Growing up as the daughter of makeup effect designer Tony Gardner (Hocus Pocus, Hocus Pocus 2, Addams Family Values, Studio 666, Seed of Chucky, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky), a certain foul-mouthed killer doll was a constant presence in director Kyra Gardner’s life, almost like a sibling, a family tie she explores in her new documentary Living With Chucky, and in our recent conversation, she tells us that every day was truly like Halloween living with her dad.
“Weird, random oddities coming home from work with my dad lot of the times,” she told us during a Zoom chat last week. “He got less shy about bringing work home the older I got. So occasionally without warning I’d have just come home from high school, and there’s a dead body in the foyer. I’m like, ‘Okay, I don’t know what movie this is for, but get it, Dad.’
“Halloween itself is like religion in my family. We have a Halloween tree. Very Addams Family. We decorate it together. There’s like snakes and skeletons at the bottom. Lots of Tim Burton stuff. Chucky is always represented in the decor. He and Tiffany sit at our family’s formal dinning room table, and on the table is eyeballs and fingers and things like that, and then on a silver platter in the middle is my dad’s decapitated head.”
In addition to providing the first complete retrospective of the original Child’s Play film franchise, with new interviews with all of the principal cast and creators, Kyra’s documentary also features a more intimate portrait of her relationship with her dad, his relationship to Chucky and to the movie business, and Tony Gardner is very candid about the fact that working on many of the most iconic films of recent decades kept him away from his family and much of his daughter’s childhood.
When asked if any of her dad’s honesty about the demands of the business surprised her, Kyra told us, “I knew we were going to have the conversation about him being gone from home for a bit, because that was the original focus when I did the short film, asking more of the personal questions and the focus family, so obviously you have to talk about being away from family. I was surprised – especially that moment where we’re in his SFX shop, and at the time I was making a mini Chucky for the end credits of my short film, so that’s what we’re doing – when he was just like, ‘It sucks.’ And just awkwardly laughs. I wasn’t expecting moments like that.
“Maybe he was thinking, ‘Oh, this won’t make it into the film,’ but my filmmaker brain was like, ‘Oh yes it will.’ It was really like a moment of kind of stepping into adulthood with my dad, as well. My perspective was always being the kid and being bummed that my dad was away, but for once, we were having a conversation as an adult to an adult, like, ‘How was this for you as a parent?’ Because that must have been hard.
“Then you’re also balancing the line of the person being in the film industry now, and maybe that’s not a positive thing to say about your job, but it’s the truth, and we don’t talk about it enough.”
We also discussed more about celebrating Halloween, as well as the origin of the documentary and the legacy of the Child’s Play franchise, and we asked if Kyra will make a sequel to focus on the Chucky series.
You can watch our full exclusive video interview with Kyra Gardner below.
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