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Don Mancini Talks Chucky Season 2 And Reuniting With Jennifer Tilly - Exclusive Interview

"Chucky" fans were delighted when the series was renewed for a second season, which is airing now on SYFY and USA Network every Wednesday. Following seven movies and an unrelated reboot film, the TV series reinstates the original timeline and brings everyone's favorite characters back together. With Jennifer Tilly returning as Tiffany and the original voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif, back for the ride, Season 2 promises to be wilder than ever.

The second season of "Chucky" follows Jake, Devon, and Lexy as they're sent off to a very strict Catholic school. However, the new location can't keep them safe from the killer doll and his many different incarnations. Meanwhile, Chucky's ex, Tiffany, is holed up in Jennifer Tilly's Hollywood mansion, where she is holding Nica captive. With the long-awaited return of Glen and Glenda, "Chucky" Season 2 is the culmination of much hard work on the part of series creator Don Mancini.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Don Mancini opened up about Season 2 of "Chucky," telling gay stories on screen, and what it was like working on the horror series "Channel Zero."

Reviving Glen and Glenda

What's it been like bringing "Chucky" back for a second season?

It's been great. We were all so happy and grateful that Season 1 landed as well as it did. We were excited to be able to come back and do another round of eight hours of story and not have to wait several years to do it ... At the end of Season 1, we all felt almost like tennis players who were in shape because we'd been working at it for so long and it was like, "Oh, we're in a groove now." It was great to be able to come back so quickly and get into it and feel like we were at the top of our game. That was especially helpful for the puppeteers. 

Everyone's excited for Glen and Glenda to come back. Is there anything you can tell us about that?

The characters have always been very important to me, and I've wanted to bring them back for quite a while. When we were doing the movies, "Curse of Chucky" and "Cult of Chucky," the studio — not in a mean way, but from a business perspective — were wary of those characters. To them, it represented something that the public didn't want, because "Seed of Chucky" didn't do well when it opened.

Even in those movies, I had wanted to allude to them in dialogue, and [the studio] didn't want to do that, so that was a bit frustrating for me. But now that we're in television in a whole new medium and working with a whole group of people at UCP and SYFY and USA, they were very enthusiastic about bringing those characters back into the franchise. They were very aware of how those characters' popularity has grown over the years since the movie opened and how much those characters have been embraced by the queer community and the trans community. The world has evolved to the point that it even trickled down to networks and studios, who thought, "This will be a good thing to do." They were incredibly supportive about it, and I was so excited about finally being able to bring them back to the franchise.

On top of that, it's exciting to be able to work with Lachlan Watson, who plays both Glen and Glenda. They are an incredible actor, and people are going to be amazed at the amount of emotion and depth that Lachlan brings to those characters.

Collaborating with Jennifer Tilly

Jennifer Tilly is wonderful in the series, and I know you love working with her. What's it been like continuing Tiffany's storyline from "Bride of Chucky" until now?

It's been great. I love working with Jennifer, and I wrote "Bride of Chucky" for her. I didn't know her at the time, but I was a big fan of hers and was delighted and slightly shocked that it all worked out. She was wonderful in the role, and we became fast friends.

When I did "Seed of Chucky," I wanted to work with her even more because her character was physically killed off 30 minutes into "Bride" and she became a doll. I wanted to have both. I wanted her to play a doll and her physical self. I said, "Okay, you'll play yourself, and the movie takes place in Hollywood." At the end of "Seed of Chucky," Tiffany ends up possessing and taking over the body, life, and career of Jennifer Tilly. It's been fun to explore that over the years in the movies, and now even more that we've gotten to do that in the TV series.

In Season 1, Tiffany was very much in control, and we're basically used to seeing that character in control. For Season 2, I wanted to give Jennifer something new to play, and I thought it would be fun for fans to see a different side of the character. I wanted to put Tiffany on the defense this time and see her whole imposture as Jennifer Tilly starts to become precarious. I thought that would be really interesting. It was fun to put her in the "Sunset Boulevard," "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" situation where she's holed up in her Beverly Hills mansion with her hostage slash — in her mind — girlfriend Nica, while Chucky is now gunning for her and vowing revenge. I thought it would be fun to see Jennifer play that.

One of the things I'm driven by is giving the actors new things to play. I love working with actors over and over. I love writing for actors that I know and giving them new things to do. I have occasionally brought actors back to the franchise in different roles.

I'm a huge James Bond fan, and one of the things I've loved about that franchise and the way the Broccolis have conducted it is they've always done that. They will have, for example, Maud Adams play a character in "The Man with the Golden Gun" and then 10 years later have her come back in a completely new role as "Octopussy." They've done that with several actors and characters over the years, and I loved that they have this repertory company and they're able to keep their narrative going but change it up in this fun way. 

It was partly inspired by that, but I also get attached to people. It's like, "Oh, I like working with you. Let's keep you around." Devon Sawa is the latest example. We all loved working with him on Season 1, so it's like, "We should have him back. We'll have him come back in a completely different role." It's been great; I love doing that.

Fiona Dourif's Season 2 arc as Nica

I've always been a big fan of Nica, and disabled characters often have a hard time in horror. There's been some concern about what's going to happen to Nica. Will we ever see the strong independent character that we saw in "Curse of Chucky" again?

That was always the plan, to bring Nica to this very horrifying, precarious place so that we could have her become stronger and more fierce than ever. That was always the plan, and that's what we've attempted to do in Season 2.

Fans also love that Fiona Dourif is the real-life daughter of Brad. It's your whole metaverse thing, isn't it?

Yes. In Fiona's case, not only is she incredibly talented, but she also has such a crazy resemblance to her father facially and vocally that I felt like, "You've got to play Chucky at some point." Again, it's the same sort of thing — I love giving the actors new stuff to do.

One of my favorite moments in the first episode of Season 2 was that goodbye kiss between Jake and Devon. What's it been like telling a prominent gay storyline in your TV show?

It's been great. It's been really gratifying, and it's one of the most important things to me about the TV show, that relationship. We were all excited and thrilled that landed as well as it did. A lot of credit goes to the actors, Zack Arthur and Björgvin Arnarson. They're wonderful together. As a longtime horror fan, as a gay man, I love being able to give some representation to teenage gay boys. When I was a teenage gay boy horror fan, I would've loved to have seen gay teens having a romance, so it's been gratifying to do that. I love that scene too, the one you're referring to — it's really sweet.

Working on Channel Zero and Hannibal

I also love your work on "Channel Zero," and I'm a big fan of the first season, "Candle Cove." What was it like working on another creative, fascinating horror show?

I loved working on that show. That show was created by my friend Nick Antosca, who is a fellow executive producer on "Chucky." "Channel Zero" is his vision, and he's such a brilliant guy — such a brilliant writer. I learned a lot working on that show just as I learned a lot working for Bryan Fuller on "Hannibal."

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work on those shows. I'm still relatively new to TV. I guess I've been at it for five or six years now, so maybe [I'm] not new anymore. "Hannibal" and "Channel Zero" were my first experiences, other than having co-written a "Tales from the Crypt" episode for HBO many, many years ago. But that was a very different situation because it wasn't a writer's room situation or anything.

I love "Channel Zero" as well. I also love the whole concept of [the show's second season], "The No-End House." Nick has such a great knack for surreal horror. I'm not sure how to articulate it, but it's his very own unique thing, it's very "Antoscan." One of the things I loved about "Candle Cove" is that it involves children. That intersection of childhood and horror is really interesting. As a lifelong horror fan, I always loved kids in horror, and "Candle Cove" was a great example of that.

The Tooth Child is the most terrifying thing I've ever seen.

That came from a dream that Nick had. I was on the set — that show was shot in Winnipeg, where I actually did "Curse of Chucky" and "Cult of Chucky" as well, and with some of the same crew did "Channel Zero." I remember seeing the actress who played the Tooth Child in the suit. There's a scene where one of the characters has fallen asleep in his car. We see a wide shot of the car and this landscape, and you see the Tooth Child walking toward the car. It's very surreal and abstract and weird. It was exciting to see that happen.

Chucky's Season 2 surprises

Is there anything else you want fans to know about "Chucky" or where you see the series going in the future?

Episode 4 is a special episode that we had a lot of fun working on. We have a lot of fun guest stars, and I'm hoping that people will enjoy the "Bound" reunion. Seeing Jennifer and Meg Tilly work together on screen for the first time was a lot of fun. [There's also] watching the boys' relationship, Jake and Devon — the conflicts that they have this season as a result of being in this Catholic School, but also as a result of their differing opinions on how to deal with the Chucky issue in their lives, is quite interesting. I'm hoping that fans will enjoy tracking that.

They'll enjoy the new setting of the Catholic school and seeing the subtle variations on the Chucky persona that we've written, which Brad Dourif has played so brilliantly, and the beginning of what we call Big Chucky. He makes his first appearance in Episode 3. That was a lot of fun to do. There are some other variations on Chucky to come in the season [that] people will get a kick out of.

New episodes of "Chucky" premiere on SYFY and USA Network every Wednesday.

This interview has been edited for clarity.