by Tom Landy
In Part 1 of our exclusive 'Curse of Chucky' coverage, I talked a little about my visit to the set back in the fall of 2012 where I was able to meet and chat a bit with actress Fiona Dourif. Now in Part 2, we'll keep it in the family by spending some time with the voice of Chucky himself -- actor Brad Dourif.
In a career spanning over 30 years, Brad has appeared in numerous film and TV projects with such memorable roles as Doc Cochran on 'Deadwood,' the slimy Grima Wormtongue in Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy, Billy Bibbit in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (which also landed him an Oscar nomination), and of course -- the psychotic redheaded doll with a killer attitude in the 'Child's Play' franchise.
Clad in a 'Chucky' T-Shirt, Brad had actually finished filming earlier in the day, but stayed behind on set just to be interviewed anyway (what a truly awesome guy!). So without further ado, let's sit down with Mr. Dourif and see what he has to say about Chucky, starring in a film with his daughter -- Fiona, and acting in general.
HDD: What made you decide to do another 'Chucky' sequel, Brad?
Brad: Mmmoney (laughs). Um, no, it wasn't money... Trust me. How do you say no to Don? You know? We've been doing this for so long. And then there's the idea of having to live through somebody else doing Chucky. I couldn't handle it, I don't think at this point. I mean, I don't know why I have any fondness for Chucky. He's certainly hasn't earned fondness but um, I don't know. I really don't know. And now, you know, Fiona -- my daughter is doing it, so I'm so glad I did it.
HDD: Brad, do you have a preference between voice acting and traditional on-camera acting?
Brad: I prefer on-camera. By leaps and bounds. On-camera you are so engaged. It's a dance, it's -- um, you rely so heavily on the people that you're working with that that connection is your life. And you know, when whoever I'm working with, I have to get very close to them, and there's a kind of thing that happens on the set that happens nowhere else. And I feel sad when it's over. And yeah, I love it. God, I love it.
HDD: It sounds like an addiction.
Brad: It's worse than an addiction and it can become your life, if you're not careful.
HDD: Chucky often has some pretty hilarious one-liners. How much of that is scripted and do they allow you the freedom to ad lib a lot?
Brad: Well, of course, the only time that I can ad lib, is when we are in the recording studio. I have to record Chucky's voice before -- and it's usually a couple of months before shooting. At least a couple months before shooting because they're building the doll, the puppeteers would like a little time with it, and so forth and so on. So we do that. I do that. And I mean, with -- Jennifer Tilly is really into improvisation. I feel a little intimidated by it. I really prefer other people writing my lines for me. But Jennifer really brought me out and I had a lot of fun and we did do -- some of the best stuff I think, really, in 'Bride' -- was just stuff that happened.
HDD: Oh, I didn't know that.
Brad: Yeah. It was just stuff, we were just messing around. I think the whole thing with the prophylactics kinda just came up.
HDD: You've got to love Jennifer Tilly for that scene. She was great.
HDD: If Chucky was ever to star in a "vs." movie (i.e. 'Freddy vs. Jason'), who would you like to see him go up against?
Brad: OK, it would be very hard, it would be hard for me to imagine with another because Chucky is a doll. He's at a distinct disadvantage. Chucky's advantage is that he can always go (makes a blank deadpan face) and then somebody takes him and carts him off, you know? And then he comes to life and can kill and that's his thing. That's what he can do. The fact that dolls don't kill people, they're just dolls. And you know, you can't imagine Freddy Krueger not seeing straight through that one. And end of Chucky right there. Ummm...'Halloween.' Just as long as Zombie does it. Rob does it. AND Don. Don meets Rob! That would be great. Mancini vs. Zombie! I love it. We should do that.
HDD: Didn't you say Don was always open to some ideas?
Brad: Yes, and there's my idea, Don: Mancini vs. Zombie.
HDD: You've played a wide variety of memorable characters throughout your career. Do you have a personal favorite role?
Brad: First of all, honestly, my tendency is I love whatever I'm doing when I do it and then it's gone -- it's no longer mine anymore. I mean, there was a lot of things that I liked in 'The Lord of the Rings,' and there was a lot of things I liked in 'Deadwood,' that I liked doing, and of course it's been so long since I've done Billy Bibbit that I really don't remember. But there's a lot of other roles that I've played that I've loved for different reasons. But yeah, I don't, I don't have an absolute favorite. I just don't. I don't know.
HDD: It sounds and makes perfect sense that you're vested when you're in it, right?
Brad: Yeah, you're vested when you're in it, and I guess, I guess there was a lot about Wormtongue that was -- I had, of all the villains I've ever played, I had more real sympathy for him than I did for any other person. I really felt like here's someone who was always ugly, who was always just the odd person -- who learned to think ahead to avoid being hurt and then it became something useful. Who more to make -- if you can think ahead about what people are going to do, then you would be a great advisor to a king -- but never can be a part of the family. You know? He could never have what he wanted. And I thought that was -- you start there and you can have a great deal of sympathy for the guy.
HDD: That makes perfect sense. At this point if you had the chance to play any character of your choosing -- who would it be and why?
Brad: Well, I don't know if it would -- I would like to spend, to do something, I mean, the great difficulty and the most rewarding part is being a father, and I don't think I've ever explored that as fully as I would have liked to have -- ever. There's a whole huge amount of feelings and stuff around that. Also, I would like to do something about growing older, that really deals with that because, I mean, it's a problem. How do you grow old? I mean, you can't really, you want to be alive -- you want to be, but your body's not working as well as it used to, things hurt a lot more, you're starting to face death, you know? You start thinking about it more, I mean all of these things... and yet you want to be alive. And you want to enjoy yourself and you don't want to really make your life about that, so how do you do it? You know? And you're not as attractive as you used to be, you know? You don't walk down the street the same way. And people don't take you as seriously anymore. I mean, there's all this stuff that I think is worth expressing.
HDD: To a certain extent you are a horror aficionado because of what you do for a living. Do you have a favorite horror movie?
Brad: I don't watch horror, because I'm the kid who had to go to the bathroom pretty early on in the film and just never returned. I loved to hear about it from my friends and I would lie through the -- "Oh yeah, no man! I was at the back of the theatre I saw the whole thing." But I was too scared. I mean, it really frightened me. There was no way you could keep me -- one of my most embarrassing moments was I was with some friends of mine who I, like, really admired -- one of them was Paul Butterfield. Paul Butterfield. And we went to a drive-in for 'The Omen.' Now I'm in my car! You know? And I can't leave the car, you know? And I am scared to death. I mean, I am really terrified. And I really had to climb into the back and get under the seat and it was no point -- I mean, I humiliated myself completely -- but there was no way I could watch that. I mean, from the moment of "Damien, I'm doing it for you" and she jumps up I'm gone. That was it.
HDD: But you do speak well of a lot of horror films and you know when you talk about Rob Zombie, there are some things that you do seem to be well versed in, if only from a creative standpoint. You know? Looking at it as a filmmaker.
Brad: Yeah. You know, Rob Zombie is -- has anybody, it's amazing... if you have -- to all you young ones out there, if you find yourself being a geek and love horror, there might be a potential for you to make horror films... because that's where they come from. They come from people who love them.
HDD: Yeah, I think they have to. I think they have to.
Brad: Yeah. (Nodding)
HDD: I know you've worked with your daughter Fiona before on 'Deadwood.' What's it like working with her here again?
Brad: I don't know how to describe what it's like, but it was like watching her do her first night of shoot. I don't think, I could never imagine myself being that proud and that happy. She conducted herself with -- I mean, she was extraordinary. She was more than I could ever, ever imagine. She was so professional, she so completely new what she was doing, she was so committed -- her performance was so committed, it was so interesting -- I mean, the camera loved her. And I was going, you know what? She'll be okay. This one, this one will be okay. Watching Fiona work is the most thrilling moment of my career, really.
HDD: One last question, you've also taught acting classes at Columbia. What would be the biggest pointer you could give to someone who is just starting out?
Brad: Yeah. So just to clarify, I taught a course at Columbia University. And the course I taught was Directing Actors. It was for directors and teaching them how to work with actors. How do you keep all of this in your head and still try to get performances from your actors? And one of my students was this young guy who audited my class from NYU. A very bright guy named Don Mancini. And, give me the question...?
HDD: What would be the biggest pointer you can give someone who is just starting out? Either as an actor and as a director, given that it was a course for directors about acting?
Brad: Well, if you're starting out you have to remember #1 that if you're going to direct, the poet is the camera, the script is the skeleton, and the actors and what happens in front of the camera is the meat, blood, and muscle, that is put on the skeleton. You have to know how to write. You have to know how to act, and because you're going to talk to actors you should take an acting class. You have to love music. And you've got to be an artist... a painter. You have to know where to put the camera, and you have to know visually what makes things evocative.
HDD: Great, thanks so much for your time Brad.
Brad: Thank you for such interesting questions.