Sitting outside a soundstage on the outskirts of Vancouver, Brian Tyree Henry is complaining about one of his costars on the horror movie Child’s Play (out June 21). “He’s a bit of a diva, honestly,” says the Atlanta and If Beale Street Could Talk actor. “He has about six or nine people on his team. He doesn’t really look at you. I try to stay my distance.”
Henry is referring to the highly dangerous, if mercifully fictional, doll Chucky. First introduced to horror audiences in 1988’s original Child’s Play, the character has starred in six sequels, most recently delivering his brand of homicidal mayhem in 2017’s Cult of Chucky. Along the way, Chucky has become a bona fide horror icon and even popped up last year in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which found a group of future-gamers being menaced (“It’s f—ing Chucky!”) and murdered by the knife-wielding maniac. Now, Chucky is back in this remake, which stars Aubrey Plaza as a young mother named Karen who gifts her young son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) a robotic doll, unaware of its sinister potential. Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Lars Klevberg, the project also features the talents of the Chucky-voicing Mark Hamill, Walking Dead composer Bear McCreary, and producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg who oversaw 2017’s It and its upcoming sequel. Henry himself plays a cop named Mike investigating a murder at Karen and Andy’s apartment complex.
“I have four older sisters who would make me watch horror movies as a kid,” says the in-demand actor, explaining why he took the role. “It’s always been one of my favorite franchises.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you start watching the Child’s Play films?
BRIAN TYREE HENRY: When [the first one] came out in ’88, I was six years old. By the time this movie came out, the My Buddy dolls were around. Everybody in my neighborhood had one. I watched this movie. I remember I was too young to go to the theaters to watch it, but by the time it came on VHS we watched it. I remember it being a holiday too. It was right around the time everybody was getting their Christmas gifts. Everybody had a My Buddy doll. I just remember watching this and was like, Oh, this is really terrifying, and then a week later, in my neighborhood, you could [see] everybody’s My Buddy Dolls in the trash. Like, everybody got rid of their dolls because they were like, “No.”
Yeah, man, I’ve just always been a fan of the franchise. Don Mancini (writer-director, who created the character of Chucky) is a brilliant guy. I love everything he’s done. Like, literally, last Thanksgiving, I had my friends over, I ordered like the hugest sweet potato cheesecake, and I was like, “Okay, guys, it’s a marathon. We started with Child’s Play 2.” I have Good Guy doll pins. I’ve always been a fan of the genre. It’s always been just one of my favorite franchises. So it was a no-brainer. And I also like lots of fake blood, that’s one of my dreams to work with wind, rain, and blood.
Tell us about your character.
I really like Mike. He’s a bit different from Chris Sarandon’s character in the first one, which is kind of cool. I feel like he‘s part of the neighborhood, he grew up in this building. I think he sees a lot of himself in Andy — you know, the loner kind of type. He chose to become a part of the police force to protect and serve the community he loves and his Mom is in this building. There becomes this kind of uncanny friendship between the two of them, because it’s about him wanting to protect this kid and knowing that this kid is different. Mike, I just think that he’s a regular kind of guy, man. I think he’s somebody that the kids are cool with. He knows the people in the building. He’s just really chill. I wanted to make him as relatable as possible. I think this is like my fifth detective role. [Laughs] I was like, what is it about me?
Watch the trailer for Child’s Play, above. The movie opens June 21.