When this summer’s latest “Child’s Play” movie hits the big screen later this month — the first in the long-running franchise to be made without the involvement of series creator Don Mancini — its central baddie will not only have a different look, but also a different voice and motivation. In this version of the crazed doll horror movie, Mark Hamill takes over as homicidal doll Chucky, lending his voice work to another iconic role, as the beloved Luke Skywalker actor has also done lauded work as the Joker on “Batman: The Animated Series.”
While Hamill’s ability to move from a classic good guy to one of the comic book world’s most legendary villains speaks to his range, at a recent press conference for the film (via Den of Geek), he admitted that the Chucky role scared him in a way reminiscent of his feelings towards taking on the Joker.
“When I agreed to it, and it sunk in that they wanted me to do this, I felt intimidation like I hadn’t felt since I did the Joker,” he said. “I thought, when I auditioned for the Joker, there’s no way they’re going to cast this icon of virtue, Luke Skywalker, as the Joker. Forget about it. So I had no performance anxiety because I knew they couldn’t hire me. It’s only when they hired me that I really thought, ‘Oh no, I can’t do this because so many people have expectations of what he’s supposed to sound like.'”
Hamill is also taking over the role from horror mainstay Brad Dourif, and he didn’t shy away from acknowledging that particular pressure as well. “It’s a great responsibility, so I’m anxious to see how people react because it’s not the Chucky that we all know from before,” Hamill said. “I thought the crucial element that was different from the original, which I love — I’m a huge fan of Brad’s interpretation — Chucky has a different origin. So it’s not the soul of a serial killer, but someone deliberately goes in and alters his operating system and takes off the safety measures.”
In the new “Child’s Play,” newcomer Gabriel Bateman stars as Andy Barclay, a young boy who comes into possession of a murderous doll. Aubrey Plaza stars as Andy’s mother, while “Atlanta” favorite Brian Tyree Henry plays the local detective investigating all of the recent murders. And, as Hamill mentioned, the origin story has been tweaked in a very modern way: the doll is no longer possessed by a serial killer, but instead grows into a killer after his AI-driven safety protocols are turned off.
Basically, he learns to be a psychotic murderer from the world around him, not because an actual psychotic murderer is lodged in his tiny doll body. “He was really like an innocent child, really, just learning from what goes around him,” Hamill explained. “But I thought that was crucial.”
“Child’s Play” will open in theaters nationwide June 21. You can get a sense of Hamill’s performance in the film via the trailer below.