“Chucky” Season 2 Post-Mortem with Don Mancini: “There Were Death Threats” [Interview]

Horror

Don Mancini has maintained his streak of character and narrative surprises in “Chucky” Season Two, especially when it comes to Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly).

While protagonists Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson), and Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) contended with their ongoing fight to remove Chucky from their lives, Tiffany’s impressive journey this season proved just as complex.

The murderess dealt with the ramifications of her one-sided relationship with Nica (Fiona Dourif), unexpected party guests, motherhood, death, and the loss of her comfortable lifestyle when Jennifer Tilly gets framed for Tiffany’s murders. 

Tiffany heads into the finale tonight searching for a Belle doll to escape her precarious situation. Ahead of the Season 2 finale, titled “Chucky Actually,” Bloody Disgusting exclusively spoke with Jennifer Tilly about her character’s tremendous arc this season. The actress discussed what it was like to kill her sister on screen, the stylistic flourishes she brought to her character, and her deep appreciation for all involved with the series, especially Mancini.

Tilly revealed that not only does Mancini continue to surprise her with the directions he takes her character, but that we owe him a great debt of gratitude for pulling her out of semi-retirement.

The actress explains, “It’s been really astonishing. I’ve done… how many movies did I do? I think I did four Chucky movies, and for the last two Chucky movies, I just had cameos. I always felt like, well, realistically, there’s going to be a period where Tiffany gets squeezed out to make way for new blood, so when we were doing the television series, I was very excited. I thought it would be like Mr. Spock in the Star Trek movies, where he shows up for three minutes in the movie, and everyone’s excited because he’s Mr. Spock. I felt like I would be a cameo in the show. When the scripts started coming in, I was just so astonished by the things that he was having happen with Tiffany, how rich and varied her character was, and what he was giving me to do.

I was blown away and grateful to him because I was semi-retired when he called me. There comes the point in an actress’ life where the phone isn’t ringing much anymore, and I became pretty obsessed with poker, and I was just fine with that. I was like, well, I did my acting career, and I’ve moved on to other things. But since I started working on the ‘Chucky’ television series, it has been a family.

“I love the character of Tiffany. I love the things that [Don Mancini] gives me to do.”

CHUCKY — “The “Sinners Are Much More Fun” Episode 1202 — Pictured in this screengrab: Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany — (Photo by: SYFY)

Tilly continues, “Sometimes, you get put in a box when you’re an older actress. You’re the grandma or, I don’t know, the lady who works behind the counter at the knitting store. I don’t know what parts there are for all the women because I never get offered them. Don and I are of similar age. I’m one of his best friends, so we hang out all the time. He just sees me as Jennifer. In his mind, I haven’t changed in the 25 years since he’s known me. It’s like that with all my friends. We don’t see that we’re getting older; he writes stuff for Tiffany, which is very similar to what he wrote in Seed of Chucky or Bride of Chucky. That she’s just this really campy character that’s a killer but has a very good fashion sense. I liked that he gave her some really dramatic scenes this season and last, and you can dig your teeth into her.

One of the standout episodes for Tilly’s character this season has been “Death on Denial,” a self-contained episode that brought in many of Tilly’s real-life friends.

“When Don said I want to do ‘Death on Denial,’ now my absolute favorite episode, he said, ‘do you think Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano would want to be in it?’ It was all his idea. He came up with the idea to have Sutton Stracke, one of my best friends in real life, on the show, and Sutton was delightful. He also came up with the idea to have my sister, Meg Tilly, on the show. I’ve never worked with her since high school, so that was a real gift to me that I’m in this episode, which is absolutely delightful. I called it a standalone episode,” Tilly tells us.

CHUCKY — “Death on Denial” Episode 204 — Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Lachlan Watson as Glenda, Meg Tilly as Herself, Lachlan Watson as Glen — (Photo by: SYFY)

Tilly recommends “Death on Denial” even for fans unfamiliar with the series.

“You could take that episode and not know anything about Chucky and enjoy it like an Agatha Christie movie like Mouse Trap or Knives Out or whatever,” she explains. “The whole structure of it is just a valentine to those whodunnits. Movies from the seventies – Don loves old movies even where you have the cast of millions, the cast of B-list movie stars – and the doll doesn’t even come into play until the very, very end as a wrap-around. There’s so much inside humor, and he was open to everybody improvising, and I think we all had genuine relationships. That gave it an extra layer of poignancy, especially with my sister. Even though she was not Tiffany’s sister, she was Jennifer Tilly’s sister.”

Speaking of her sister, “Chucky” marks the first time Jennifer has appeared on screen with Meg Tilly. When asked what it was like to not only share scenes with her sister but then kill her on screen, Tilly explained, Meg was really upset. She said, ‘oh, it’s going to be so awful when you kill me. I don’t know, that’s going to be so awful,’ and I said, ‘Meg, it’s not me killing you; it’s Tiffany killing you. Even if it’s Jennifer Tilly killing you, it’s Jennifer Tilly, the character. It wouldn’t actually be me.’ So she’s like, ‘Oh, I never really thought of it that way.’ But it was pretty easy because they had the shadows on the walls, flailing around during the killing, which was two stunt doubles, and it went by pretty fast. It wasn’t the big traumatic thing that we thought it would be, and it’s mostly because we’re both professionals. Meg was a bit worried about it, and I was a little worried about it too, but it turned out it was a nothing ball.

“When you see it on screen, it’s sad and tragic and everything. When Meg sees the Jennifer Tilly doll, that is a very poignant moment, but it turns out not to be terrifying. I was also worried about Meg because Meg does not like horror movies. She hasn’t even seen any of the Chucky movies. When we watch movies at home, if Meg thinks there’s going to be any blood or violence, she doesn’t want to watch it, so I was surprised she wanted to do it. But she wanted to work with me. She turned down another television series she got offered at the same time because she really wanted to work on ‘Chucky,’ and she loves the Chucky fans. She’s a horror icon herself because she did Psycho 2One Dark Night, and Body Snatchers, so I think she’s embracing her new role as a scream queen.”

CHUCKY — “Doll on Doll” Episode 205 — Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Lachlan Watson as Glen, Meg Tilly as Herself, Tiffany Valentine — (Photo by: SYFY)

Tilly is quick to credit every member of the cast and crew for bringing this infectious series to life, revealing fascinating details that provide insight into her character.

“I want to give a tip of the hat to Catherine Ashton, our costumer, who did an amazing job with all the costumes,” Tilly emphasizes. “When you look at Glen and Glenda, it’s not like a television version of how teenagers dress. It’s very different from how mainstream kids dress, like Lexy, Jake, and Devon. I mean they’re kids, but they’re middle-class kids. They grew up in a regular environment. With Glen and Glenda, you get the rebel like it was the eighties, King’s Road vibe from them. Lachlan [Watson] also has amazing style, but Catherine listens to everybody, gets their energy, and comes up with things that are perfect for them. I love the stuff she’s coming up with for Tiffany, but also, I brought a lot of my stuff from home, so she understands where I’m trying to go with the character.

Also, with the character this season, you see things reflected in the way that I dress. When Glen and Glenda show up, she wants to be the perfect mom, so she has the cherry dress with the cherry apron and flawless makeup. She wants to look like the perfect mom, like in ‘Leave it to Beaver.’ Then, as she becomes more and more unhinged, you probably don’t notice, but I started wearing under eyelashes, so I look like a droog in [A Clockwork Orange].

Tilly then details how she collaborated on Tiffany’s looks and infused Meg Tilly’s on-screen death with Tiffany’s personality.

“I started doing dark eye shadow under my eyes and suit of armor. The makeup person helped me with that. As she becomes more and more, I’m not going to say deranged, but a little more emotionally charged, she starts to get a little crazier with her look, and that’s in makeup and her costumes,” Tilly notes. “I changed into that green cape and that leather catsuit to kill Meg, and they’re like, ‘well, there’s no time for a change.’ I go, ‘I have to,’ because I knew they wanted to do the shadows on the wall. And I wanted her to look like a crazy crow with all these things flying away. When she leaves the house, I wanted it to be like things blowing in the wind, like a Hong Kong film where they have a ghost. There are always shreds of things like flying in the wind.

“I added a line where I go down to talk because they were like, ‘there’s no time, there’s no time.’ No time? Of course, there’s time. So, when I go down to talk to the doll and come back, Meg and Glen are still waiting for me. Meg goes, ‘What took you so long? You changed your outfit.” I do a twirl, and I go, ‘honey, in this house, we all get dressed for dinner.’ It’s a crazy thing like she thinks she’s living a gracious life, but I feel like there’s always time for a costume change.”

CHUCKY — “Goin’ to the Chapel” Episode 207 — Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Lachlan Watson as Glen, Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany — (Photo by: SYFY)

The actress remains tight-lipped on what we can expect from Tiffany in tonight’s finale, but she can’t wait to see where the character goes from here. 

Tilly teases, “I’m super interested to see where Don is going to take Tiffany, but the one thing I know for sure is it’s not going to be in an expected direction. I have just been astonished as everybody else. With each new script that comes out, I’m like, ‘oh my God, Don, you and your writing team, you guys are geniuses.’ I wanted to say to Don last season and this season, too; I might have said it, but thank you, Don, for writing me such a fabulous part. Tiffany is sexy. She’s ferocious; she’s maternal and loving. She has all these colors. I mean, it’s a part that people would kill to get, and I love how you fleshed her out last season and this season and how we worked it into the central story, which is about the kids.”

“The OGs, all the older actors, the legacy actors, how seamlessly they blend with the new actors and the new generation of Chucky characters; I feel like he did a great job,” Tilly continues. “That the show is, it’s sensitive. It’s sensitive, and people cry a lot during these episodes. They cry about the children and their pain and Tiffany’s pain. People feel their humanity, which is very unusual for a horror movie. Usually, in a horror movie, you’re just waiting for the next attractive teenager to get killed, but people are affected by these characters. At the same time, there’s such over-the-top, campy humor where you have the biggest belly laughs watching it.”

Watch the finale of “Chucky” tonight at 9/8c on SYFY and USA Network.

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