Home Horror Entertainment News Don Mancini Takes Us Behind the Scenes of the ‘Chucky’ TV Series

Don Mancini Takes Us Behind the Scenes of the ‘Chucky’ TV Series

by Waylon Jordan
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Don Mancini Chucky

Don Mancini is over-the-moon about the response to Chucky, the series based on his film franchise, and he sat down with iHorror today to discuss how and why he made the move to the small screen, and why he’s looking forward to a second season.

The idea for a Chucky series was actually born after Mancini worked with Bryan Fuller on the series Hannibal. The writer/director recalls how exciting it was to sit in a room of people who were not only talented writers but also superfans of the film franchise to further develop the characters they had loved on the big screen under Fuller’s supervision. He marveled at the joy in the work, and was eager to see if his own franchise could be the same.

“Behind the scenes, the process of making a television show by its very nature invites in a lot more super talented people: writers, directors, producers, and also the cast,” he told us. “On a TV show the cast is vast compared to the last couple of movies which were intentionally small-scaled. It’s an opportunity for great collaboration and I love collaborating. They have that sort of fan’s enthusiasm that I had for Hannibal and that Bryan more importantly had for Hannibal. I knew that inviting in all these people to elevate this iteration of the franchise was a super exciting opportunity. It seems like it worked out.”

One of the things Mancini was excited to explore in the series was creating a central gay, adolescent character and building the series around him rather than putting him in a supporting role.

The Child’s Play franchise has a long history of inclusivity going back to Bride of Chucky, and the out gay creator of the franchise was keen to take that to the next level.

“A young teen gay lead in a tv show, specifically a horror show, seemed like a great opportunity for fan representation,” Mancini explained. “It was interesting to do something that personal. I mean, all of this stuff is personal, of course, but this was more like superficially and not so superficially. There’s a lot of this kid’s angst I could identify with, and I think a lot of gay guys can. It seemed like a big opportunity, and it’s so gratifying that it landed. That was really the thing that was most important to me.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that they found what was undeniably the perfect actor for the role in Zackary Arthur, and Mancini was quick to give casting director Bonnie Zane credit for bringing the young actor on board.

Zackary Arthur was pitch perfect casting for the leading role of Jake Wheeler in Chucky.

Arthur has such a natural presence on camera whether he’s playing the shy, introverted artistic kid with a crush or trying to psych himself up to do the things Chucky prods him to do. It wasn’t only his naturalism, however. Mancini pointed out that he shares an innate quality with franchise star Fiona Dourif that made him a compelling, necessary part of the series.

“They both portray trauma compellingly and believably,” he pointed out. “So much of what Chucky is about, what this genre is about, and you could argue what drama is about is putting characters through an emotional wringer and Zack is really able to embody that in a way that is very exciting to see on screen.”

Mancini was further excited about the addition of Devon Sawa to the series. The actor, famous for his role in the original Final Destination, brought a legit horror pedigree with him to set playing a set of identical twins, and **spoiler** Mancini joked that Chucky succeeded twice where Death failed.

The actor didn’t rely on his reputation either. The creator said he was impressed with Sawa’s taped audition before the scene even began.

Devon Sawa Chucky

Devon Sawa pulls double-duty in Chucky as Lucas and Logan Wheeler.

“You know when actors do these things it starts with, ‘Hi, I’m Devon Sawa. My agent is blah blah blah and I’m reading for the role of X’ and then they just go into it,” Mancini pointed. “But with that, he did this whole dissertation, almost academic, of the two characters and the sort of backstory that he had filled in in the space that was suggested by the couple of scenes that he had at his disposal. So, as he’s explicating the characters in this incredibly thoughtful way, I was thinking oh my god please be good, please be good, please be good, because I knew if he was, this was going to be great. I’ve been saying for months now that he doesn’t disappoint in person. He’s an incredible actor, incredibly easy going nice guy.”

Season one of Chucky was just the beginning for Mancini and his talented crew and cast, however, and he fully admits with their recent greenlight that the pressure is on for season two. He’s hard at work crafting the first episode as I write this.

What he relished most over the eight-week run of the first season was the interaction with the audience as they tried to guess what might happen next and whose secrets would be exposed. That immediate, ongoing feedback from viewers made each week exciting for the man who has worked with Chucky and his ongoing story for decades.

“It was a positive experience for us because people liked the show,” he said. “If that hadn’t been the case, it would have been awful! It’s basically eight weeks of having fun with the audience, designing these little one hour movies. Of course, it being television you set a lot of fuses burning early in the season and it’s designed to come together at the end and flare up. That’s a lot of fun to do.”

You can see Chucky in its entirety streaming on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock, right now, and whether it’s your first time or you’re ready for a re-watch, it’s a bloody good time!