By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Tonight, the deadly doll returns to the USA Network and Syfy as CHUCKY begins its second season. There’s a new setting, new characters–and the return of some old ones–in the latest round of episodes, and RUE MORGUE took part in a roundtable interview with creator Don Mancini to discuss them.
The first season of CHUCKY was lauded for its combination of stylish horror and wicked humor, as well as for its inclusivity, as it focused on the burgeoning relationship between young heroes Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) and Devon Evans (Bjorgvin Arnarson). We rejoin the duo and their friend Lexy Cross (Alyvia Alyn Lind) in the first episode as Chucky comes back into their lives, and at its end, tragic circumstances lead them to be shipped off to a Catholic reform school for juvenile offenders. Needless to say, Chucky (voiced as always by Brad Dourif) follows them there, and Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) also returns to the fray; CHUCKY season two additionally introduces new human incarnations of Glen and Glenda (both played by Lachlan Watson). And beyond that, Tilly will be joined in episode four by Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano, her co-stars from BOUND, the 1996 lesbian crime thriller that launched the filmmakers then known as the Wachowski Brothers.
What can you tell us about the BOUND reunion that’s coming this season?
That was a lot of fun to do. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it, but it’s something I’ve been toying with for a while. I had met some of these people through Jennifer over the years, and I’ve actually known Gina though my friend Mike Werb, who was one of the writers on FACE/OFF; that’s how I first met Gina, like 25 years ago. So it was fun to be able to bring these actors together again, these actors who meant so much to me as a gay movie fan. I love BOUND, I love the Wachowskis, I love the characters that Jennifer, Gina and Joey play in that film, so it was fun to be able to bring them back together, and it was so much fun to be able to work with them as a writer and director. That was a dream come true. Again, I can’t say too much about what’s going on in the story there, but I think people are really going to enjoy it.
Could you tease a little bit about what we can expect from Glen and Glenda this season, and their relationships with Tiffany and Chucky?
Well, we really start getting into that in episode four; that’s when we really start to drill down into those relationships. Working with Lachlan Watson, who plays both Glen and Glenda, was a blast. They’re completely amazing in those roles, and there were times when we were doing it when it felt like, even though I had to explain the references, it felt like THE PATTY DUKE SHOW or BEWITCHED. It was relatively simple split-screen effects that aren’t so simple when you actually have to do them. It’s surprisingly complicated, and Lachlan fortunately just took to it like a duck to water–not only being able to play these two different characters, but the technical challenges of having to play opposite himself. Lachlan would typically be in costume as Glenda, and we’d do the Glenda side of the scene, and then they would have to be sent off to hair and makeup for an hour and a half to do the transformation into Glen. So we would always have to be careful to schedule other stuff to shoot during that hour and a half, waiting for Lachlan to come back to us as Glen.
It was this constant challenge, but it was a lot of fun, and it’s really fun to see the final version of it. You know, it’s so simple in a way; it’s the sort of stuff I did even as a kid, just experimenting with the camera and locking it off, and I would have my sisters do BEWITCHED things, like they would snap [their fingers] and disappear. So it was nice that none of that nonsense from my childhood was wasted [laughs]; that finally paid off in season two of CHUCKY!
And more importantly, I hope that our queer audience, our trans audience, will really love these characters and the performances that Lachlan gives. I hope they love it as much as I do, because it was really important to us that we honor the trans experience with these characters.
What can you tease for the next season about what’s coming for Jake, for Devon, or maybe somebody else who’s joining the group, in terms of queer relationships?
All of us who work on the show were so excited that the Jake and Devon romance–“Jevon”–worked as well as it did. The fans responded very positively, so I wanted to continue that relationship, and I wanted to be personal with it and honor some of my own experiences, because as a teen horror fan, I so wished that I could have seen some representation for myself, watching this stuff. It’s great that the world has evolved, that we can do this now, and we can do it fairly casually, which is awesome.
I wanted to show that one of the struggles that young gay people often have is tension with their faith, and as a kid who was raised Catholic I certainly had that, where I had authority figures waving their fingers at me officially, telling me that I was bad and going to hell. I wanted to look at what that was like for a young gay kid, or two gay kids in a relationship, in a budding romance, and what that kind of stress does to a relationship. So it gets very fraught for them, even without having to defend themselves against multiple Chucky dolls who want to kill them. Those poor boys have a lot going on [laughs]! So I think fans will enjoy seeing the progression of their relationship, and I think Glen and Glenda as well; their situation is very interesting, and as I said earlier, it was important to all of us, including Lachlan, that we honor the trans experience through our own cockeyed, metaphorical lens.
I’m very curious about the nun played by Lara Jean Chorostecki; is that a character we’re going to see developed as the series goes on, and will we get a better understanding if she’s good or bad?
Oh yeah! She’s got a lot going on, that character. I love L.J.; I worked with her on HANNIBAL, and we really hit it off, and I’ve been trying to get her into the CHUCKY franchise ever since. It was great that it finally worked out. We basically wrote this for her, and it’s hard to talk about because I don’t want to give away things, but she has a lot going on, that character, and she really knocks it out of the park.