When it comes to horror, one of the most iconic characters is that of Chucky. When it was announced last year that a new adaptation of CHILD’S PLAY, directed by Lars Klevberg, was in the works it was met with resistance from fans who believed that the franchise should be kept with the original creator of Chucky, Don Mancini. However, the majority of the push-back came to a halt when in March it was announced that legendary actor Mark Hamill would be the new voice of Chucky. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a press junket for the upcoming film where Mark Hamill discussed what it was like to become the famous killer doll.
“I got a letter from Lars [Klevberg] and he already laid out his vision for the film before I’d read it and then they sent me the script,” explained Hamill. “In this one, Chucky has a different origin. It’s not the soul of a serial killer. It’s someone deliberately going in and altering his operating system to takes off the safety measures. [Chucky] was really like an innocent child just learning from what goes on around him. I thought that was crucial.”
Not only was this origin story for Chucky different than that of the 1988 film, but Andy, played by Gabriel Bateman, would also experience a change to his storyline. “The age of [Andy] instead of being five or six, is a young teenager and that was, I thought, a very fundamental difference from the original.” Hamill goes on to further explain, “[Gabriel] does an amazing job, I have to say. When I read it I said, ‘If they don’t find the right actor to play Andy, the whole thing falls apart because you see it through his eyes.’ When you see this guy, I mean he is spectacular. He’s so authentic, so genuine and sympathetic that it’s really unfortunate he got such a messed up toy.”
Bringing Chucky to life ended up being a collaborative process that both Hamill, Klevberg, and the producers worked together on. “We always try and be guided by the script and I have Lars and three producers that were all together [which allowed] for open collaboration. I would try and do maybe five [voices] in a row and do slightly different nuances,” explained Hamill. “The interesting thing [was] to see it assembled and the choices that were made because [Chucky] stays pretty much innocent throughout the film. It’s really like giving [the team] jigsaw puzzle pieces that they can assemble later to their liking.”
Having done voice-over work for such recognizable characters as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, one would think that taking on the role of Chucky would be no problem. Hamill explained that that wasn’t necessarily the case. “When I agreed to [become Chucky] and it sunk in that they wanted me to do this, I felt intimidation like I hadn’t felt since I did the Joker. I did the Joker after the backlash of people being mad before they even saw [Michael Keaton]. [They] would say, ‘Michael Keaton’s a comedy actor, [he] can’t play Batman.” So I thought when I auditioned for the Joker that there’s no way they were going to cast this icon virtue. Luke Skywalker as the Joker, forget about it. I had no performance anxiety cause I knew they couldn’t hire me, it’s only when they hired me that I really felt, ‘Oh no, I can’t do this’ because so many people had expectations of what he’s supposed to sound like.”
Furthermore, not only did Hamill find that bringing Chucky to life was a challenge he enjoyed, but he also learned the impact of taking on such a beloved character. “I didn’t feel that kind of intimidation until it sunk in that I was doing [CHILD’S PLAY] because, you know, the originals have such a partisan following. There are people that said, ‘You can’t touch this,’ or ‘You’re no Brad Dourif’ which I agree. I love Brad, but it’s a great responsibility. I’m anxious to see how people react. It’s not the Chucky that we all know from before.”
CHILD’S PLAY is a new adaptation of the 1988 film directed by Lars Klevberg based on characters created by Don Mancini with a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith. The film stars Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman and Brian Tyree Henry and will arrive in theaters June 21, 2019.