When “Chucky” comes to Syfy as a dramatic horror series, the new arm of the franchise will dive into the backstory of Charles Lee Ray, aka the titular doll’s human form who was also known as the Lakeshore Strangler (despite not actually choosing strangulation as his method or murder).
“Exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origins has been something that the fans have wanted to see, literally for decades now, and one of the reasons I was excited about bringing the franchise into television was because having so much storytelling real estate — eight hours of ‘Chucky’ — will provide it such a great opportunity for exploring that stuff,” creator and showrunner Don Mancini said during a Television Critics Assn. press tour panel for the show.
In addition to going back in time with Charles Lee Ray (including showing his first kill), the show will also feature the evolution of him as Chucky, who gets brought into the home of teenage Jake (Zackary Arthur), becoming Jake’s new “best friend until the end.” Naturally, that means Chucky will begin to target those who are harming Jake, whether physically or emotionally or both. The series, Mancini said, uses Chucky as a “metaphor for bullying,” focusing on the doll himself as the ultimate bully.
Mancini was adamant that the show would “be able to retain all of the aspects of the franchise that the fans love — one of which is the gore, the other of which, of course, is Chucky’s propensity for dropping f-bombs.” The series will air on cabler Syfy, which he said did not require compromise on that vision. However, he noted that Chucky’s first kill in the series was deliberately a gore-less one “because Jake said, ‘I can’t stand the sight of blood.’ So, Chucky accommodates his new friend to the end by committing a bloodless murder. I thought that’s Chucky’s idea of being thoughtful.”
In addition to Arthur, “Chucky” stars many actors new to the franchise, including Devon Sawa, Bjorgvin Arnarson, Teo Briones and Alyvia Alyn Lind. But Brad Dourif is back as the voice of Chucky, Fiona Dourif will return as Nica Pierce, Christine Elise will return as Kyle, Alex Vincent will return as Andy Barclay, and Jennifer Tilly will also be reprising her role of Tiffany Valentine aka Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend and the Bride of Chucky. Tilly said she doesn’t “show up until halfway through,” though.
“Of course my worry was dying on the show because both of my characters are giant assholes,” Sawa said about playing twins, Jake’s father and his uncle. “You hope for the best death scene possible.”
Added Mancini: “We also have a habit of bringing actors back in different roles from movie to movie. We were doing that before Ryan Murphy started doing that with the repertory company he puts together on ‘American Horror Story,’ so even if someone dies, they can come back in another role. I started doing that with Jennifer back in the ’90s: she first played Tiffany, she got killed twice — actually she got killed first as a human, then as a doll and bringing her back in four successive movies and now eight hours of TV.”
The “Chucky” series was announced as in the works in January 2019. Six months later a new film premiered — a reboot of “Child’s Play,” which had Mark Hamill voicing Chucky. Although it was based on Mancini’s previous work, he was not involved in it, either. Tilly noted this new film did put a “crimp in things a little bit” for the series because suddenly there was a question about where the show, which was already being worked on, would belong in the overall universe. But she said, “They came out with New Coke and everyone liked Coke Classic better, so they bought back the Old Coke and now they call it a Coke Classic. I think it’s a similar thing.”
“Chucky” premieres Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. on Syfy.