An interview with the stars of ‘Curse of Chucky’

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Don Mancini’s Curse of Chucky had its world premiere at the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival back in early August. As part of the event, the writer-director and stars of the film sat down for interviews about the project. What follows is the interview conducted with actors Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, and Chantal Quesnelle. The interview was put on the back burner for a couple of months until its Blu-ray and DVD release today, October 8, due to a major spoiler revealed during the conversation. Readers have been warned!

Edgar Chaput: This is obviously a very iconic franchise. For each of you, what were your initial feelings and impressions when the possibility came about that you might be in the new Chucky movie with the original creator. no less?

Chantal Quesnelle: I screamed when I got the call from my agent. I went “Oh my God!” I was over the moon.

Danielle Bisutti: My uncle produced the first one. As a little girl, there was a poster in their house downstairs where we would go to watch television. And whenever the lights were down and I walked past the poster, I was terrified. It was this constant reminder of Chucky in my world, so to be able to be a part of this franchise after all these years is a real honour.

Fiona Dourif: I’ve never been more excited for anything that’s happened to me. It was like a continuation of my family’s legacy, being so attached to it. I grew up marketing myself to boys in high school as the daughter of Chucky and to be attached to it as an adult was really cool.

EC: (to CQ and DB) How familiar we’re you two with the franchise?

CQ: I remembered Child’s Play as a teenager because I loved horror movies. They were my favourite kind of movies, like the Halloween ones. I don’t remember if I saw Child’s Play in theaters or if I rented it or back then on VHS.

EC: Oh, I remember those.

CQ: Yup. So I was very familiar with the franchise. Loving horror movies and I was just over the moon to be able to be a part of the horror genre with this particular movie. It just got better and better when I read the script and made me want to do it even more. Even if it weren’t part of the Chucky franchise I knew I wanted to do the movie because I loved the script so much.

DB: The script was definitely phenomenal. Having my uncle produce the first one and my dad being a set dresser on the third, I actually got to go on set, get creeped out at the carnival scene, see the doll, and meet Don Mancini and tell him I wanted to be an actress one day! I saw all of them in the theatre except for Seed, so when I heard of the prospect of being a part of the project I was like “F yeah!” That was my first reaction. Then I read the script and, as these fine actresses will tell you, it was such a tight, phenomenal script. There’s family drama, there are a lot of layers, there’s a lot of humour, and there just happens to be this legendary doll. I was, like, “Sign me up!”

EC: Actually, I didn’t even know you had family ties to the franchise.

DB: Yeah. Just one degree of separation, not quite like Fiona’s experience, but always sort of lurking in the background was this Chucky doll!

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EC: Let’s get down to the shooting process. What do you consider to the most challenging aspect of not just making a horror movie, but a horror movie where certain scenes are going to get physical with, you know, a doll?

FD: Well, Chucky is this walking, talking, moving thing. It’s not like acting with green screen, you have something to react to, which is great. I think the most challenging thing was keeping a level of hysteria, especially when shooting the climax 25 takes in because he doesn’t quite look right.

EC: (chuckles) The actresses will be fine but the doll has to look right!

FD: Don would be yelling to me “More trepidation! More trepidation!” I’d be (sighing) “Right, I’m doing it!” But it was ultimately just really fun, a really fun experience.

DB: My trick is that I make a playlist of music for all my characters, especially when they’re like in a compromising position, whether they’re captive or crying or whatever. With all of the moving parts and variables happening on the technical aspect on a film or TV set, it’s my way of protecting my little world. Take after take, like Fiona said, when the butcher knife goes into my eye, it was filmed in a discombobulated way, literally on two or three different days and in different parts. For me to have that throughline, I had to protect that sense of fear and sorrow.

EC: As I recall, we don’t see you being killed. We there any days on the shoot where you did have interactions with Chucky?

CQ: Well, there’s the scene I did with Brad Dourif with all the sunflowers and he has me captive and I’m tied to the bed.

EC: That’s sort of Chucky.

CQ: Yeah. When you’re doing scenes where you have to cry a lot or scream a lot and be very emotional all day, it can be very exhausting. For me, I always draw the energy of the other actor. If I find that my tank is empty, I draw the energy from the other person. If I feel like I can’t do it, I’m, like, “Give me your energy.” When you’re working with someone like Brad Dourif, it was so easy because his energy was so menacing that I just reacted to him. He had the wig on and it was looking very menacing. Brad, he’s such a gentleman, but when he’s on set as Charles Lee Ray, it was very easy of me.

EC: I stayed for the Q&A yesterday after the film and what came up a lot was, “We love Brad Dourif but he’s kind of creepy, but we love him!” I find these stories fascinating.

DB: Not in any intimidating, purposeful way. He’s alluring, there’s a mystery happening. He commands that, there’s a surplus of dynamism.

CQ: And it’s not just on screen. Some actors are so enigmatic you can’t take your eyes away from them. He’s like that in real life.

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EC: Not to get too off topic, but he has a small role in The Lord of the Rings films and when I saw him, I was, like, “Wow, that’s Brad Dourif and he looks…scary but kind of cool.” The same thing keeps coming up all the time.

In a horror film, where there’s going to be some tension-filled moments and some gore, you just want cardboard cutout characters to be lambs to the slaughter. What do you consider more challenging: preparing and acting the scenes of character development or the scenes where things are going to nasty?

DB: The more challenging thing is, like Fiona said, to keep yourself in that state of terror,  hysteria, emotionality, and exhaustion we talked about. To be able to pull that off is a great feat. That’s a payoff. But the real joy I had were some of the beautiful moments I got to share with Fiona where, this wonderful actress. I really felt like we were there for each other because these sisters have such a deep, rich history, it’s complex like any sister-sister or brother-sister relationship. There were moments when I could draw certain emotions and emotional energy from her (Fiona Dourif) and she could pull from me. I felt like there was a camaraderie that was happening and for me, it was very joyful.

EC: Chucky is quite iconic, you have the Michael Myers, the Jasons, the Freddy Krugers, and whatnot. Why is Chucky so enduring and scary after 25 years?

FD: I think Chucky taps into some deep-seated fear of innocence gone wrong, of a child being born evil. He taps into the fear something being inherently wrong with kids.

EC: Something that should be right but is wrong.

FD: Yeah, this malicious innocence, kind of like Damien as well. The uncanny valley thing is always pretty creepy. Chucky endures. I think they’re really well written. Don is a really good writer, he puts a lot of humour into its long with fear. He wrote Child’s Play back in college.

DB: Along with that, for me, my stuffed animals and dolls were there to protect me. They’re my friends and companions in my imagination. For one to turn against you, that’s a betrayal beyond all belief. As a child, the imagination is so vivid and alive.

EC: Fantastic. Thank you very much.

Sound on Sight would like to thank actors Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti and Chantal Quesnelle for the interview as well as Jackie Cavanagh from Universal Studios for the opportunity.

-Edgar Chaput

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