Chucky’s Don Mancini on Glen, Glenda, and Embracing Queer Representation

Chucky’s Don Mancini on Glen, Glenda, and Embracing Queer Representation

Can you hear that diabolical cackle? Chucky returns soon! The hit horror series continues the killer doll’s reign of terror that began with Child’s Play back in 1988 with a sly, campy sense of humour and a remarkable ability to evolve with the times. At a recent Chucky press day, Gizmodo got a chance to learn more about what’s in store for season two from creator Don Mancini.

This season, we’ll meet Glen and Glenda — twin children of Chucky and Tiffany (yes, the dolls… yes, it’s complicated… just watch 2004’s Seed of Chucky and don’t ask too many questions, ok?) — played as young adults by Lachlan Watson (Theo on Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). Speaking to a group of journalists including Gizmodo, Mancini couldn’t divulge too much about what’s in store for the pair without spoiling the plot. But he did explain a bit about the technical wrangling that went into bringing the characters to Chucky.

“Working with Lachlan Watson was a blast. They’re completely amazing in those roles and there were times when we were doing it that it felt like — even though I had to explain the reference, it felt like The Patty Duke Show, or Bewitched,” Mancini, name-checking a pair of vintage TV shows where one actor plays two characters who often share scenes. “It’s relatively simple split-screen effects that aren’t so simple when you actually have to do it. It’s surprisingly complicated. And Lachlan fortunately just took to it like a duck to water, not only being able to play these two different characters, but just the technical challenges of having to play opposite yourself.”

Watson’s transformation from Glen to Glenda, or vice versa, was something Mancini and his team built into the shooting schedule. “Lachlan would typically be in costume as Glenda, and we would do the Glenda side of the scene, and then they would have to be sent off to hair and makeup for an hour and a half to do the transformation into Glen,” Mancini said. “And so we would always have to be careful to schedule other stuff to shoot during that hour and a half waiting for Lachlan to come back to us as Glen.”

It was a challenge, but a fun challenge, Mancini said, with an important driving force behind it. “I hope that our queer audience, our trans audience, will really love these characters and the performances that Lachlan gave as these characters. I hope they love it as much as I do, because it was really important to us that we honour the trans experience with these characters.”

Chucky’s Don Mancini on Glen, Glenda, and Embracing Queer Representation

Fans of Chucky season one — and there are a lot; the show was a smash hit for Syfy and USA — know that queer representation won’t be new for season two. Two of the show’s main teen characters, Jake (Zackary Arthur) and Devon (Björgvin Arnarson), fell in love last season while dodging Chucky’s homicidal wrath together, and it’s a relationship Mancini was happy to revisit. “All of us who work on the show were so excited that the Jake and Devon romance — ‘Jevon’ — worked as well as it did, and the fans really responded very positively to that,” he said. “So I wanted to continue that relationship and I wanted to be personal with it and honour some of my own experiences, because [when I was] a teen horror fan, I wish that I could have seen some [queer] representation for myself watching this stuff. So it’s great that the world has evolved, that we can do this now, and we can do it fairly casually actually, which is awesome.”

By “casually,” he means that “Jevon” are a seamless part of the narrative. Queer kids exist; that’s just normal life, and is therefore just another part of the story here. Of course, in Chucky’s case, there’s the added factor of a killer doll on the loose, not to mention the fact that Jake and Devon get shipped off to a Catholic reform school early in season two. “One of the struggles that young gay people often have is tension with their faith,” Mancini said. “As a kid who was raised Catholic, I certainly had authority figures waving their fingers at me, telling me that I was bad and going to hell. And I wanted to look at what that’s like for a gay kid, or two gay kids, in a relationship, in a budding romance, [and] what that kind of stress does to the relationship. It gets very fraught for them even without having to defend themselves against multiple Chucky dolls who want to kill them. Those poor boys have a lot going on!”

It all comes back to the fact that despite Chucky’s gleeful gore and the diabolical antics of its villains, the show also has a remarkably caring heart. “I think fans will enjoy seeing the progression of [Jake and Devon’s] relationship,” Mancini said. “And I think Glen and Glenda as well, their situation is very interesting. And as I said earlier, it was important to all of us, including Lachlan, that we honour the trans experience through our own cockeyed metaphorical lens.”

Chucky returns October 5 on Syfy and USA.

Want more Gizmodo news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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