Among the more exciting aspects of the upcoming Child's Play remake is hearing Chucky voiced by Mark Hamill, famed for his roles as Luke Skywalker and, across animation and video games, The Joker. However, the addition of the actor as the homicidal doll was just as surprising to the film's cast and crew as it was to fans.
Child's Play director Lars Klevberg recently revealed to CBR why he was set determined to land Hamill for the crucial role.
"When I first signed onto the movie, the first thing I saw online was 'Who's going to be Chucky? No one can replace Brad Dourif," Klevberg recalled. "That was within the first minutes. But when you're making a movie it's so daunting, all those things you have to kind of push them away ... as you shoot the movie. You have to know that Brad Dourif is so respected in the community and did such a great job voicing Chucky."
Acclaimed for onscreen roles in such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Mississippi Burning, Dourif played Chucky in all seven previous franchise installments, and will reprise the role in the announced television series. Needless to say, the actor is virtually synonymous with the iconic character.
"I knew I needed someone who could pull this off," Klevberg said. "And second, we need someone people can relate to, and understand, and respect. With the studio, they were looking for someone like an A-list star. For me, it was looking for someone who could pull it off. Someone who could portray a character and an arc that was very interesting for me. Someone who could manipulate his voice, and of course do the job as a voice performance."
"I know how Mark Hamill has portrayed his performances [in the past]," the director continued. "I know he's done live-action, but I also know him from my geek side that he's a brilliant voice performer. From playing Joker [on Batman: The Animated Series] and other cartoons. And I went, 'This is who we need,' and everyone went, 'Ohhh, let's do it!'"
The producers then reached out to Hamill. "He read [the script] and loved it," Klevberg recalled, "and he wanted to come on board. And he watched all the Chucky movies, all the Child's Play movies back to back! He did all this research, and said 'I haven't been this excited for a role in a long time.'"
Klevberg gushed over Hamill, saying, "He's really amazing, and super-professional, and he's carried entire legacies on his shoulders for decades. Everyone knows him from Luke Skywalker, but there's a few people who know what he's able to do as a voice actor. It's just amazing. When he accepted it, I was so happy. It's so cool... he's a great guy. Very down to earth, very respectful guy, and he really wanted to be respectful and pay homage to the original. It's not like [Hamill] stepped in and said 'Screw that I want to do it this way.' No, he did his research and wanted to pay homage to Dourif while also wanting to do his whole thing. It's amazing."
Despite taking on one of the main roles of the film, it was only announced last month that Hamill had been cast. During production, a crew member played Chucky on set.
"On set we had the lead puppeteer, doing the remote control on the animatronic," Klevberg said. "And there are always a lot of people doing that, but there's always at least one lead puppeteer who is the character, and he'll perform as the character. He's almost an actor, but also incredibly technically skilled. He was the voice on set. That meant we could actually improvise on set... I was watching the monitor, and the puppeteer is a huge fan of the original [Child's Play], he'd shout out some dirty comments, and it was hilarious."
Directed by Lars Klevberg from a script by Tyler Burton Smith, Child's Play stars Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman, Tim Matheson and Mark Hamill. The film opens on June 21.