Season 2 of "Chucky" premieres on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Syfy/USA Network
NEW YORK, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Brad Dourif said voicing the demonic doll Chucky remains challenging as his film and TV franchise -- as well as the horror-comedy genre itself -- evolves.
Season 2 of Chucky, the sequel series to the popular films that date to 1988, will premiere on Syfy and USA Network on Wednesday.
Once again, Dourif lends his voice to the wicked, foul-mouthed, titular toy, who is possessed by the spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray.
Jennifer Tilly plays psychotic bombshell Tiffany, Ray's girlfriend and Chucky's protector, while Zackary Arthur, Bjorgvin Amarson and Alyvia Alyn Lind play Jake, Devon and Lexy, respectively -- teens Chucky terrorizes in Ray's hometown of Hackensack, N.J.
The film's creator, Don Mancini, is an executive producer on the show.
"He really challenged me this year, I have to tell you," Dourif, 72, said in a recent virtual press conference.
"I was really scared at times that I was going to [expletive] this up big time," the actor added. "He really, really made us step up, so, that's all good. Being challenged is a good thing, especially for someone who kind of considers himself to be retired."
Dourif praised Mancini for keeping Chucky relevant in 2022.
"Most of my evolution comes from his imagination," Dourif said.
"I always felt that Don's ability to grab where horror was going, how the genre changed and adapt Chucky was unique and extremely fun. He is the reason why this thing continues to work, and why Jennifer and I still have a job."
One of the aspects of the role that most intrigues Dourif, he said, is how Ray's evil essence has been able to split into numerous similar-looking dolls, creating an army of adorable killers that do Ray's bidding and make him seemingly impossible to vanquish.
"When there are different Chuckys, I do a different voice for each one, or at least a different low, medium and high kind of thing," Dourif said.
"There's a bit of a personality that comes from reading the script. And I go from beginning to end, in one character, and then go back to the beginning and do the second character. Go back and do the third character," he added. "That's the way I have done it before this season, and I am not talking about anything having to do with this season. Because I will be killed."
Tilly said she thinks new incarnations of Chucky keep the franchise fresh and new for fans.
"He is recognizable, but you mix it up a little bit and it is fun for them to see," the actress said.
"Brad gives them all different personalities, but they are all still Chucky because Brad does the voices so brilliantly. They are different aspects of Chucky's character, the different Chuckys. I don't think I am giving anything away, because there were a lot of Chuckys last season, too."
Mancini described Dourif's performances as "indelible" and credits the actor -- as well as the puppeteers who make the dolls seem eerily real -- for the franchise's enduring appeal.
"In tandem, they bring Chucky to life to such a degree that we, on set, can all take it for granted," Mancini said.
The television series works, he noted, because the films established the precedent of serialized, ongoing, narrative storytelling over the course of decades.
"So, to be able to do that now at an accelerated pace, and to go through eight hours of story per season, that's really exciting," Mancini said.
"It allows us to get more into character's history, and relationships, and go down different avenues and explore characters that fans have been wanting to know more about."
This season, viewers will get to catch up with Glen/Glenda, Chucky and Tiffany's only child, who was introduced in 1998's Bride of Chucky and played a pivotal role in 2004's Seed of Chucky.
"Fans have been wanting to know about that since 2004," Mancini teased.
Dourif and Tilly recalled the hilarious day they recorded their lines for Chucky and Tiffany, in doll form -- a scene in which the newlyweds consummated their marriage and conceived Glen/Glenda.
"Jennifer and I did all that -- the voice for all that, voice only for all of that -- using microphones with glass between us," Dourif said.
Tilly gleefully gave a more detailed account of the experience.
"It is really fun because we were the first people to do doll sex. I know South Park did doll sex, [but it was] after we did our doll sex," she said, recounting how she and Dourif improvised a filthy joke in the film about not needing a condom because the characters were dolls.
"So, they had unprotected sex, which led to an unplanned pregnancy, which is a lesson for the kiddies," Tilly quipped. "Doll sex is different than real sex, but it is a lot of fun, especially when it is with Brad."
Although the TV show is not appropriate for small children or the faint of heart, Mancini thinks it explores real-life themes to which young adults can relate.
"Aesthetically, we love to do over the top stylistic, grandiose, visual stuff. And I think that's the way teenagers' emotions work. Teenagers' emotions are over the top and big," he said.
Dourif said he told the younger members of the Chucky cast that he was disappointed he never gets to share scenes with them since their roles are live-action and his dialogue is recorded separately and added to the episodes later.
"I am so sad that I never got a chance to work with you guys," he said. "I think your work is beautiful, and you guys have done a really, really nice job, and I look forward to seeing it in [additional dialog replacement] screenings."
Season 2 picks up a year after the events of the first season and finds the three main human characters shipped off to a Catholic boarding school because their families and community believe the kids -- not Chucky -- are responsible for the recent mayhem plaguing their town. Of course, it's not long before Chucky pops up to haunt their new educational institution.
"Everything happened so fast, and now finally everything is catching up to their emotions," Lind said.
"They have all been separated," she added of the friends and Chucky survivors. "They cannot talk about the trauma they have endured with anybody other than each other, and they have kind of lost contact at this point. So, they are just having to push it all down and just pretend like everything is OK when it is definitely not."
Season 2 finds Lexy turning to drugs to cope, while Devon and Jake struggle to keep their fledgling, long-distance romance alive.
"Devon wants to reconnect with Jake and try to form this relationship more, but then it doesn't end up working out," Amarson said.
"They start losing contact, and there's a lot of drama," he said. "They are trying really hard, especially Devon, to connect, but he can't seem to get to Jake and that becomes a big thing."
Arthur said Jake blames himself for their ordeals because he was the one who picked up the toddler-sized doll at a yard sale with the intention of incorporating him into an art project and having no idea what a malevolent force he was unleashing.
"Jake is dealing with all of the guilt that has been placed upon him because he feels really responsible for all the damage that has been caused and the people who have been affected," Arthur said.
"That relationship between him and Devon -- you will get to see how that develops in this new environment, and how Chucky reacts in that new environment."