Brian Tyree Henry Interview: Child's Play

In the new Child’s Play, Brian Tyree Henry takes on the role of Detective Mike Norris, the cop who helps Andy and his mother deal with the out of control Chucky doll. Screen Rant sat down with Henry to discuss his role in the film and talk about wanting to root for Chucky, the original movie ruining My Buddy, and wanting to make his character a bit more charismatic than the original.

Brian, you and I are roughly the same age, and we were both kids when the original Child’s Play came out. It’s no secret that you’re a fan. So what drew you to this version of the project?

Brian Tyree Henry: The story, actually. The story of it is so different and so upgraded, in a way. Because it’s really reflecting the times we live in. This came out in ’88, and I remember I the 80s, there was a doll called My Buddy. Remember My Buddy? And Kid Sister. You’d have these interactive dolls. Everyone wanted one, remember that? Parents were fighting in the stores, you would see it on the news. It was all about consumerism. And so Child’s Play drops down, and all these dolls are in the trash now. Like, woah, that commentary. That’s why I like horror movies, because they are a commentary about society and the world we live in.

With this one, I thought I it was really cool because at the end of the day, he is supposed to be your best friend. And he is literally doing that, like he programmed to be that. But also he has access to the Cloud, because that’s the age we’re in right now. Artificial intelligence is real, it’s here, there’s nothing we can do about it. But it’s also like… What if it knows you better than you know yourself? And can actually think and learn and feel stuff? And that to me is scarier.

Because we’re getting there.

Brian Tyree Henry: It’s already there. It’s really remarkable, this story, because you kind of root for Chucky in this one.

Because he’s so sympathetic.

Brian Tyree Henry: You really care about him. You really, really care. And the reason he is the way he is? Is because we kind of made him that way.

Gabriel Bateman and Brian Tyree Henry in Child's Play 2019

And he has this childlike innocence, even when he’s interacting, which makes you sympathize and humanizes Chucky even more.

Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah, and that’s terrifying. It’s terrifying that we do that with these things that we purchase. Like consumerism, the things we consume can sometimes consume us, and that is really scary. But at the end of the day, his one job is to be your best friend. And he’s going to do it by any means necessary, you better believe it.

So you play Detective Mike. Tell me a little bit about Detective Mike.

Brian Tyree Henry: Detective Mike is just that dude, you know? I really wanted to have him be lovable and charming and charismatic instead of being [hard]. Because the environment that Andy lives in reflects what Mike grew up in. Single mother home, same as me. Not a lot of friends, either.

And I think that’s also something that’s great about this version of Child’s Play, because it really is talking about friendship. Like, actual friendship between people. You friend friends in the unlikeliest of places, and that’s what I love about it. Because you kind of realize that friends should know you better than you know yourself. Except that now our technology knows us better than we know ourselves, but it won’t hold us at night. It won’t say, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” Or it will, but it won’t mean it. I think that’s what’s really cool about Mike, because I think that he really sees these things, and sees potential in Andy and wants him to be great. Because I was Andy at some point, you know?

This year you’re facing off against two iconic villain – or coming face to face with two iconic villains –one being Chucky, the other being the Joker. Who’s more unnerving for you?

Brian Tyree Henry: (laughs) I would have to say the Joker. Because at least in this one, Chucky’s actually sympathetic, and actually cares. Joker’s just insane.

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Key Release Dates
  • Child's Play (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019
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