from Ireland. David Milch, who created that show...He gave me a job as a PA, just to get my feet on the ground. And he told me...He suggested one day that I should be an actress...He's done this for literally hundreds of people...He goes, "Go to this acting class. I'll pay for it." There are people who have had their acting classes paid by David Milch for more than ten years. Then, I fell in love with being an actress. He gave me this opportunity to audition for this part. I got the part. And then, I was fired. I had an anxiety attack my first day shooting. He was like, "Well, you can't do that part. We'll let you be one of the other girls." There were three new girls that come into town. One of them has this main story line. So, I had the main story line, but they were like, "No, I don't think she can do this." So, I got demoted to whore number three. That was my first acting experience. (Laughs)

I enjoy that story a lot. Maybe being fired was a blessing in disguise. It could only help you in the future.

Fiona Dourif: Yeah. I was not ready! I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I think I had this natural talent, which some people are able to draw from in a way. I could pull from that...But I didn't know how to perform under pressure. That's for sure. Then I thought, I can't do this. I just couldn't. It was cool, though. I feel like, sometimes, when things are just handed to people, in a way, right away, you don't get a sense of what the rejection and the struggle is like that comes along with life.

Are you originally from Ireland?

Fiona Dourif: No, I lived there. I went to college there for three years.

I was going to say, there is no hint of an accent.

Fiona Dourif: No, I'm American!

{bold|You must have found yourself under a lot of pressure acting under such a legend as Chucky. That must have been a panic attack in itself, I would think...

Fiona Dourif: (Laughs) No! I'm just trying to get attention from people now. Wait, let's see...Chucky being the doll, or Chucky being my dad. I don't feel any pressure acting in front of my dad.

No, I actually meant the doll. I wouldn't even think your dad would be on set. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

Fiona Dourif: No, he wasn't on set. But I'm gong to go with yes. Yes, there was a lot of pressure, because it took around 15 takes to get Chucky to do what he was supposed to do. There was a team of five or six people, and one person is controlling one eyebrow, and another person is controlling his lips. When you finally get a take where he is right, and I fuck up? It's like a nightmare. So...I had to be on my game with Chucky. We were really short on time. We shot the whole movie in 31 days. Which is insane.

I like the idea that Chucky is a real person, and he has fifteen handlers around him at all time. Because he's such a diva.

Fiona Dourif: Oh, he is such a diva. He has an entourage bigger than Britney Spears. Forget about it.

Back in the day, he was almost exclusively a robot, or puppet. It doesn't sound like that has changed. Is there much CGI Chucky? I couldn't tell watching the movie...

Fiona Dourif: There is almost no CGI. Chucky is absolutely still a puppet. He will remain to be. There are one or two CGI shots, and that is it. He will remain a puppet. Don Mancini is really devoted to that.

Now, how did it come about that you are in the movie? Did they just want to keep the family legacy tied to the franchise?

Fiona Dourif: (Laughs) I get this question a lot. I can only tell you my side of the story. I was forwarded the script from my agent. He was like, "Pick a role." I auditioned for Barb at first. I guess Don Mancini thought I'd be better for Nica. I didn't really know Don. I met him once or twice when I was a kid, but I don't really remember it. We thought I would be good for Nica, so I want in and read for the part. I thought it went terribly, actually. I walked out and went, "Well, there you go." He didn't think that, though, He thought I was what he was looking for. So I had to come back and read for the studio again. The big note was, "You have to be more likeable. You have to be more pretty and likeable." So my manager took me shopping. She made me go to this make-up artist, who, for $85, taught me how to put on make-up and false eyelashes and stuff. This is something I should have been doing a long time ago. But this was the final straw, when I went in and tested for the studio. Then, I ended up getting it. And I was more excited than when I got the Paul Thomas Anderson film. Because of the family legacy, and my dad was involved, I was so excited.

I don't know...Watching these movies, having a character that is a little bit unlikable is okay...Isn't it?

Fiona Dourif: I don't think they were necessarily saying...I get what they wanted. They wanted the heroine to be pretty and likable. And I have a tendency to be a little darker than what network television is looking for...Much to my chagrin...I would love to be on a network show. And make money.

Who wouldn't want to do that?

Fiona Dourif: (Laughs) I know. I just don't want people to think it's beneath me. I would totally do it.

You're in a wheelchair through the whole movie pretty much. Are there certain challenges that come with having to act in a wheelchair in a high action horror movie? Or was it a blessing, seeing as how you had to sit through fifteen takes before Chucky got it right?

Fiona Dourif: Yeah, I get to be comfortable the whole time. This was the second time I have played a paraplegic in a movie. I played one in a TV movie a few years ago. The challenges had to do with the physicality of dragging myself up and down stairs. I got pretty beaten up in a few places. Other than that, the chair does the work for you. I felt paraplegic, because I was always in that wheel chair. It wasn't something I thought about all that much. I was trying to play a character that didn't define herself as someone in a wheelchair. She sees herself as a girl that is trying to get laid, and trying to get her family together, and she's trying to live a normal life...And then Chucky's delivered.

And I'll end on that note! Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit.

Fiona Dourif: Cool! Please don't make me sound crazy.