As I sat in room 200 waiting for the CHILD’S PLAY panel to start, there was one question on my mind. Would this be the day we would find out who the new voice of Chucky will be? We’ve been waiting for months, we’ve been hanging on every press release, we were dying to know!
And we were not let down! Not only did we find out who would be voicing our ‘friend till the end’, but we learned so much more!
The panel started with host Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly introducing us to the cast and crew, which included writer Tyler Burton Smith, stars Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman, producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg, and director Lars Klevberg. After a few opening jokes and introductions, we were treated to an exclusive sizzle reel, with a very cool ending… the announcement that Mark Hamill will be the new voice of Chucky!
Now, of course, this left some people scratching their head “Luke Skywalker as the voice of Chucky, I don’t get it”, but those of us truly in the know are aware of Mark’s voice acting chops, most notably his work as the Joker for Batman: The Animated Series. He’s even voiced Chucky once before for the Robot Chicken parody, but he’s assured us that while the Robot Chicken Chucky “was a homage to the great Brad Dourif version I love, the new Child’s Play movie is a reboot with a completely different origin for the new Chucky”. We have no doubt that Mark will do an amazing job as our favorite killer doll, and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the character.
The second major fan question that was answered was regarding the use of CGI, or lack of it. Fans have been worried about how much would be used to bring the new Chucky to life, and the answer is..not much. Producer Seth Grahame-Smith told us that “we wanted to do as much animatronic doll as possible. We didn’t want this to be CGI craptacular”. And it’s safe to say that the fans in the room were relieved. Apparently, they had 9-10 dolls ready to go at all times, in fact, they even had their own trailer. And although Lars described it as “a daunting task” to work with so many dolls and puppeteers, everyone agreed that it was totally worth it.
Another thing we learned was how different the new script would be. Tyler Burton Smith had to reimagine the classic 80’s story for modern audiences, and from what we can tell, he did a great job. So great in fact that Orion fast-tracked the production, with a period of only six months between the first meeting to the first day of production. During an interview after the panel, I asked Tyler what the most challenging thing about updating the script to modern times was. He told me that “because you have this toolbox of what this doll can do, it’s interaction with technology, the tricky thing was making sure this still felt like a Child’s Play movie and avoiding at all costs making it feel like a miniature Terminator movie.” In fact, it was Tyler’s script that first intrigued director Lars Klevberg. I was able to ask him about that, and he told me that it was “the way the characters are portrayed, including Chucky” that really hooked him. “I really connected with him, I think he found a great spot in this universe we brought him into, and I really rooted for him in many ways, I connected with him as a character, and he has a really great and interesting arch”.
The other big change we learned about has to do with our main characters Andy (Gabriel Bateman) and Karen (Aubrey Plaza). In this version Andy is older, 13 years old instead of 6, and he’s way more on his own than in the 1988 version. This time around he has to face Chucky and the problems that come with owning a killer doll without his mom by his side. But apparently he does have a little bit of help from the neighborhood kids, and we are totally here for a Goonies/IT ‘kids kicking ass’ addition to this story. Gabriel mentioned during the panel that this version of Andy is “introverted and insecure”, and that Chucky is really Andy’s first friend. He went on to say that his character has a “strong, emotional attachment” to Chucky and that Chucky is almost like Andy’s child, which when you think about how this story plays out, really kinda sucks for him.
What we don’t know yet is just how “connected” this tech Chucky will be. Seth told us during the panel that, Kaslan Corp (the company that makes the dolls), is a company responsible for making all sorts of technology, and that their technology is connected. Does this mean Chucky will be able to control other types of tech? Will he be able to make other Kaslan Corp products work for him, creating his own army of robot minions?!? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out when CHILD’S PLAY hits theaters on June 21, 2019.