With the new Child’s Play hitting DVD and Blu-ray, we caught up with director Lars Klevberg to chat about updating a classic…
STARBURST: The idea of remaking an iconic movie like Child’s Play must have been daunting. So what was it that originally hooked you on the project and made you think “I have to direct this”?
Lars Klevberg: Well, my agent sent me this script and I read it, the script for Child’s Play, and I didn’t know what to think about it. I didn’t know if I wanted to do a remake of it. But what I did think about it was that it was a really well-told story, a really great script.
What I connected with most was the idea of Chucky, which was different from Chucky in the past. He was an AI He was a child who was capable of learning. His motivation was incredible, he just wanted to be part of the family home. I just fell in love with the script, so that’s why I wanted to do it.
It was surprising how sympathetic Chucky was in this film. You say a lot of that came from the script but how did you approach that as a director? How important was it that we cared about him?
When I read it I saw Chucky as a toddler almost. In the sense that he has an innocence and a curiosity. And at the beginning there wasn’t anything bad inside of him, there wasn’t anything evil inside of him. It’s actually his environment and the human beings around him that corrupt him. So I wanted people to not just hate him, but understand him. To feel some emotion towards him. That was the great thing about the script.
You, of course, had Mark Hamill on board to play Chucky. He was cast after production completed, but was his the voice you envisioned for the character during filming?
While I was developing this movie, I had a kind of sense of what Chucky would look like and how he would act and a clear idea of what he would sound like. So I knew I needed an actor that, first of all, was a really great actor, someone who could handle the emotion and the complexity, And I also knew that I needed someone with a background in voice acting.
So Mark Hamill was the obvious choice. I knew he’d played the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. I knew he was able to use his voice in a way that was very, very unique. He was just the best choice by far.
He’s reliable, professional, he has such a professional way of working. He watched all the Child’s Play movies back to back. All the Brad Dourif movies, to get inside Chucky’s head. He was just amazing. He was just amazing.
As well as Hamill, you had three talented lead actors for the human characters - Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman and Brian Tyree Henry. Could you explain how the casting process came together for them?
Yeah, well, for Andy we knew we needed someone who could carry the movie in the way the story and the script demanded. Someone who could portray a wide range of realistic emotions. Someone who the audience could connect to. And also someone who could be on set in every day, work hour after hour, opposite an animatronic doll [laughs]. So we knew that finding that person would be a tough task. And we looked at a lot of profiles, saw a lot of actors, but Gabriel was the one that stood out… We put him in the same room as Aubrey Plaza for a chemistry read and it was just amazing.
And, you know, Aubrey was… We needed someone that could play the mother, play a young mum at that age and who could fully realise those emotions but who was also funny. And Aubrey is one of those incredible actors, one of the few that can do that.
For Brian, he’s such a horror fan so, for me, casting him was a no-brainer. When we sent him the script, for secrecy the name on the script wasn’t Child’s Play or Chucky, and the doll’s name was Charles, and when Brian read it he got about ten pages in and he went “wait, is this Child’s Play?” I said “No, it’s Charles” and he said “Come on, get outta here.” [laughs] And he was incredible in his role, too.
We notice there aren’t any deleted scenes on the DVD release. Are there any particularly interesting unused sequences that you remember from either filming or the scripting stage that didn’t make it into the final cut?
Like any movie, there are scenes you have to take out because of pacing, because they don’t serve the story right or because they’re not good enough… I don’t know, there was some more emotional stuff between Andy and his mum, and also Karen and Mike, towards the start of the movie. And, you know, like, some more of Chucky and Andy and their friendship at the beginning, before the horror stuff happens.
So just scenes that don’t further the story enough to warrant having them there. There are a couple of scenes that I really like that I’d love to have in there but, when you look at the movie as a whole… There’s just no need for them. They don’t add anything necessary.
Maybe in 10 years from now, for the ten year anniversary [special edition], you will see them [laughs].
We don’t know how much you can say about this but can you offer any update on the chances of a sequel happening?
Well, our aim was to make a movie that was standalone, a good movie, just the best movie that we could try to make. But, you know, there’s stuff there at the end of the movie that could go somewhere. I don’t know, we’ll have to see but I’m hoping [the studio] say yes.
If a sequel did get off the ground, what new elements would you like to explore in it?
Uhhhh… Well, I have some ideas that I can’t talk about. Hopefully you’ll get to see them so I don’t want to spoil it [laughs].
And finally, if you had to, what other classic movie, horror or otherwise, would you choose to remake?
That I would like to remake? Uh… I don’t know, man. Enter the Dragon, maybe. Yeah, that’s one of my favourites.
Child’s Play is released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download on October 21st.