How Hannibal helped inspire the Chucky TV show
Child's Play franchise creator Don Mancini says working on the Hannibal Lecter series prompted him to put his killer doll on the small screen.
Don Mancini is best known for dreaming up and overseeing the killer doll Child's Play movie franchise, but he has also worked as a writer-producer on the shows Channel Zero and Hannibal. Mancini tells EW that the time he spent collaborating with executive producer Bryan Fuller on the latter series led him to create the show Chucky which will premiere Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. on USA and SYFY. "I think I first started thinking about it when I was working on Hannibal," says Mancini. "I was such a huge fan of that franchise, the films, the books, so when it became a TV series I was initially skeptical. A TV series? And no Anthony Hopkins? How is this going to work?"
Mancini changed his mind when he actually saw the show, which starred Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen and premiered on NBC in 2013. "Of course, like everybody else, I was blown away. Anyway, I ended up in the Hannibal writers' room. I really loved working on that show, and I loved working for Bryan Fuller, and learned a lot from him. I saw that one of the things that made that show so interesting and exciting was that it was kind of fan fiction written by experts. It was a sort of fanciful imagining initially. What was Hannibal like when he was a practicing psychiatrist consulting with the FBI before anyone knew he was the big bad? That's when I started imagining doing the same thing with Chucky, having eight hours of narrative to play with and doing it with a bunch of like-minded horror geeks and legit Chucky fanatics. I've been around for quite a while now, and I meet a lot of younger people who love the franchise and who grew up on it, and so I felt, wow, if I can cultivate the excitement that they have for Chucky, in the same way I felt Bryan Fuller was able to cultivate my and the other writers' excitement for Hannibal, we could have something really special. At the same time, one of the things I've always tried to do with the franchise over the years is find ways of reinventing it. I realized that taking it into the medium of television would change the lens through which we view the characters in the franchise in a potentially really fruitful way. Just having eight hours of story to deal with necessarily puts you in a position where you're dealing much more with characters and relationships than you can in any single 90-minute movie. All of that just seemed really mouth-watering to me and I'm delighted and slightly shocked that it all worked out."
Working on Hannibal also gave Mancini hope that he would not have to tone down his killer creation for the small screen. "Hannibal really pushed the limits of what you can show on a network show," he says. "Syfy and USA have a strong appetite, as strong as ours, for keeping the TV series tonally in check with what the fans want to see. Before we even sold the show, we had to confirm with the network that Chucky could drop his F-bombs. Chucky gets 10 F-bombs per episode, so that's more than enough. It made me want to do an episode where Chucky, without ever having said anything off-color, at the end of the episode, he just turns to the camera and goes, 'F---, f---, f---, f---, f---, f---, f---, f---, f---.' It's the inverse of the way Spielberg used Chucky in his cameo in Ready Player One. Since that was a PG-13, they had one mandated F-bomb at their disposal and Spielberg chose to deploy it with Chucky's appearance, which I loved."
In Chucky, an idyllic American town is thrown into chaos after a vintage 'Good Guy' doll turns up at a suburban yard sale. Soon, everyone must grapple with a series of horrifying murders that begin to expose the town's deep hypocrisies and hidden secrets. Meanwhile, friends and foes from Chucky's past creep back into his world and threaten to expose the truth behind his mysterious origins as a seemingly ordinary child who somehow became this notorious monster.
Chucky stars Zackary Arthur, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Devon Sawa, Lexa Doig, Teo Briones, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Björgvin Arnarson, and Brad Dourif who voices the titular character. Watch the teaser trailer for the series below.