CULT OF CHUCKY: Killer Performance

Cult of Chucky: Killer Performance

 

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Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky

Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky

 

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Three Rounds with Chucky

Three Rounds with Chucky:

Everyone's favorite devil-doll joins EW for a killer night out

The star of ‘Child’s Play,’ the scariest killer-doll franchise of all-time, downs some brew (and takes a stab at some questions) in our filthiest and most fatal interview ever

With his distinctive blue overalls, ginger hair, and maniacal stare, Chucky is hard to miss as he walks through the door of Los Angeles’ Black bar to hoist three rounds with EW — at least, he’s hard to miss once you remember to look down. Not that the only-needs-one-name movie megastar has any regrets about his lack of stature preventing him from, say, fully enjoying amusement parks. “I don’t like roller coasters,” he says. “It’s hard to flee the scene of the crime when you’re strapped into it.” Chucky’s not joking. In 1988’s Child’s Play, the “Good Guys” doll was possessed by the spirit of a serial killer and embarked on a murder spree. That cavalcade of carnage has continued through six sequels, including 1998’s Katherine Heigl-costarring Bride of Chucky and the just-released, Don Mancini-directed Cult of Chucky (now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital platforms), which features franchise veterans Fiona Dourif, her father Brad, Alex Vincent, and actress-turned-poker-tournament regular Jennifer Tilly. In person, Chucky is doll — sorry, droll — company, but rumors of a short fuse prove true. The star becomes increasingly irritated by the presence of photographer Jeff Minton (apparently, Chucky’s publicist neglected to mention a snapper would be present) and turns positively terrifying after EW asks what it is like to work with Tilly. “The woman’s a genius,” says Chucky. “But she doesn’t want it getting out. For poker. Crap, now I’m gonna have to kill you. Seriously.” Oof, let’s hope he’s a good drunk.

ROUND 1: Pabst Blue Ribbon

JEFF MINTON FOR EW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:  Cult of Chucky is set in a mental institution. Do you think you might benefit from therapy?
CHUCKY: I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that would make me need therapy.

How do you explain the longevity of the Child’s Play franchise? What’s the special sauce?
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s on account of me. What can I say? Chicks dig me.

How do you think you’ve evolved as a performer over the course of the franchise? Do you feel like you’ve grown? (No pun intended.)
I’ve gotten really into improv. Comedians come up with the funniest s— when you pull out a knife on stage. But yes, I’ve evolved. I’d like to take on King Learone day. And Newsies.

What did you spend your first big movie-star paycheck on?
Bail. And a fitted tuxedo. In that order.

How do you relax?
A little light stalking. Maybe a simple strangulation. And some weed. Notnecessarily in that order.

Are you a good cook? What’s your go-to dish for entertaining?
Hamburger Helper, but instead of hamburger, I use people. No, seriously. I rarely entertain.

What’s the best and worst thing about being famous?
The best thing? Meeting the fans. The worst thing? Getting rid of their corpses.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done while drunk?
Hooking up with Katherine Heigl.

What do people say to you when they recognize you in the street?
“Hey, Chucky, what ever happened to Katherine Heigl?”

ROUND 2: Bloody Mary

JEFF MINTON FOR EW

As you don’t have a birth certificate, are you ever worried about being deported?
Not really. It would give me a chance to experiment. I’ve always wanted to kill on an international scale. I’m so famous here in the States. Sometimes I miss the anonymity, you know? The simple things, like being able to roll out of bed and kill someone on the way to Starbucks.

While we’re on that subject: How old are you exactly? (My editor made me ask.)
Let me put it this way… I take a baby aspirin every day. Gotta stay smart about heart health, you know?

Do you ever wish you were a different doll? 
Sometimes I wish I was a Ken doll. Only because I wouldn’t have to wear these f—in’ overalls anymore.

Who would win in a fight between you and Annabelle?
Annabelle’s a showboat — all sizzle and no steak. She can make the lights flicker. Big deal.

How do you feel about the Babadook becoming a gay icon?
Hey, I did it before it was cool.

How come we never see you and Brad Dourif in the same room?
Contractual reasons. We don’t get along.

What’s the first thing you would do as president?
I would encourage the Senate to bring me a plan to boost infrastructure over the next 10 years that would result in government-subsidized training, job growth, and bipartisan support. I’d also make murder legal.

ROUND 3: “Fireball and a knife”

(This turns out to be a request for Fireball whisky and an actual knife, which Chucky uses to fatally stab EW’s photographer.)

JEFF MINTON FOR EW

Uh, I guess you’re ready for this interview to be over. Just a few more questions before the police arrive: What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Scrub the blood from my fingernails. Start the day fresh, you know?

Have you ever met Chuckie from Rugrats?
No. I don’t hang out with babies as a rule. And cartoon babies? Forget it.

Which celebrity do you most want to meet? And why?
The Biebs. So I can finally put an end to our long national nightmare.

How come you’ve never been a pitchman for Chuck E. Cheese’s?
Because those animatronics freak me the f— out.

Whose posters did you have on your wall when you were growing up?
Bundy, Dahmer, the Coreys. You know, all the greats.

Do you ever worry that you’re giving ginger-haired people a bad name?
Do you ever worry that you’re giving journalists a bad name?

How are things between yourself and your girlfriend Tiffany these days?
None of your damn business. We’re just good friends. Next question.

What’s your favorite sexual position?
The Reverse Chucky. It’s my own design. The Dirty Puppet is a close second.

What are you packing “downstairs”?
I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.

Which superhero do you most identify with, and why?
Loki. Take a f—ing guess.

Editor’s note: Senior writer Clark Collis disappeared two days after filing this interview.

JEFF MINTON FOR EW

Original Article


BROKE HORROR FAN: Interview - Tony Gardner (Cult of Chucky, Hocus Pocus)

Interview: Tony Gardner (Cult of Chucky, Hocus Pocus)

Tony Gardner is the animatronic effects supervisor who brought Chucky to life in the new Cult of Chucky, as well as in previous entries Seed of Chucky and Curse of Chucky. We discuss his history with the killer doll and the latest installment in the franchise. He also reminisces about some of his past projects, including Hocus Pocus and The Return of the Living Dead.

Can you begin with a brief history of how you got involved in the Child’s Play franchise?

I came on board in a roundabout way in the beginning. [Producer] David Kirschner was pitching Bride of Chucky to Universal and wanted to do a display to have on the conference table when he did the presentation. It was classic Chucky holding Tiffany in his arms, like a groom carrying a bride through the threshold at a wedding. That’s how I met Chucky for the first time. We built that display, and then they went off and got the movie going, and I thought that was the end of it.

Then about three months before they were going to head off to Romania to shoot Seed of Chucky, I got a few cryptic phone calls asking about animatronic babies. That eventually segued into conversations, “Would you be interested in working on the next Child’s Play?” I said yes, even though they told me there are three animatronic characters that had to be finished in three months time and we’d be filming in another country. I thought it sounded like a blast, so I signed up - and here I am!

From your perspective, how does Cult of Chucky different from the previous entries?

I think all of the films are different in their own way. I think they’re almost all successful as standalone films. I feel like Don [Mancini, writer] introduces new characters each time to the Charles Lee Ray storyline, but you don’t necessarily have to know the entire history in order to follow the story. This one is different aesthetically. Storywise, I think it actually succeeds in combining the scary stuff along with the more serious things and the comedic side. That goes for the actors too. There’s a more comedic side to Jennifer Tilly’s character, and Fiona Dourif’s character is very serious, so the fact that Don was able to put of them in the same room to have a conversation with serious impact and gravity to it but still have Jennifer able to play the humorous sex kitten part at the same time, the mashup of all that is what makes this one really different. And he’s done it successfully, which makes it that much more enjoyable.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I really enjoyed how it brought together all of the storylines and characters from throughout the franchise while expanding the mythology.

Don doesn’t discount anything in any of the stories. He goes out of his way to reference all of them, sometimes in little ways. I think that’s really cool. He’s really the glue that holds the entire series together and makes it work, because he understands the characters so well. They live in his head; he knows how they talk and why they say what they say. If anyone is going to mix those worlds up and make it work, it’s going to be Don. Hats of to him for having the guts to dive in and give it a shot in the first place!

How has the advancement of technology changed how Chucky is brought to life?

It’s helped us a lot, because we’ve been able to use digital technology to erase the puppeteers from shots, especially in this last one, so that we can get closer to the puppet and do a better a performance with his physical moment. When we did Seed, all the characters are 100% animatronic and we operated through the floor. Almost all the puppeteers were underneath the set watching monitors in order to make it happen. We were pushing for some rod puppet work for some of the scenes, and we did one or two in that film, but people were still of the mind that you had to frame things certain ways. It felt very limiting.

Then when we did Curse of Chucky, we had some scenes on practical floors where we couldn’t get under the floor. We could be right on top of the character in order to put more life into them and then be digitally removed. And then with Cult, we had three of them operating at the same time. We have limited resources as far as animatronic puppeteers, so to be able to shoot each one separately and then combine things made life so much easier. It’s still complicated and hard, but to not have to frame based on where somebody is operating a puppet makes a huge difference in how you can film it. It impacts the performance as well. The advent of digital technology has really been our friend, because it’s an awesome tool for us to be able to take advantage of.

Don Mancini is primarily known for being a writer, but you’ve worked on all three films that he’s directed. How would you describe him on set?

He never loses his cool. I don’t get it! [laughs] He’s amazing on set. He’s very calm and very focused. He’s able to roll with the punches. He’s able to actually articulate what he wants, how he wants to do it, and, if anybody asks, he can explain why. He’s a really solid leader, and he has a really solid grasp of his subject matter. He’s super articulate in being able to tell all of us what he wants. Most importantly, he’s really calm and he stays very focused. He’s a really smart guy.

Your daughter, Kyra Elise Gardner, made a short documentary focusing on the familial aspects of the Child’s Play movies, which is included on the Cult of Chucky Blu-ray. I really enjoyed it and wanted to know if there’s any plan to turn it into a full-length documentary.

That’s Kyra’s goal, to do a feature documentary. She goes to Florida State University, and she was evacuated for the hurricane recently. We had two events go down with Chucky projects. Jennifer Tilly came to the opening of Halloween Horror Nights, and she agreed to sit down with Kyra for about an hour an hour half. She did a super in-depth interview with her. And then Kyra saw Fiona the following night for a Cult of Chucky panel at Monsterpalooza, and Fiona stuck around for about an hour and talked more about herself and her experiences, as opposed to the family dynamics that’s more the subject of the short documentary. I think Kyra is working on it as we speak. She’s getting stuff that a lot of people have never been able to get. More power to her!

Do you have a favorite effect that you’ve created, or one that stands out as being a particular point of pride?

Honestly, I think the half-corpse from Return of the Living Dead is a favorite, because I was in my early 20s and I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never done animatronics, and I had this really cool opportunity. I built like 80% of it myself; I had some friends help out with mechanics in the hands. It was a learn-as-you-go type of experience. I had an amazing design by William Stout to base it off of, and then I only had like two weeks to build it at night, becuase I had a real job during the day. It holds this warm spot in my heart. There’s nostalgia, but it’s also sort of a stepping-up-and-showing-what-you’re-made-of moment. I love the character too and how successfully we were able to bring her to life. I had never had the experience of going to set and puppeteering an animatronic character before. I really enjoyed it. Oddly enough, it’s Don Mancini’s favorite creature from a movie, so I think it did me well! [laughs]

I’d say so! As someone who worked on the original, how do you feel about the recent news that Disney is planning to reboot Hocus Pocus with a new cast?

It’s been conversations that have been ongoing for seven years, honestly. I feel like there’s a meeting once a year for it. The fact that they’ve finally announced something publicly means that they’re serious. There have been so many scripts over the years, the question is: which direction are they going to go? I know the fans all want to see the three witches, and it’s amazing how many girls want to see Billy Butcherson come back. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I’m super excited for it. It also makes me a little a nervous, because the whole idea of a sequel living up to an original is always daunting. Don Mancini has pulled it off, but not too many people have. The world is definitely a different place than when the first Hocus Pocus came out [in 1993], so if you’re going to put it in contemporary times, I’m curious as to how much adjusting of the content is going to need to take place and how that’s going to impact the characters. I’m excited, but I’m nervous!

In addition to the ones we’ve discussed, you’ve worked with several other iconic films and characters, like Aliens, Army of Darkness, and The Blob. Are there any other big franchises that you’d like to tackle?

I feel like we got to do a lot of really cool ones already. Darkman is a personal favorite as well. We’ve been able to do some cool animatronic ones and some cool prosthetic ones. On a selfish note, I think it would be really fun to have the opportunity to be involved in a lot of the genre films. We almost worked on a Friday the 13th reboot at one point. It was exciting to take over Chucky and keep him going, so I thought it would be interesting. There’s quite a few other horror icons out there that it would be a blast to bring back to life. But I feel I’ve been really fortunate at this point.

As a kid, I wanted to remake Planet of the Apes, but it’s been done a million times and now it’s a computer. If I had to pick a film to redo just for pure selfishness: The Day the Earth Stood. The robot in that, Gort, was a favorite. That whole film was a favorite, but that robot in particular always fascinated me. You can kind of see a bit of it in one of the Daft Punk promos. It was one of Thomas Bangalter’s favorite films as well, so we felt justified doing a little homage.

You’ve dabbled in directing short content, but have you ever wanted to make your own feature?

To be honest, I don’t know if I have the attention span and the focus to do a feature. I really enjoy doing music videos and short films. If I had nothing else that I needed to focus on, I would love to take on a genre feature. To do something along the lines of the original The Thing - something that offers you opportunity to really stretch your imagination - would be exciting enough to me. If I could drop everything else to do it, I would be happy to.

Original Article


WICKED HORROR: FX Maestro Tony Gardner Talks Cult of Chucky

Exclusive Interview: FX Maestro Tony Gardner Talks Cult of Chucky!

Tony Gardner is one of the premiere FX artists in horror. His career stretches from operating the cat Binx in the seasonal favorite Hocus Pocus, to building the equally iconic half-corpse in Return of the Living Dead, to Lost Boys, to Aliens and more. Since Seed of Chucky, he’s been at the center of the Child’s Play franchise, creating the dolls for that film as well as Curse of Chucky and now Cult of Chucky. Gardner has even stepped in as a producer for the new sequel.

We talked with Gardner recently about the process of creating the great—and varied—new looks for Chucky in the film, as well as what fans can expect and so much more.

Cult of Chucky is now available. Be warned. The interview will go into some mild spoilers.

Wicked Horror: One of my favorite things about this franchise is that each movie feels completely different from the one before it. Cult definitely continues this trend. When did Don Mancini first approach you with the idea and what was your initial reaction?

Tony Gardner: He actually had a couple of idea right while we were finishing Curse. And this was one of them. They were all equally cool, they were all standalone films that were almost completely different genre homages, in a way. They were all so exciting, but the idea of an insane asylum just opened so many doors to what’s really happening and what’s going on in people’s minds. So I was very excited and hoping he would go down that road and obviously I’m glad that he did.

WH: What was the experience like stepping into a producer role for this one?

Gardner: You know, I kind of feel like I’ve been part of financial management on the last two films. Just making sure things happen on time & on budget, and making sure all the time on set is maximized. It’s just a larger extension of what we do with the animatronic character himself. It was just sort of an expansion of a job that already existed for me. It’s nice being there from the beginning when things are being scripted. Just planning out what’s possible and what’s not, what’s not too time consuming, what’s financially possible and if there are ways to go around some of the financial restrictions.

Offering up alternate options, whether it be digital or otherwise, to pull of a sequence that we had in mind, like the finale with the three characters. It’s really just being part of the organization of everything from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WH: This definitely feels like one of the most FX-heavy Chucky movies to date.

Gardner: A fair bit. I think that’s why I got pulled in right off the bat, because we had to figure out how to make it work with a limited number of shoot days. This was a very complicated story that Don wanted to tell with a lot of different characters and what could essentially have been its own 2nd unit. How do you integrate that into 1st unit as much as possible so that it’s cohesive? I think any time someone comes in with that much of a large-scope idea and that much drive and enthusiasm, you have to support that.

WH: And Chucky himself in this one, well…

Gardner: Himselves?

WH: Yeah, I was gonna say. He looks very similar to the first few movies in terms of that overall look, going back to the early days of the franchise. How hard did you work on that?

Gardner: That was sort of my obsession, to be honest with you. You go back to the beginning and have the chance to start over, literally. The focus was really Child’s Play 2 more than the first one, because of some of the design and aesthetic changes. He’s gone through such a transformation starting with Bride in particular. When we got into Curse, I was really taking Don’s concept of “Chucky has a Good Guy face stretched over his own.” I took that literally and I think trying to do that weird plastic surgery look didn’t really thrill people. Lesson learned on my end, obviously. So I really, really wanted to make sure that the Good Guy doll was back to its original proportions of the first few films. Size of the hands, everything.

 

There were some concessions made due to the aesthetics of the set, with everything being so white and washed out. Don really wanted the hair to pop more on camera in a more contrasted way. So it’s a little more orange as opposed to orange-brown than it was in the first film. There was no luxury of him going from a Good Guy doll to a more human doll, where he’s becoming more of a human being and his eyebrows are getting hairy. This one had to go back and forth from a Good Guy doll to a fully animated one, but one who is capable of conveying extremely evil expressions. There’s a bit of a bag under the eye to give him a look that’s a little more like Brad Dourif. It gives a little more of that evil character and at the same time helps us mechanically as well.

WH: It really does look great in the film.

Gardner: Oh, thank you.

WH: In general, with this being such a rapidly changing industry, how would you say the effects have evolved over time in this franchise?

Gardner: I think the best advancement has been everyone willing to be open to digital enhancement. We can do rod puppeting on certain scenes and eliminate a rod or a puppeteer out of the frame, as opposed to limiting how he’s framed, so that you can cut somebody out of the shot. We’re able to do that now and it really opens up the door for more articulation and faster shooting time. It takes so much less time to set up a shot. People’s willingness to embrace that technology is a help for us and it has really made a difference in the last two films.

We used it very sparingly in Curse of Chucky, just things like when his head pops off and his body stands up. A couple of things where you’re seeing him full-frame in the shot. We were on a practical floor, so we couldn’t be underneath it or do anything other than rods or marrionetting. Doing that to a minor degree on that film really opened up everybody’s eyes to how it could be used on this one. And when we get to the scene at the end where we have three characters going and we have green suits or green rods, it’s really been a huge asset for us.

WH: You kind of touched on this a little bit in terms of being a producer, but with there being so much FX work in Cult of Chucky, was there ever anything you didn’t think that you’d be able to pull off?

Gardner: I think what made it nice for me on Cult is that we had Adrien Morot on makeup effects and then we had Doug Morrow doing the applications in the FX shop, so we had people that we knew were solid and easy to work with handling most of the blood and guts. Sometimes there’s a real overlap. We knew we’d have our hands full with all the multiple versions of him, shooting out of continuity, and then that whole finale sequence in the office. We had a lot on our plate with just the dolls alone, so having those people on the makeup effects was a huge peace of mind for me.

WH: Going back a little bit, how familiar were you with the franchise before you came on board with Seed?  

Gardner: Oh, I was super familiar with it. When the first one had come out, I remember thinking “A killer doll, I don’t know…” But I remembered the Karen Black movie called Trilogy of Terror, with the little doll with the knife, and that was a really great idea. I was excited to see how suspenseful it was and how much of a story there was in the first one. I’ve watched all of them since. And then when David Kirshner was going to Universal to pitch Bride of Chucky, we had just worked with him on Hocus Pocus. He asked if we could do a display that he could take in to pitch them the idea for the movie. He brought in all these sketches he had done of Tiffany and asked us to build a Chucky doll holding Tiffany, sort of standing on a threshold for a wedding, a display to put in the room while he pitched the film to the producers.

So that was my first experience with who these characters were and what they were about. I really enjoyed that short experience, so when Seed came about and they asked me if I would be interested in manufacturing the dolls—even though they came to me three months before it had to ship—I was excited. I don’t know what I was thinking, but yeah. I really loved the franchise and admired what David and Don and Kevin Yagher had been able to achieve. I think going in blind was really good too, because I didn’t have any idea how complicated it would be to have three characters talking, having conversations and arguments and throwing things at each other.

WH: Yeah, I mean, that’s the one movie in the franchise where they’re in it more than the human characters.

Gardner: Yeah, and having conversations! Having to figure out the eye lines of a puppet, and we did that all through the floor. All of it. All the controllers, the sets were all six feet off the ground, and we were all underneath it looking at monitors. It was a very new experience and very stressful, but very enjoyable.

WH: In general, you’ve had an insane, insane career. From Aliens to Return of the Living Dead and Lost Boys and so many more. Do you think you’d even be able to single out an effect you would say you’re most proud of?

Gardner: Boy. A lot of times, in those films from the eighties and nineties, they were the first times for me doing those things. Darkman was the first time I did an overlying prosthetic appliance makeup. It was exciting because it was new and it was challenging. I think that holds true for all of them in general, especially in regards to the ones I like the most. I think I would probably go back to Return of the Living Dead and the half-corpse. That’s something that I’m super proud of. I’d been hired fresh out of college to work on Michael Jackson’s Thriller for Rick Baker.

 

Through happenstance, within a few months of that, I was asked to build this animatronic half-body. And I’d never done anything animatronic before in my life, ever. I had Bill Sturgeon over at Rick’s, who was an amazing mechanical designer, help with the hands. I did the head myself and I took it on set and was able to operate and puppeteer it on set. It’s a really exciting experience to be able to follow something all the way through and have it succeed as well as it did.

WH: That effect is still incredible. It still looks so lively. And Cult of Chucky is incredible work too. You really knocked it out of the park with this one.

Gardner: Thank you, I stressed about it. I really wanted to be true to the whole canon and the fans. I really reached out to the fan base for feedback and tried to incorporate them in what we were doing. We had Garrett Zima as our historian for what we were doing. He had an original doll from the second or third installment, access to great reference material for us. He was also helpful for feedback.

We put it out to different Facebook pages and groups and people would be in contact with us a lot, asking questions or whatever. So we started asking them questions about things and getting that feedback and a sense of right and wrong within this world. And I hope we did it justice for the fan base because that’s what this one is really all about.

Original Article


COPPEL: Behind the Scenes with Grandfather Memo

Coppel: Behind the Scenes with Grandfather Memo

 

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Good Guys Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky

Good Guys Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky

 

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DAFT PUNK: "Behind the Helmets" Documentary

Daft Punk: "Behind the Helmets" Documentary

Tony Gardner revisits the evolution of the Daft Punk helmets and costumes in this illuminating behind the scenes interview.  This mini-documentary reveals the entire process; from the first conceptual sketches to the making of the actual helmets and the design challenges involved.

 

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