Jennifer Tilly Kisses And Tells About Chucky, Playing Herself, And Why Being Unlikeable Is Funny – Exclusive Interview
Jennifer Tilly is many things to many people. For some, her work in the film “Bound” was a queer awakening. For others, she’s one of the best poker players in the world. For horror fans, Jennifer Tilly isn’t even alive — she’s merely a meat suit being tooled around by the homicidal maniac Tiffany Valentine from the “Chucky” franchise. The truth is that Jennifer Tilly is actually (probably) only two of those things, but you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder who exactly this Jen of all trades really is.
Thankfully, with the return of “Chucky” in his own TV series, Jennifer Tilly is answering all sorts of questions about her career and life. Looper got to sit down with Tilly to find out what it’s like playing a fictionalized version of herself that just so happens to be possessed by a killer puppet. It’s been four years since her “Chucky” character Tiffany Valentine first hooked up with the Chucky-possessing Nica (played by Fiona Dourif), and we’re now finally finding out what that looks like — and how Tilly feels about making out with Dourif.
What would Jennifer Tilly do if she could have multiple versions of herself? What wouldn’t she do in that case might be a better question. Read on to find out why Jennifer Tilly might just be the hardest working person in show business.
Jennifer Tilly on playing a ridiculous version of herself
In the world of “Chucky,” Jennifer Tilly is dead and her body is possessed by Tiffany Valentine. Has that had any real life implications for you?
It’s really funny because Don [Mancini] even incorporated into some scripts, like when I come in in “Cult of Chucky,” and Fiona [Dourif] goes, “You look a lot like Jennifer Tilly,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I get that a lot.” And sometimes, I think she had a line in one of the movies where she goes, “Am I Chucky? No. Am I Tiffany? And am I Jennifer? Even I get confused sometimes.” I have to say that first, that meta thing, first happened in “Seed of Chucky.” And I was playing myself, Jennifer Tilly, international film star, but we did an exaggeration, because we thought it was really funny of Jennifer Tilly. So we made me a desperate, fading star that was really narcissistic and self-involved. And I think a little bit of that stuck, because you know, you can make fun of your career if you think your career is in a great place.
And then people took up the refrain like, “Oh, she was Oscar nominated and now she’s ****ing a puppet.” I was like, “Hey, we wrote that. That’s self-deprecating humor. It’s not true. I chose to do this movie.” So that was a little funny, that people started confusing that Jennifer Tilly in the movie as the real Jennifer Tilly. And I remember this studio actually had them rewrite it a little bit, because they said, “Oh, she’s so mean.” And we’re like, “Yes, it’s funny.” And they’re like, “She’s really unlikable.”
And there was one scene we actually reshot, where I come out of the studio, after I find the dead body, which is Tony Gardner, and all the paparazzi was out front. And it’s sort of like “A Star is Born.” She’s like, “Oh my God.” She’s posing and everything.
And then she gets in the car and she calls her assistant. She’s like, “Turn on the TV.” She’s like, “Oh my God, everybody, somebody, a man was killed.” And they said, “She’s too excited.” They said, “That makes her really unlikable. She needs to be really sad. A man is dead, after all.”
So we reshot it where I’m like, “Turn on the TV. Yes. A man died at the studio.” Not as funny, but made me more likable. But it’s strange, because if you’re not familiar with the whole “Chucky” trajectory, now in the television series, Tiffany is running around Jennifer Tilly’s body, living Jennifer Tilly’s fabulous life. In fact, there is a scene later on where she shows up at a movie premier as Jennifer Tilly, and it’s really fun to play Tiffany’s idea of how a movie star would act. Lots of glitter. Lots of blowing kisses. So it’s an exaggeration of who I am, and that’s always fun to do.
The joy of having sex with a puppet
Having sex with a puppet may be one of the greatest things that anyone has ever done in a movie ever.
Yeah. You know, we ad-libbed some of those lines, like where I said, “Chucky, wait, do you have a rubber?” And he’s like, “Look at me, baby. I’m all rubber.” I always just say, “Kiddys let that be a lesson. Unprotected sex leads to unplanned pregnancy.”
But it was great when I was doing that scene, because I was in a different booth opposite Brad Dourif, who’s a wonderful actor. And when I ad-libbed, “Do you have a rubber,” he ad-libbed, “I’m all rubber.” And you know, the rest is “Chucky” history. And then also, too, there’s this humor. He’s French kissing me, and I made a gargling noise because his tongue came out and started rotating around in my throat. So actually I did that in looping. It’s so much fun. I mean, you do not know what fun is until you play a little homicidal doll and have love scenes with other homicidal dolls.
On kissing Fiona Dourif as the new Chucky
It’s exciting because now that you’re on the show, it also means that Fiona Dourif is on the show. And it means that this now four years old thing that we were promised is finally coming to fruition. So what has it been like, you and Fiona figuring out the complex relationship, not just between the characters that we’ve known, but also since she’s Nica some of the time, how has that been, working that together?
It’s really amazing, because Fiona is a phenomenal actress, and I’m just so happy, because as an actor, if you have other people that you’re working with that are great actors, it also elevates you. And that’s why I loved working with Brad. He’s like an Oscar nominated actor. Although I don’t ever work with him in person. Now it’s all like, “Oh, we should do like … I was thinking, well, it would be really fun to kiss Chucky in corporeal form.” And it’s funny what you wish for, because I was saying you should do a backstory I can kiss Brad.
And it’s funny how things work out, because I am kissing Chucky, but he’s in Fiona Dourif’s body. So I’m kissing a Dourif, but it’s Fiona. But that said, she is a delightful kisser, I have to say. And it’s interesting, psychologically, for Tiffany because she loves Chucky, and then she starts to fall in love with Chucky Nica, which is the best of both worlds. It’s the yin and the yang, like the tenderness of Nica and the macho-ness of Chucky. But Fiona’s such a great actress. When she’s playing Chucky, when Chucky is inside her, I look at her and I see Brad. I mean, she’s got the swagger. She’s got the voice. It’s such a wonderful thing to watch her act.
I’ve never seen somebody other than Brad Dourif perfectly embody it quite the way that Fiona does.
I feel like when Don cast her, in the back of his mind, because he showed me her video. He’s like, “She’s such a brilliant actor. I love her. She’s so weird.” And he didn’t say weird. That’s writer’s embellishment. But he was saying he loved her. And then he said, “And she’s Brad Dourif’s daughter.” I think way back in the back of his mind, he was like, maybe I can use this someday. Like 14 years down the line, maybe this can be in the storyline. And it was.
What the world would be like with multiple Jennifer Tillys
There’s this whole concept of Chucky is breaking his soul apart so there’s multiple Chuckys out there. If there were multiple Jennifer Tilly’s in the world…
What would that world be like?
Well, I think it would be a better, kinder, more beautiful world. But I wish that I had a lot, because there’s one part of me that wants to stay at home with my boyfriend and stare at the fireplace, and bake chocolate chip cookies. There’s one part of me that wants to be the really serious Broadway actress, and be on the London stage, and be celebrated. Being a theater actress takes a lot of time. And then there’s one person that just wants to like romp around and make Chucky movies, and go on talk shows wearing a Tiffany outfit. That’s the Party Jennifer. Then there’s the Fashionista Jennifer that likes to go to fashion shows. There’d probably be about eight of us, I guess.
And then there’s the poker player. Actually the “Chucky” show, and the acting, kind of cuts into my poker career. Like I want to go down in history as a great poker player, and be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. And that’s a full-time job too.
So there just is not enough time on Earth. Oh, you know, maybe I would go back in time a little bit and pop out some kids, too. That would be the other Jennifer. The very tiny part of me that’s maternal, the little bit that you saw on “Seed of Chucky,” where she looks at Glen with something approaching love in her eyes. Yeah. I forgot to do that, have kids. And now as I’m reaching my declining years, I’m sort of like, “You know, it might be nice to have a kid to push me around in my wheelchair.” So, but yeah, the world is so wonderful, especially post pandemic. I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s such a beautiful, wonderful world.” And I love going out, and seeing people, and meeting my fans, and just enjoying life. So yeah, that’s when it really started to strike me that life is too short to do all the things I want to do.
New episodes of “Chucky” air Tuesdays on SYFY and USA.