If you haven’t seen Cult of Chucky yet, there’s still time to watch it before Halloween. If you have seen it, you’ll really appreciate this talk with Jennifer Tilly about Tiffany’s evolution in the seventh Chucky film, but if you’re saving Cult of Chucky for Halloween night she doesn’t spoil anything for you.
Curse of Chucky established that Tiffany was still alive, after Seed found her successfully possessing the body of actor Jennifer Tilly. Child’s Play creator Don Mancini ran with that in the complicated, self-reflexive Cult of Chucky. Cult of Chucky is now available on streaming, Netflix, Blu-ray and DVD.
Franchise Fred: When Don Mancini writes a new Chucky, does he call you and explain what he has planned?
Jennifer Tilly: Yeah, I get so excited. After we did Bride of Chucky we would get together, we’d have lunch and he said, “Oh, I have this great idea, Seed of Chucky, you’re going to play the Tiffany doll and you’ll play yourself.” We would just brainstorm what would be really fun storylines for my character? What would be some funny jokes we could come up with? Then with Curse of Chucky, he called me and said Universal wanted to get more serious and they thought the franchise had been getting too campy. So I didn’t expect to be in it and then he called me and said that Tiffany was in. I didn’t have much to do. I show up for a scene in the movie and I mail some random body parts to people and I was like, great. I love the Chucky fans. I love being Tiffany and I just loved that I was a part of it.
When he came up with Cult of Chucky, he called me up and he said, “Oh my God, I wrote you a part. You’re going to love it. You’re going to be hot and you have a hot love scene.” Of course, at my age now, I don’t get offered the hot love scenes very much. I’m literally going out for grandmother parts now. So I was very excited to see what he came up with. Usually when I get scripts, I skip forward really fast to see what’s going to happen, like how many lines I have. I count my lines and think about how much money I’m going to ask for. This movie, I remember reading the first sentence in the screenplay and I was reading it like it was a Stephen King novel. I could not put it down. I just wanted to see what was going to happen and Don writes so beautifully. I think it’s beautifully realized.
Even though the screenplay was so great, I just really think he came into his own in this film. He called it Bunuel Chucky but I feel like it’s quite Hitchcockian. I’m very happy with how the film turned out and it was really fantastic to get to work with Fiona Dourif this time. The last movie I came in towards the end but I didn’t have any scenes with Fiona. I had some scenes with Fiona in this movie, and boy did I. You’ll understand when you see it.
JT: Fiona is such an amazing actress. I remember when he was casting the part, he showed me a video of her and goes, “Oh my God, I really hope we can get her.” He was really entranced by her and I think he’s so lucky to have her in this movie and in this franchise. It creates this extra special weirdness that she is Brad Dourif’s daughter, especially when you think of some of the events that transpire in Cult of Chucky.
She has this sort of unearthly beauty. I don’t think it would work if she was “model pretty.” She just has this insanely expressive face. It’s like an Ingrid Bergman or something, just when she’s looking out the window and you’re looking at her face. You don’t even care what the rest of the movie is going on around her. You could just stare at her face for hours. I said to her after the film, “You know, you could probably get an Oscar nomination but I don’t really see in the future that Chucky movies are ever going to get Oscar nominations” but I think that she will probably in the next 10 years get one. She’s such a good actress.
The thing that’s amazing about her is you never see her acting. You see her thinking. You see her behaving. You see her reacting also but it’s funny in this movie because the environment she’s in is so grim and bleak and her situation is very bleak and she’s in a wheelchair, so she basically cannot act with her body so much but the upper half of her body. And her character doesn’t really have that much of a sense of humor, but she’s so imminently watchable, you’re really rooting for her. That’s really a testament to her talent and also to Don’s writing.
If people get the Blu-ray and they can see all the Chucky movies, you can see his evolution as a filmmaker. There are so many references to other films that have gone before. Some of the classics, like the Brian De Palma Blow Out to the ultra campy. He has John Ritter get killed in a way reminiscent of Pinhead in the Clive Barker movies. He really loves horror movies and I think that’s why the franchise has flourished after 30 years is because Don writes what he wants to see. He is like the biggest Chucky fan. It’s like oh my God, the fans are going to love it. This is what I want to see.
He brought back Alex Vincent who played the original Andy Barclay when he was six or seven years old, 30 years later and now he’s a 35-year-old bearded vigilante because of his childhood totally fucked him up. All the studios were like, “Oh great, you’re going to bring Andy Barclay back. Who can we get? Maybe Zac Efron is available.” But Don’s like, “No, it has to be the original Andy Barclay.” It gives it an amazing resonance. He had faith in Alex Vincent that he could do the part and the fans just went crazy over it.
I really do think that Don is really somewhat of a genius. He understands that people have an emotional connection to the characters in the Chucky movies. That’s why he does not want to relinquish hold of this franchise ever and I hope he doesn’t because as long as Don is at the helm, I have job security. I really do believe Don is going to put me in every movie. Even if I’m 90 and I can’t walk or talk or anything, “Jennifer, how about you can be this homeless woman. Chucky can trip over you or something. You’ll be like a bundle of rags in the corner of the screen.” I’ll be like, “Okay, what’s my paycheck.” [Laughs] He said he sees me as his lucky charm but I prefer to say muse because I think muse sounds a little more elegant and elevated than lucky charm.
FF: In your career, you’ve played a few femme fatales, including my favorite, Bound. Has Tiffany been an homage to your own femme fatale characters?
JT: You know what? I think when you see Cult of Chucky, there is an homage to Bound at the end, a pretty obvious homage. Don is a big Bound fan being a gay man. I do feel like actually in Seed of Chucky there’s also a reference to Bound. When I try to seduce the director, I say, “Oh, I’m very close to Gina Gershon” and I imply that maybe he can come over and we can have a threesome, which obviously is not going to happen.
I think in this movie, she’s more like Violet than any of the other films. This is what I love about the character. She evolves. In the first one she’s sort of a trashy sloppy white trash goth girl. Now in this movie she’s a little more sultry. She’s very manipulative. She’s very diabolical and she’s the one that sort is setting things into motion. She’s kind of the man with the plan now so I think what you’ll see in this movie is that Tiffany has maturity. She’s grown up and in this movie more than any other movie.
Before she was more like sort of a giddy girl. In this movie she is definitely more of a femme fatale. I don’t think that was unconscious on Don’s part. I think he deliberately wanted to set that up perhaps for what transpires in Chucky 8 which we know there’s going to be a Chucky 8.
FF: Not just Bound, but Bullets Over Broadway and other roles.
JT: In Bullets Over Broadway, that character was sort of crass and classless. She wasn’t a particularly successful femme fatale, or she wasn’t a successful actress either but she had what Tiffany has, this extreme self-confidence and narcissism. I think there’s something very interesting about characters that are very unapologetic and don’t do a whole lot of soul searching. I think that would be something that Violet and Tiffany all have in common. They’re not super self-actualized. They’re not really reflexive on where did I go wrong? Violet would never say, “Do I look fat in this dress?” They’re all very confident in their feminine wiles. They’re all very strong characters, the trifecta. The Jennifer Tilly trifecta of femme fatales.
FF: What are your hopes for Tiffany in the future after Cult of Chucky?
JT: I just love the direction he’s taking, not to give away spoilers. In the future, I would really love if she took a more prominent position. I would love if she had some romance and perhaps some drama. I love that she is able to interact with Chucky in a fresh, new way. I like that I would really like it if we did not go back into the doll for a while. Now, because of the new spell that Chucky came up with, it seems like it’s possible to be both. In Seed of Chucky I played the doll Tiffany and also Jennifer Tilly. At one point I played Tiffany in Jennifer Tilly which was an acting challenge also. I hope in the next movie I have the acting challenge where I play Tiffany in Jennifer Tilly’s body and Tiffany in the doll because I love both. I like acting in the flesh but I love being the incarnation of Tiffany in the little plastic body as well.