For Chucky purists, the 2019 “Child’s Play” reboot doesn’t exist.
“Remember when they came out with New Coke, and everybody liked Coke Classic better?” actress Jennifer Tilly says. “This is a similar thing. People love the original Chucky with the voice of Brad Dourif.”
To please the haunted doll’s devotees, Syfy has created “Chucky,” a limited series that reunites Tilly’s Tiffany with Dourif’s Chucky. The 10-part offering — which examines the character’s origins — was in the works “long before the remake,” she says. “It did throw a crimp in things because we were kind of like, ‘Where do we belong in the Chucky universe?’”
The answer: wherever it wants to be.
Produced by Don Mancini, the writer of all the films except the reboot, “Chucky” gives the faithful some answers they’ve been seeking — and a teen romance.
For Zackary Arthur, the teen who plays Jake Wheeler in the series, it’s an opportunity to be one of the “cool” kids.
“When I was growing up, my parents didn’t want me watching gory stuff,” he says. “The kids who watched the Chucky movies were the cool kids. And I was like, ‘Man, I wish I was like that.’”
Devon Sawa, who plays twins in the new series, grew up with the movies. “When (‘Chucky’) came across my desk to audition for, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “Chucky’s a legend. Brad is a legend. Chucky belongs on the Mount Rushmore of horror with (Freddy) Krueger and Jason (Voorhees).”
Tilly, who has been in four “Chucky” films and the series, says dying isn’t a problem for characters in the franchise. Tiffany, the character she plays, “dies in every single movie, and she just keeps coming back. Chucky does, too.”
Adds Mancini: “We also have a habit of bringing actors back in different roles from movie to movie. So, even if someone dies, they can come back in another role.”
In “Curse of Chucky,” fans got to see an adult version of Andy Barclay, the first person to receive a possessed Chucky doll as a gift. When they were looking for someone to play the role, producers cast Alex Vincent, the original Andy, in the role.
“Fans went crazy when they saw Alex show up on screen,” Tilly says. “That’s why I think Chucky’s had a loyal fan base for 30 years. People see them as real characters … even the Chucky doll.”
When Dourif was hired to provide Chucky’s voice, he toyed with several versions.
“Chucky was from Chicago, so I had a Chicago rasp,” he says. “Now, he’s, oddly, kind of moving more toward New Jersey.”
To get the right sounds, he listens to “Cult of Chucky” and mimics the voice. “And then Don schools me.”
In the new series, Dourif’s daughter, Fiona Dourif, returns as Nica Pierce, a character she introduced in “Curse of Chucky.”
“When she was very young, she came to the studio while I was (recording), and it was during the time when I was being burned to death,” Dourif says. “I was screaming in agony. She heard this and went white as a sheet and ran out of the studio. We had to stop, and I had to go find her and tell her that I was OK and that it would be fine. So she had her first kind of traumatic experience around me doing Chucky pretty young.”
Now, she’s part of the legend.
A horror icon who has lasted decades? “You never think that,” Dourif says. “You take it really just one movie at a time. I know there were some really good ideas that never got shot.”
When he visited his daughter in school, classmates wanted him to do the voice. “They wanted me to do the laugh,” he says. So even before she became a member of the Chucky family, the doll with the killer instinct “was definitely a part of her life.”
What “Chucky” • When 9 p.m. Tuesdays • Where Syfy • More info syfy.com/chucky