‘Chucky’ star Jennifer Tilly opens up about her Hollywood career
While some people learned to bake or knit during the pandemic, Jennifer Tilly mastered the art of great lighting. Perched on the makeshift desk she created in her hallway, the actor, who just left his LA Times photoshoot, is in Hollywood glamor from neck to neck – his tousled chestnut curls in a bun. with a killer red lip, surrounded by a halo of carefully angled lamps and natural sunlight from the front door of her Los Angeles home.
“I have learned a lot about lighting, ”explains the quick actor on Zoom. “I read that you look better if you have lights on in the background with a late afternoon light.” It makes sense that Tilly now considers it a science: the actress has spent her nearly 40-year onscreen career portraying funny, giddy – and killer – bombs that ooze glamor.
Now, Tilly returns to one of her most vampire characters: Tiffany Valentine, Chucky’s psychotic and babydoll ex-girlfriend. For a while, 63-year-old Tilly had received offers for parts that she just didn’t care about (she considers herself “semi-retired”). But when her best friend and “Child’s Play” creator Don Mancini called and said he was making a TV series based on the horror comedy franchise, she couldn’t help but be intrigued.
“I thought my acting days were behind me, but I’ve been doing ‘Chucky’ from the very beginning,” she says.
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A joint project for SyFy and USA, “Chucky” is a sequel to the franchise’s seven films so far – this time in the form of a teenage comedy-drama with the familiar terror of a sentient murder doll. . And Tilly, who made her first appearance as the legendary Screaming Queen in “Bride of Chucky” in 1998 – before starring in three other “Chucky” films – at first thought her role in the TV series would be. than a cameo. Soon, however, Tiffany became a full-fledged role for the actor, who is used to being approached for grandma roles that she never landed because she isn’t. seen in this way. In a way, playing Tiffany in her push-up bra, tight clothes, and high heels allows her to defy Hollywood ageism.
“[Don] always writes Tiffany as hot and sexy and gives her all kinds of interesting things to do, not suited to her age, ”Tilly says. That’s what keeps her coming back to character whenever she thinks she might be done. “There’s a little bit of me that says, ‘How long can I play Tiffany?’ But then there’s the other part that doesn’t want to be left out, ”she laughs.
Even now Tilly feels the pressure to watch the vixen: “The fans are so enraged, and she’s such an iconic character that I was like, ‘I really want to look beautiful for Tiffany. If not for me, for Tiffany.’ Knowing that Tiffany would be ‘more bloodthirsty than ever’ – including a master of sex, murder and child bullying in the home stretch of the season – motivated Tilly to regain her pre-pandemic form. Plus, she was expecting Tiffany’s fabulous wardrobe: she even prepared a moodboard filled with photos and images of Marilyn Monroe from the 1994 movie “Natural Born Killers” for the client to give Tiffany a “Marilyn gone wild” look. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” Tilly jokes in her characteristic squeaky tone. “Tiffany is a little a little campy.
While the actor was hesitant to create the role when it was first introduced to him over 20 years ago – “I felt like a horror movie was something you did in the world. beginning or end of your career “-” Child’s Play “turned out to be not only an important moment in his career but also in terms of portrayal. It is too rare for Asian faces to star in American horror films , and Tilly, who is half Chinese, was one of the few actors to do so.
In her career, Tilly only auditioned for a specifically Asian role, and that was for “The Joy Luck Club”. “I am used to playing a lot of Italians, I have never already played anyone who was my ethnicity, ”she recalls. She found herself clinging to the advice her sister, actress Meg Tilly, had given her. “If we come to Hollywood and say we’re half Chinese, everyone will want to classify you,” she recalls. “They’re going to put you in the little drawer for people who are half Chinese and never open that drawer again.” Tilly, who has explored her Chinese heritage more than ever, enjoys representing the Asian community but ultimately hopes that ethnicity is not “the huge plot point.”
Prior to facing Tiffany, Tilly had already charmed Hollywood with her distinctive voice and comedic appeal. Born Jennifer Ellen Chan, Tilly began her acting career in the 1980s, but only got her decisive role after starring in Woody Allen’s 1994 dark comedy “Bullets Over Broadway”. “I had this idea that I was going to be the next Judi Dench or ‘a serious actor’,” she recalls.
While she was also recognized for her work in comedies like “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “House Arrest” and “Liar Liar,” Tilly’s most memorable characters cemented her status as a favorite of queer viewers: the talentless starlet Olive Neal in “Bullets on Broadway”; Violet, the girlfriend of a mobster who ends up having a secret affair with Gina Gershon’s Corky in the neo-noir lesbian thriller “Bound”; and, of course, Tiffany.
It’s a coat she proudly wears: “My ex-husband once said, ‘If there’s a Mount Rushmore of gay icons, who would be on it? You, ”she said. “I know the drag queens dressed up as Tiffany from the Chucky movies and also as Violet from ‘Bound’.”
That status was only amplified by the fact that Tilly is a huge fan of “The Real Housewives” and best friends with current “Beverly Hills” actor Sutton Stracke. (Yes, she is 100% Team Sutton.)
“Sutton was born for this,” Tilly says. “She’s such a glamorous girl, she’s really, really rich and she tastes amazing. Her house is so beautiful that she has, like, Andy Warhols. We’re unlikely to see Tilly holding an oversized diamond anytime soon, however: “My house isn’t ‘housewives’ style.” But that won’t stop him from making an appearance or two on the show in the future.
At the moment, she has enough things to focus on with Tiffany’s television debut and her second career as a professional poker player, which began when she met her professional poker player boyfriend Phil Laak. in the early. She has since become obsessed with the game: “Do you know how there is a great chess master? I wanted to be a great master of poker. Tilly began to channel his passion into poker when the job started to dry up. “When they write a good role for an older person, there are about five people in Hollywood who understand them. Dame Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, ”she said before stopping.
Tilly no longer wants to be “a big movie star” as she once did. She wants to win more poker tournaments, and she’s thinking of writing a biography or “a great American novel”. But she no longer feels obligated to leave a final legacy behind, and contentment, whatever that means, will continue to be on her terms.
“Once I’m gone,” she said, “I’m gone. “
Or: Syfy and USA
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Evaluation: TV-MA (may not be suitable for children under 17)