Chucky's Classic Design Came Together For A Very Unique Reason

Tom Holland's 1988 film "Child's Play" was, at its heart, an indictment of an ever-bloating Christmastime consumption frenzy. Between 1983 and 1986, Coleco's Cabbage Patch Kids were the most in-demand toy of the season, and stories were regularly written about the dolls' success and the riots caused by parents trying to buy them. Embittered by the frenzy, "Child's Play" screenwriters Don Mancini, John Lafia, and Holland wrote a movie about the hottest Christmas toy of the season — in their script, an electronic talking interactive doll called a Good Guy — coming to life and committing murder. The conceit was that a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) was mortally wounded when fleeing a pursuing cop (Chris Sarandon). With his dying breaths, he chanted a magical spell and shunted his soul into a nearby Good Guy doll. The doll comes into the possession of the young Andy (Alex Vincent) and his single mother (Catherine Hicks), and it takes them the bulk of the film to discover that their beloved Good Guy, calling itself Chucky, is alive. 

To date, "Child's Play" has had six sequels, a remake, and is currently spun off into a Syfy TV series called "Chucky." In all that time, Chucky's soul has been transmigrated into multiple dolls, he was resurrected by an ex-girlfriend who he would marry and have a doll child with, and he would eventually occupy multiple dolls and human bodies at the same time. 

The design of the Chucky doll was partly inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids, and partly by the popular My Buddy doll. It was also a very deliberate design. In a recent press conference attended by /Film's BJ Colangelo, Don Mancini talks about how the doll was specifically described in the script, and how the specificity was urged by a lawyer friend of his.

Just in case it becomes popular

Mancini says that a lawyer from the WGA — an unnamed friend of his — understood the legal hassles in case Chucky were to become popular. This was the late 1980s, after all, and slashers were big business. This was about the time when Freddy Krueger was set to get his own holiday. Mancini's friend explained that the design needed to be legally specific so that Mancini could be considered the character's legal creator. Mancini went into the script and added details. Chucky was to be two feet tall, he was to have brown hair and blue eyes, he was to have freckles, and he was to wear blue overalls and red sneakers. A "look" had to be invented on the page so as to play into the stringent language of intellectual property laws. 

Mancini admits that a brown-haired doll in blue overalls is still a generic description, and it would be the longtime producer of "Child's Play," David Kirschner, that would draw the first sketch. Chucky officially had a look. 

Mancini also hastens to add that Chucky's look changes from film to film based on the demands of the story. Most dramatically, Chucky was found crushed to pieces at the start of "Bride of Chucky," and his face needed to be stitched back together with black string. That Chucky looks positively Frankensteinian. This is in addition to the general requirements of having to build a new doll with each entry in the series. No doll is going to look 100% like the one you made last time. 

In the same interview, actress Jennifer Tilly interjects with how much fun the little tweaks and changes have been over time. The "Cult of Chucky" doll looks noticeably different from the "Child's Play 3" doll.

The voices

Of course, having multiple Chuckys over the years — as well as multiple Chuckys in one movie, in the case of 2017's "Cult of Chucky" — would be an acting challenge for Dourif who has played Chucky in every installment (the remake notwithstanding; that was Mark Hamill). Dourif, in talking to /Film, pointed out that mere inflection required a lot of work, and how a three-in-one Chucky required a high register, a medium register, and a low register. He would record one character all the way through a scene, then go back and do another. Sadly, the amusing image of Dourif having entire conversations with himself in a recording booth is not afforded to the enthused fan. 

Dourif was also careful not to reveal any of the details for the upcoming season of the "Chucky" TV series because "they'll have me killed." 

"Chucky" follows the titular doll into the arms of a quiet, suffering queer teen named Jake (Zackary Arthur) who buys him at a yard sale. Chucky attempts to father Jake and urges him toward murder. Jake will have to team up with his nascent boyfriend and one-time bully to take down the deadly doll. 

The second season of "Chucky" will begin airing on Syfy on October 5, 2022.