As anticipation continues to grow for the release of Child’s Play (21 June), Canadian actor David Lewis joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about his childhood connection to the horror genre and his ‘surreal’ experience working with the Chucky doll.
Q: You play Shane in Lars Klevberg’s ‘Child’s Play’. Can you tell us about the character and how he fits into this remake of a slasher classic?
A: Shane is the boyfriend to single mom Karen (played by the lovely Aubrey Plaza). He’s just a guy that likes to date. While I wouldn’t say he’s a jerk, I’m not sure I’d let him date my daughter…mostly because she’s 13 but also because he probably has his own best interests in mind most of the time.
He’s a complicated character with multiple sides, which is true of most people in life.
Q: You are somewhat tied to the horror genre by a revelatory childhood experience of watching ‘Jaws’. Can you share that story with us and talk about your connection to the genre?
A: My parents, like most people, loved movies and TV so I grew up watching everything. Classic detective yarns, westerns, slapstick comedies. I ate it all up. Then one night I found my VERY young self in the backseat of my parents car (No seatbelt. It was crazy times back then!) and on my way to the drive-in to watch a movie called Jaws, which I knew nothing about.
Needless to say, after the beautiful blonde was pulled under in the first few minutes, I seem to remember cowering in my mothers lap but still unable to look away from this incredible movie. My dad found all of this hilarious. (He was also the guy who pulled me out of school to go see The Shining, which also scared the sh*t out of me.)
But nothing ever had an effect on me like Jaws. I was terrified to go swimming anywhere where I couldn’t see the bottom. Lakes included. Even though my parents tried to explain the difference between salt and fresh water, my adolescent brain was having none of it and it definitely still holds a part of me hostage around deep water.
Way to ruin part of my childhood Spielberg! Also, it is one of my top ten movies that I will always stop what I’m doing to watch if it’s on TV.
Q: If they ever created a ‘Jaws’ remake, what character would you like to play?
A: Well, first off there is no way in hell I’m going anywhere near this classic movie. You’re just asking for ridicule, scorn and random people approaching you wondering why you tried to destroy your career. I’m quite happy with loving the original and never seeing it tampered with. But also I guess Matt Hooper- if I had to.
Q: There is something about Scandinavian directors that makes them perfect for horror films and dark thrillers. What was it like working with Lars? What was his vision for the film?
A: I loved my time with Lars. He’s got this childlike sense of mischief about himself that I really liked. He was open to the actors playing and trying new stuff every take, which is great for finding unexpected bits of magic in a scene. The last thing you want is a “nice scene”.
As far as his vision, I can’t really speak to that but I know he wanted his audience to laugh, be scared and walk out of the theatre having had an experience… and hoping no one says that we made a “nice movie”.
Q: The doll (voiced by Mark Hamill) in this film looks even creepier than its predecessors. What were your interaction like with it?
A: Working with the Chucky doll was very surreal. First off he’s a redhead. So that obviously freaked me out big time – like looking in a mirror. Also, I would turn around and he would be standing on a counter or sitting on a chair and I would have a total jump scare almost every single time.
But from a technical point, it was fascinating watching the puppeteers work with him. They did a great job bringing all his mannerisms to life… and scaring me.
Q: As well as Hamill, the cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Tim Matheson and a number of talented child actors. Is there room for fun on set when making a slasher film like this?
A: A slasher set definitely needs moments of levity to balance the bloodshed! But because my days were spread out all over the calendar, it was tough for me to connect with much
of the cast. But from what I did see the amazingly talented Gabriel Bateman, who plays our lead Andy, was doing his best to scare Aubrey Plaza and possibly give her a small heart attack. And he was doing a bang up job. Kids are cruel!
Q: I hear you are a big golf fan. Is that how you unwind away from acting?
A: Yesssssssssss!! I am a HUGE golfer. I’m certainly not turning pro any time soon but it is very rare when I turn down a chance to play 18. I’m actually quite obsessed with golf. I think in the past my girlfriends would find it cute at first when I would tell them that, and then I would be cancelling dates because a buddy lined up a game and they wouldn’t find it quite as cute.
Luckily I’ve tempered that somewhat and only occasionally stretch the truth with my lovely girlfriend Laura when I tell her I’m helping out at an orphanage when I’m actually at a driving range working on my short game. Please don’t tell her I said that.
Q: Your IMDb looks very busy at the moment. What else have you got lined up for this year?
A: I’m just auditioning and trying to line up my next job. Such is the unpredictable gypsy life of the actor.
I’ve got some work lined up over the next few weeks. Shooting a fun pilot in the vein of Hot Fuzz. A couple of short films with some talented young directors in their fourth year of film school. I love working with young directors! They are the future and I think veteran actors should 100% give back to help the next generation of filmmakers find their way.
And creating an interesting project with my girlfriend and producing partner Laura Adkin based loosely on parts of my ridiculous life.
Title photo by Kristine Cofsky