Dan Mancini is finally giving the hordes of fans of the “Chucky” franchise exactly what they have wanted for decades.
Since he created the demon doll way back in 1988, Chucky has been a terror through eight movies. Those films have built a following who have hounded Mancini to tell the story of serial killer Charles Lee Ray who when near death transferred his soul into a child-size doll.
They don’t have to hound him anymore. That element of the Chucky mythology finally will be examined through the new USA/SYFY series “Chucky” slated to debut at 10 p.m. Oct. 12 on the cable channels.
Mancini says, “One of the reasons I was excited about taking the franchise into the medium of television was because having so much storytelling real estate – eight hours of ‘Chucky’ – provided such a great opportunity for exploring that stuff, among other stuff.
“One of the things I was most excited about doing with the show was exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origin.”
In the new television series, an idyllic American town is thrown into chaos after a vintage “Good Guy” doll turns up at a suburban yard sale. Soon, everyone must deal with a series of horrifying murders that begin to expose the town’s deep hypocrisies and hidden secrets.
Friends and foes from Chucky’s past creep back into his world and threaten to expose the truth behind his mysterious origins as a seemingly ordinary child who somehow became this notorious monster.
Television gave Mancini the opportunity to go longer and deeper into the story of his murderous creation. The only thing that gave him pause was how to bring the bloody tales that have been shown in theaters into the TV world where there are more boundaries.
Mancini was assured by USA and SYFY the blood, gore and profanity would not be a problem.
“When I had worked on both ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Channel Zero,’ which are both also under the NBCUniversal umbrella, I was shocked and kind of encouraged and excited to see how the boundaries could get pushed,” Mancini says. “So, there will be no compromise with that regard.”
Jennifer Tilly, who provides the voice for Chucky’s love interest Tiffany Valentine, will be part of the TV series. She explains that there is a huge team responsible for all the blood used in the productions.
Along with Tilly, Brad Dourif returns to provide the voice for Chucky. He never thought he still would be dealing with the character 33 years later.
“You never think that. You take it really just one movie at a time. And sometimes it looks like the show’s going to go on forever, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Dourif says. “I know that there were some really good ideas that never got shot, that Don told me. So, it’s not like it was a sure thing every moment.
“But Chucky’s an icon.”
Staying with a character for more than three decades comes with some problems, especially when the actor must provide a very specific voice. Dourif recalls how at the start, he was pressed to make the voice higher and higher.
Since then, some adjustments have been made to the way Chucky speaks.
Dourif says, “My voice is changing. I’m getting older. I’m 71. So, I have to constantly adjust for how my voice is. Originally, Chucky was from Chicago, and so I had a Chicago rasp and so forth.
“Now, he’s, oddly, kind of moving more toward New Jersey. I wonder why? And, so, his accent is a little bit more New Jersey.”
Dourif has found the voice work he did in “Cult of Chucky” in 2017 as the best baseline for the character. He will watch that film before going into the recording booth.
Although Dourif has done a wide assortment of acting jobs including “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and “Jungle Fever,” he has always treated the “Chucky’ franchise with great respect.
Tilly owes a debt to Dourif for helping her understand what it means to be voice talents for the characters.
“When I first started doing this, I didn’t want to do a Chucky movie. I didn’t really know what they were. I’d never seen one before,” Tilly says. “And then I read the script and I thought wow, this is the most amazing script.
“When I met Brad, I’d never done voice-over before. And they had us both in these booths so we could both talk at the same time and ad lib and improvise. And Brad is a brilliant, Oscar-nominated actor. And it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m a doll and you’re a doll. Let’s knock this off and go spend our paycheck.’ He really took it seriously.”