CHUCKY, the horror comedy series about a killer doll, his likewise homicidal ex, and the people trying to stop them, returns for its second season on Syfy Wednesday, October 5.
Created for television by Don Mancini, who crafted the premise on the original 1988 feature film CHILD’S PLAY, wrote its sequels and wrote/directed all of the CHUCKY spinoff movies, CHUCKY sees the possessed toy (voiced as always by Brad Dourif) tormenting teenagers Jake Wheeler, played by Zachary Arthur, and Devon Evans, played by Bjorgvin Arnarson. Chucky has also managed to get his soul into multiple Chucky dolls.
* At the start of Season 2, Jake is living with a foster family, as Chucky killed Zack’s father (and Devon’s mother) in Season 1. Jake and Devon are now a couple, despite the fact that they live hours away from each other and neither has a car.
Then Chucky gets Jake, Devon and their friend Lexi Cross (Alyvia Alyn Lind) blamed for yet another killing really committed by the doll. The three are sent off to a Catholic reform school, where Chucky also gets himself sent (literally – he’s become a package shipping genius).
Arnarson has previously had roles in the films THE SEVENTH DAY and TRIP.
Arthur, a Los Angeles native, has credits that include the features THE 5TH WAVE, MOM AND DAD, and HERO DOG: THE JOURNEY HOME, and the series TRANSPARENT and KIDDING (as the young version of the character played by Jim Carrey).
Both actors separately get on a Zoom call arranged by Syfy to talk CHUCKY Season 2.
Were Arthur and Arnarson confident that CHUCKY would get picked up for a second season, or was that a happy surprise?
By the end of shooting Season 1, Arthur says, “We all knew that [CHUCKY] was going to be something, just because of how great the writing was, and with so many great actors on the show, and Don directing. We knew it would do well, but we didn’t know it would do that well. And so, it was interesting to see the feedback, and it’s been really good. It was really exciting when we found out that we were officially being picked up for Season 2.”
Arnarson feels he doesn’t have much to add. “What he said.”
How did Arnarson and Arthur feel about setting so much of Season 2 in a Catholic boarding reformatory school?
Arnarson says that often, the first scripts the actors receive differ from what is ultimately shot. “When we got the script, most of the time, the script is not really going to be the final product. There are a lot of things that go into it.” Even so, “Most of the script is going to happen. So, when I read it, I was like, ‘Damn, this is about to be a wild ride.’ There are a lot of fun things that are going to happen in this season, and I’m pretty excited for you guys to see it.”
Arthur agrees. “Yeah. When I first saw the script, the same thing. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is going to be crazy. People are not going to be ready for this.’” He laughs. “I remember, we used to have the conversations with Don about where he was going to take Season 2, and things that would happen. And we had all these different ideas, and the idea came up one day, I think we were filming in the theater in [Season 1] Episode 8, and he was like, “Okay, how about we have it in a Catholic school?’ It’s interesting to see how that idea developed over time, and became this whole great spectacle. So, I’m really excited for people to see it.”
Devon Sawa previously played both Jake’s father and uncle in Season 1. Both of those characters are now dead, but Sawa returns to CHUCKY as the priest in charge of the Catholic school.
“It’s great to have Devon Sawa back,” Arthur enthuses. “With this new character that he’s playing, one thing that’s great about him is, he can go and create any [personality] that he wants, and I hope he comes back in Season 3.”
Arnarson notes that he did not get to share many scenes with Sawa in the first season. So, in Season 2, “I was kind of working for the first time. I have more scenes with him, so it was fun to see his process, and how he works around his characters.”
The Season 2 screeners provided to the press for the first four episodes were not the final versions, meaning that the puppeteers operating Chucky on set had not yet been painted over with VFX. The actors, however, interact with Chucky as though he’s real and unaccompanied by handlers. How hard is it to ignore the puppeteers during the shoot?
Arnarson says, “It isn’t too bad, because usually the puppeteers – we always call them “ninjas” or “green men,” they’re always wearing all black or all green, depending on what they need to do – they stay almost out of the way, so you’re focusing on Chucky’s face. They never cover his face, you can just look at that, and it’s always fun, because one of the puppeteers, I think Gord [Robertson], he’s always there, mumbling [Chucky’s] lines underneath, so I can hear it in real time, so it helps me. When I first had to work with the doll, it was a little bit awkward, only because the robot glitched sometimes, and didn’t say its line.”
The Chucky doll is actually programmed to speak on set, Arnarson confirms. “The mouth moves around, and there’s dialogue on set sometimes. There’s an audio file that they already have, or someone just says it. It’s pretty cool. After I got into it, it was pretty easy to know when it was going to say its line, wait a second, then let it do its thing, and then do your thing, and it’s a nice little pattern and rhythm to hit it.”
Season 2 finds Jake and Devon at odds about how to proceed with their relationship. Now that they’re under one roof, Devon wants to go full speed ahead with their romance. But between his overwhelming guilt about the whole ongoing Chucky havoc (he did bring the doll into everyone’s lives when he bought it at a garage sale, after all) and his fear that they’ll be sent to juvenile prison if they break the church school rules, Jake is reluctant to be affectionate, much less be open about it.
Arnarson observes, “It was interesting to be able to play that, because it’s set up to be that we both have opposite [views] of this. We have problems. It’s hard for Devon to try to get it into Jake’s head that he wants to just do it. But Jake obviously, understandably, he’s guilty, and so he doesn’t want to worry about that. He wants to worry about just being guilty about the situation he’s in, and I think that that goes into a bigger problem with their relationship. I can’t say what, but something comes into the relationship that will kind of explode that rift they have and,” Arnarson makes the sound of an explosion and spreads his hands wide apart, “bust it open.”
Arthur teases that Jake and Devon will face “adversity towards the Catholic Church. Because in the series, we know that the Catholic Church isn’t exactly accepting of those types of relationships. And it’s going to be interesting for people to see that, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that affects Jake and Devon’s relationship in the series.”
It’s still unusual to see a gay male romance between teens be front and center in a TV series, especially in the horror genre. This has made Jake and Devon iconic characters in the real-world LGBTQ community. What has that fan reaction been like to experience?
I was amazed, honestly,” Arnarson replies, “to see the feedback and the support. Because going into it, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m sweating everywhere. I’m so nervous of how to portray this.’ So, seeing how well it’s been received, it’s crazy, to see fan art, see [fan videos], see people messaging about how they feel included. It’s just crazy to say, ‘I did that.’ It’s crazy how I was able to portray that and do it well.”
Arthur elaborates, “One of the great things about this show is that, one way or another, I think people can empathize with [at least] one of the characters, because there are a lot of things that the story deals with, and I think that’s very important. It deals with it in a very realistic way as well, and it’s not thrown in your face, like a big spectacle, but I think it’s very important that TV shows insert underlying messages.” He punctuates this with a laugh to indicate that the messaging is not heavy-handed.
This isn’t the only source of conflict in the Jake/Devon relationship. They, and Lexy, plus new ally Nadine (Bella Higginbotham), all disagree on how to handle unforeseen new aspects of their Chucky problem.
Arthur doesn’t want to say too much about this before the episodes air, but allows, “It’s interesting to see how that affects the friend group, because Jake and Nadine are the two characters that are, I guess, more into it than Devon and Lexy, who are skeptical about the whole situation. And I think it’s going to be interesting for the audience to see all of that, because I bet the audience is going to be split half and half, too. I think that’s one of the biggest plot points that we get to play with, and how that affects everybody’s relationships.”
Arnarson says, “Devon understands, I think, a little bit of Jake’s process and why he wants to solve this problem in a different way. But Devon’s like, ‘No. All we can do is kill him, and then kill him again, and then kill him again. There’s no way to change that.’”
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