During the press conference for the highly-anticipated reboot of Child’s Play, we got to learn how Mark Hamill came to take on the role of the legendary horror figure, Chucky, and what it was like stepping into the big shoes that previous Chucky actor, Brad Dourif, left behind for him to fill. More importantly, we learned what kind of influences Hamill used when approaching a role that could have easily gone the more cheesy route as fans of the doll have seen in the previous sequels of the franchise.
For many a horror fan, the idea of anyone except Brad Dourif voicing the killer doll Chucky seemed blasphemous. A dishonor on a legacy that could not be tampered with. Seeing how Dourif developed the character over the course of the Child’s Play franchise was a real treat, especially when he was allowed to explore the more silly side of the diabolically, murderous Charles Lee Ray. However, it made sense for Orion Pictures to pursue a new vocal talent when approaching the idea of a reboot of the horror franchise. When it was revealed that actor Mark Hamill would be taking on the role of voicing the frightening Buddi doll, Chucky, many were excited to see what he would be able to come up with for the iconic doll’s voice. However, with excitement comes pressure, and Hamill definitely felt a lot of pressure upon agreeing to the role of voicing Chucky, especially knowing that many would compare his interpretation to Dourif’s Chucky.
“[W]hen I agreed to it, and it sunk in that they wanted me to do this, I felt intimidation like I hadn’t felt since I did the Joker. When I auditioned for the Joker, ‘There’s no way they were going to cast this icon of virtue, Luke Skywalker, as the Joker. Forget about it.’ So, 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.’ I didn’t feel that kind of intimidation until it sunk in that I was doing this because, you know, the originals have such partisan following. There are people that said, ‘You can’t touch this. You’re no Brad Dourif,’ which I agree. I love Brad, but it’s a great responsibility so I’m anxious to see how people react. It’s not the Chucky that we all know from before.”
Mark Hamill further explained what initially drew him to the project by revealing that he had received a letter from director Lars Klevberg, who had laid out his vision to Hamill before a script was even sent to him. The element that stood out the most to him that he found to be the most crucial for helping him start developing his interpretation of Chucky was the new origin story that the character had been given. There was no soul of a serial killer trying to outwit death and cause intentional chaos all around him. No. This new origin story painted the Buddi doll in a far more innocent and childlike light, which gave Hamill, Klevberg, and the producers room to play around when it came time to start tackling the voiceover sessions. The process itself was collaborative and a challenge in figuring out how the voice changed throughout the film depending on the character’s evolution, but it was a team effort.
“We always try and be guided by the script and I have Lars and three producers that were all together and it’s really sort of an open collaboration. I would try to do maybe five in a row and do slightly different nuances. The interesting thing is to see it assembled and what choices they made, because he pretty much stays innocent throughout the film and then early on you’re doing things like, “If I can’t be your friend, then nobody can.” But I would try and give them, it’s really like giving them jigsaw puzzle pieces that they can assemble later to their liking. They held my hand through the process. Obviously, they know what they want much better than I did. But like I say, I love challenges.”
With the new direction taken for Chucky’s origin story, the vocal performance provided by Mark Hamill perfectly captures the childlike innocence that director Lars Klevberg and the producers were going for in the film. With the performance Hamill gave, it will be difficult not to sympathize with the doll as it tries to figure out how to operate in a world where there are no safety measures and where there are always unexpected surprises waiting around every corner. And if that’s not horrifying, I’m not sure what is.
The film stars Mark Hamill (Star Wars franchise), Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West, Legion, Parks and Recreation) as Karen, Emmy and Tony nominee Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Mike, and Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, American Gothic) as Andy.
The contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 horror classic is directed by Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) from a script by Tyler Burton Smith (Kung Fury, Quantum Break video game) that is based on the original motion picture. Bear McCreary is composing the score. David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith produce under their KatzSmith Productions banner. Aaron Schmidt and Chris Ferguson executive produce. Child’s Play slashes its way into theaters June 21st.