HNS recently attended the press conference to the highly anticipated horror reboot ‘Child’s Play.’ In attendance at the press conference was: Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, and Director Lars Klevberg. We’ve transcribed the press conference in it’s entirety below so you don’t miss a bit of it! Child’s Play hits theaters tomorrow, June 21st nationwide!
Photos from the Press Conference
Full Press Conference
Mark, what kind of decisions went into deciding on the particular voice for Chucky, to get the right tone and to distinguish him from what Brad did in the original and from your other roles?
Mark Hamill: Well I got a letter from Lars. And he already laid out his vision for the film before I read it. And then they sent me the script and I thought the crucial element that was different from the original – which I loved – and I’m a huge fan of Brad’s interpretation but in this one, Chucky has a different origin. It’s not the soul of a serial killer, someone deliberately goes and alters his operating system and takes off the safety measures. So he was really like an innocent child really, just learning from what goes on around him. I thought that was crucial. Also the age of the boy, instead of him being like 5 or 6, Gabriel plays a young teenager, and that was a fundamental difference from the original. And he does an amazing job, I have to say. When I read it, I said if they don’t find the right actor to play Andy the whole thing falls apart because you see it through his eyes. And wait til you see this guy. He is spectacular; he’s so authentic, so genuine and sympathetic. It’s really unfortunate you got such a messed up toy.
My question is for Lars and Mark. Lars, what sort of direction did you give Barry for the score, and for Mark how long did it take you to learn the song?
Lars Klevberg: Yeah the song. So I just wanted him to… earlier I suggested him to deliver an original Oscar song. I think it was a great idea actually. For the score on this, we got Bear McCreary on board and I talked to him. Just talked general ideas and how we like the sound scope to kind of be, and he left a couple days after I talked to him and I just checked on him, like ok how’s it going and [he said] I’m shopping instruments, all these crazy small instruments. He showed me some pictures, and I was like I’ve never seen those before. And then he came back and he presented to me, and we talked more and he kind of left for a couple days more and then he came back with almost like the score and theme of the movie, and I was just blown away. It was such an iconic voice from Bear. And he used all this strange, strange small instruments and we talked about doing it in a small scale with a personal touch and he came back with this and I’m blown away how he achieved it to be honest.
Mark Hamill: Well earlier on, we had a placeholder. I was singing it to the tune of ‘You are my Sunshine.’ And so I sort of got used to that. And then Bear McCreary sent me the disc with his song on it and first of all I was like Oh my God, this is like Rosemary’s Baby lullaby good, where it works authentically but it sort of creeps you out in a way. And I do a lot of voiceover, so I was going into the Valley from Malibu and I listened to it 18 times on the way over and I think 22 times on the way home because there was traffic. It bore into my head like an earwig. I’ll never be able to get it out of my head as long as I live. I thought Bear did just a great job.
My question is for Mark Hamill. Did you get to see the film before you were brought on board to do the voiceover? Because I know it was screened a couple times.
Mark Hamill: No, I just read the script and Lars’s letter. And like I said, I got excited because I thought it justified… I guess there’s a difference between a remake and a reboot, but like I say the fundamental differences were the character of Chucky and the character of Andy. So I was very excited to do it.
My question is for Aubrey. You play a mom of a teen, I think this may be a first time for you.
Aubrey Plaza: Yes, it is.
So I was wondering what that experience was like. And for each of you, what are your personal thoughts on electronics like Alexa and Siri?
Mark Hamill: My appliances all hate me.
Aubrey Plaza: Well, when I read the script I was actually really excited about the idea of playing a young mom, because in real life, my mom is a young mom. She had me when she was 20. And the age difference between the characters in the script was the exact age difference of my mom and me, and so I found a lot of kind of connections with that character, and I thought maybe it’s time to just birth a child on screen and just give it a whirl, you know. Let those maternal instincts come to the surface and just show another side of me. And what a dilemma for Karen in this film. The stakes are very high when a tiny robot’s trying to murder your child. And I thought what a challenge. What an acting challenge.
Aubrey Plaza: Oh and I hate Alexa and Siri and all technology.
My question is for Aubrey and Gabriel and Brian. What was it like working with the doll?
Gabriel Bateman: Well they had I think 9 or 11 different animatronic dolls that could make facial expressions and move, and all of them had different purposes. So it was actually really helpful to have something to play off of instead of just like tennis ball or piece of tape. So yeah, I definitely appreciated it.
Brian Tyree Henry: I never got to see the doll actually. Like my whole experience was with him [Gabriel Bateman]. Like the whole thing is that I actually never see the doll, I actually think that Andy is a part of it. But that doesn’t change the fact that the doll was always on set. So like the fact that they got to act with the doll and I had to sit alone with it without it acting, was actually the worst experience I’d ever had. So in essence, I’m actually glad that I didn’t have anything to do with the doll because you know it was so detailed. Like the jaw moves, the eyes open, there’s teeth, just I can’t. But my interaction was literally with a human being, with Gabriel, which was an amazing time, like I learned a lot from this kid. I cannot believe I’m saying this in front of you. But like, he’s absolutely remarkable so I’m really glad that all the things I actually had to do were with a human being. Like Gabriel.
This is a question is for Lars. There’s an amazing scene in this film where Chucky learns some weird scenes about violence by watching some kids laugh at, I think it’s Texas Chainsaw 2, and it’s happening in a film that has some incredibly violent scenes that are kind of played for laughs a little bit. I was wondering what you were hoping to achieve with that scene and how you think it plays amongst the argument of violence in these kind of films.
Lars Klevberg: In the script, it was read like they were watching a cheesy 80’s horror movie. So when we were going into it, we would get presented some ideas from the studio, like movies we could screen there, and Texas Chainsaw 2 was one of them. And it worked out pretty good. There’s a scene there that I [liked] a whole lot, the skinned face, and I didn’t remember that before we start cutting it in, I was like, dude this is amazing, we can actually use that in foreshadowing what Chucky is learning. And it ended up pretty good actually for the people that watched it and can backtrack a little bit. No, it’s not about, for me, in this movie, it has no commentary about violence in movies. It’s more about how a free spirit, self aware entity/ person/doll changed by adapting to its surroundings so it’s kind of 1+1 when you see they’re laughing at the violence and you see the violence, and you [Chucky] just want to do what makes them happy.
For Mark, this is a kind of role you could’ve played completely campy if you chose to but there’s almost a poignancy to the way you’ve voiced Chucky, and I’m curious how you found that right sort of level with him and were there any particular influences because I know you’re an encyclopedia of animation voice actors. So was there anything that kind of inspired you?
Mark Hamill: We always try and be guided by the script. Now I had Lars and three producers that were all together and it was a really sort of open collaboration because I would try and do maybe 5 in a row, and do slightly different nuances. The interesting thing is to see it assembled, what choices they made. Because he pretty much stays innocent throughout the film, I mean early on you’re doing things (said in Chucky voice) ‘if I can’t be your friend, then nobody can!’ and I do a big shift, but it was too early you know. But I would try and give them… it’s really like giving them jigsaw puzzle pieces that they can assemble later to their liking, so it was basically trying to… they held my hand through the process because obviously they know much better what they want than I did. But, like I say, I love challenges. And it was so much fun to do it. And I was so impressed. I saw the film over and over and over and over. And over. And everyone, it’s pitch perfect in terms of the casting and the performances as far as I’m concerned, so we lucked out in that regard.
To the panel, there is this sense of 80’s nostalgia, E.T, maybe Spielberg too, Stephen King, all of that. So do you have a comment about it and someone told me that you gave him some movies to see, so can you comment about it?
Lars Klevberg: Yeah, there’s a lot of old movies coming back, being remade this time. And you know I think the term ambient feel is a little washed out these days, but for me it all comes from the script and you know people think of ambient like it’s a visual trademark, but for me it’s dealing with like troubled humans, blue collared humans, experiencing something magical and forcing a relationship with something, a new entity or friend and through that you can open up their emotional world and for me reading the script, I kind of had a lot of references from E.T. I pitched it as E.T. on acid for the studio and it kind of summed it all up. But you never want to do 1-to-1, or you just want to find, ok I feel some sort of movies that meant a lot for me when I was younger and I should kind of see what is the reason that I love them. There was more than E.T. but it’s a little bit of an 80’s vibe but it’s mostly in terms of how I would like to present Andy and Chucky and the relationship between them. And yeah, it’s Gabriel, was it you that you watched movies?
Gabriel Bateman: Yeah, you gave me a list.
Lars Klevberg: What movies was it again?
Gabriel Bateman: It was E.T., the original Child’s Play, Gremlins, and a film called Attack the Block I think?
Lars Klevberg: Yeah. It is and the Swedish Let the Right One In which I think is a masterpiece.
Aubrey Plaza: I’m pretty sure you gave me the movie Mommy.
Lars Klevberg: Yes I did.
Brian Tyree Henry: You gave me nothing, Lars! [laughs] which was fine. I was like, I know Child’s Play! I don’t need you to… I got Child’s Play!
Lars Klevberg: Sorry man.
I need another reason to get a Mark Hamill autograph. So are those toys in production? Was the design… did you guys keep in mind about creating Chucky dolls in the future, you know there’s a line of the older ones?
Lars Klevberg: Creating dolls at this stage, I think we didn’t think of the future at all to be honest. There is a lot of hard work to get this doll right from the beginning. But I believe there is some being made, yes. But some people can try to [find them].
Mark Hamill: Are you making those bears that come in?
Lars Klevberg: I know, the bear’s so cool!
Mark Hamill: At the end of the movie, I went Oh no! They’re not going to open their mouths like IT with teeth coming out, are they? It was very restrained as a matter of fact.
Lars Klevberg: There will be products. The cool thing about this experience and this universe is that in the fanbase, the old and the new ones, they’re so into it. So people make it themselves, Buddi dolls and Kaslan products. It’s just amazing.
Two questions. Who came up with the Toy Story marketing campaign for this movie? And the second question is, for each one on the panel, what is your favorite slasher movie or slasher character?
Lars Klevberg: I think for the marketing thing, that has to be the producers. I think they can talk about it. I think the producers in the studio…
Mark Hamill: There they are! In the back of the room. Raise your hands fellas… the guys who are looking back, those are the guys. On Twitter, I got blamed for it, from Toy Story fans. They said, ‘are you doing this?!’ I’m sad to say no, not me. I think it’s brilliant and very tongue-in-cheek and conveys the humor of the movie in a way that’s spectacular and unique.
Lars Klevberg: In terms of the other horror movies, for me, when I think 80’s horror movie I think the remake of The Blob is one that’s high up there.
Brian Tyree Henry: ’88 one? The one in the 80’s?
Lars Klevberg: Yeah.
Brian Tyree Henry: I fucking love that movie. That’s one of my favorites.
Lars Klevberg: That’s the best. I know! It is, right?
Brian Tyree Henry: It’s SO good.
Lars Klevberg: It’s crazy. Yeah it is.
Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah like when it falls down and then the skin melts off. I was like that is fucked up!
Mark Hamill: Now I’m old school. I liked the original Psycho. Cause it was the only movie I remember my parents getting home from seeing it, and they were scared. I’d never seen my dad like that before. So I waited about another 10 years, cause I’m you know… but it’s amazing that film. It’s, I think, perfectly made.
Aubrey Plaza: I’m not a big slasher movie fan. I don’t, I’m not, I don’t want to watch people get stabbed and I don’t want to be stabbed.
Brian Tyree Henry: But you don’t mind pretending to stab people all the time.
Aubrey Plaza: No, no. Not at all. But I go for more the psychological horrors like Misery, that kind of thing. Something that could really happen. That’s scary to me.
Mark Hamill: This couldn’t happen? I’ve got a blender that begs to differ.
Brian Tyree Henry: Alright, like it could happen.
Gabriel Bateman: I don’t watch that much horror, but the first thing that comes to mind is The Shining. It’s one of the first horror films I watched. Yeah, probably that.
Brian Tyree Henry: For me, Candyman. It destroyed my entire fucking childhood.
Mark Hamill: Oh Tony Todd is awesome! Tony Todd is a BEAST!
Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah, I’m like just the voice… I went to school disheveled for like months because I was afraid to look in the mirror. So I was like I don’t care, I’m not going in the bathroom. And I was like, and he’s black! He’s black and I’ve never seen anything like that before. But yeah, and I’m not gonna lie. Chucky was one of my favorites too because I was still a child at that time, when it came out. And most horror movies were like adults getting messed up but then you’ve got this kid who has a toy. And toys are important to you as a child. But I didn’t care about toys after that movie.
Mark Hamill: There’s something about creepy toys. There was a Twilight Zone in ’63. I was too young to see it in prime time, but in the summer I got to stay up late and watch Twilight Zone. It was called Living Doll. And Telly Savalas was sort of the abusive husband and there was a doll called Talking Tina which was a take of Chatty Cathy. June Foray did the voice, and the most chilling line in it is when no other people are around. Talking Tina, instead of saying, ‘My name’s Talking Tina and I love you very much,’ she says to Telly Savalas, ‘My name’s Talking Tina and I’m going to kill you.’ I thought Holy Moly. That was pretty much the height of horror. I mean she didn’t go on a rampage like Chucky but I thought this is a genius idea. I mean there were other Twilight Zones that had a malevolent, ventriloquist dolls that were really alive or another one with Jackie where it was a variation on them, but there’s something about it. You were in Annabelle right? Another scary doll movie.
Gabriel Bateman: Yeah when I was, that was my first of everything I filmed. First or second. Yeah.
Mark Hamill: And you’re making movies that you’re not allowed to go see.
Gabriel Bateman: Yeah. [laughs]
Mark Hamill: Because it’s rated R.
Gabriel Bateman: I watched Annabelle. Like “watched” Annabelle with my eyes closed. I was about 9 at the time, so.
Mark Hamill: Yeah I have people on Twitter saying like look I love you Mark, but I’m sorry. I just can’t do horror. One person even said I’ll buy a ticket but I won’t watch it.
Brian Tyree Henry: That’s all my family. All my family is like yeah we’ll get a ticket. I’m like you’re not gonna go in and watch? And they’re like No! Absolutely not. [under breath] Not really supportive…
Mark, there was a lot of excitement when you were announced as the voice of Chucky. Whether it’s your legacy or even in the trades, we’re in a business essentially in Hollywood and you’re associated with a franchise that made a bajillion dollars. Do you feel like a hot commodity?
Mark Hamill: No. To tell you the truth, when I agreed to it, and it sunk in that they wanted me to do this, I felt intimidation like I hadn’t felt since I did The Joker. Cause when I did the Joker, there was often the backlash of people being mad before they even saw him. ‘Michael Keaton’s a comedy actor! You know he can’t play Batman!’ So I thought when I auditioned for the job as the Joker, there’s no way they’re going to cast this icon of virtue. Luke Skywalker is the Joker? Forget about it! So I had no performance anxiety, because I knew they couldn’t hire me. It was only when they hired me that I thought Oh no, I can’t do this because so many people have expectations of what he’s supposed to sound like. But I didn’t feel that kind of intimidation until it had sunk in that I was doing this. Because you know the originals have such partisan following. You know, there’s people saying you can’t touch this! You’re no Brad Dourif. Which I agree, I love Brad! But it’s a great responsibility so I’m anxious to see how people react. Because it’s not the Chucky we all know from before.
Child’s Play hits theaters everywhere nationwide June 21st!