It’s been over 30 years since Christine Elise made her horror film debut as tough-as-nails foster sister Kyle in Child’s Play 2, but the fandom never stopped calling for her return to the franchise. There was something about her character’s bond with Andy Barclay, played by Alex Vincent, and their intense toy factory battle against Chucky, the supernaturally possessed killer doll, that struck a chord with fans. Following a brief cameo at the end of 2017’s Cult of Chucky, Elise is officially back as part of the SYFY series Chucky, which sees Kyle and Andy reunite to track and down and kill every Good Guys doll that’s been taken over by the soul of Lakeshore Strangler Charles Lee Ray.
On the heels of Elise’s highly-anticipated debut on the TV series, she chatted with us via Zoom about her real-life friendships with Vincent and Child’s Play creator Don Mancini, the warm welcome back she received from longtime Chucky fans, her biggest pet peeves when it comes to social media etiquette, and her passion for veganism (don’t worry, she’s not a preachy vegan). Elise also showed us one of her dogs named Hayden, which was much appreciated.
PopHorror: So last Tuesday’s episode was fun. We saw Andy and Kyle on their way to help Jake and friends, but Andy took off and left Kyle at a gas station. What are your thoughts on that scene?
Christine Elise: It was fun to do because Alex and I, our relationship in real life is very close to the one of these two characters, and has been for 30 years. It’s fun to do playful scenes with him. Well, it was playful until the last minute there when he left Kyle! I think Kyle would have preferred to have not been left, clearly. It’s sort of an odd choice to protect somebody who spent her whole life protecting him, but maybe it isn’t.
PopHorror: It seemed like a bit of a role switch. Just as Kyle wanted to protect Andy from Chucky as kids, as well as the pains of the foster care system, he now doesn’t want her to get hurt.
Christine Elise: Yes. I also think the show has been really good at having things happen that you don’t anticipate. I don’t think anybody would ever anticipate Andy dumping Kyle. Don [Mancini] has been really good at keeping people on their toes as far as not getting ahead of where the story is.
PopHorror: There’s been so much anticipation surrounding the show for the past year. Is it getting mostly positive feedback?
Christine Elise: One person gave me feedback, “I don’t like it when somebody has an agenda, and they force it down your throat,” clearly referencing the LGBTQ storyline. But there’s just bigots inevitably everywhere. That’s a complaint that I don’t need to absorb. Beyond that, it’s just, “Chucky’s hair is too neat.” Incredibly minor complaints. As a person that’s been getting feedback on this franchise for 30 years, that’s a miracle. The seven films, they’re all very different. Everybody has their most favorite and their least favorite. They think Don went off the rails here or there, or the evolution of the doll, or dropping certain characters from the main plot for a while. There’s a lot of really strong feelings out there. I have never done a project, except for maybe ER, that’s so universally accepted at face value and appreciated.
PopHorror: When it was revealed that you and Alex Vincent were returning as Kyle and Andy, it seemed fans were super excited. How did that feel to receive such a warm reception?
Christine Elise: If there was a vote taken by Chucky fans, Child’s Play 2 would probably win as the most popular film of the franchise. I think that is largely because of the dynamic between Andy and Kyle and the sort of childhood fantasy set of that factory in the second half of the film. Having two kids, a 17-year-old and a 6-year-old, fighting Chucky, I think was a novel concept. It pit kids against evil without any adult intervention. I anticipated that Kyle and Andy would come back to the warmth that they had, and Don Mancini’s known this all along. I think the only people who didn’t expect it to be as warm as it has been are the powers that be. The people who haven’t been in the trenches with it for 30 years maybe didn’t fully appreciate how loyal horror fans are to the franchise. Horror fans are loyal in general to whichever franchise they’re fetishizing.
PopHorror: You’ve been doing horror conventions over the years. What’s it like meeting diehard Chucky fans?
Christine Elise: It’s great! It’s not like breaking rocks in the hot sun to sit at a table in a convention hall and have people walk up to you and tell you how great you are and how much you impacted their childhood, or multiple generations even. People who are big fans come with their kids, and now their kids are big fans. It’s great to interact with them. It’s fun for me, too, because Alex lives in Florida, and I live in Los Angeles. We’re only able to see each other while working or at conventions. He’s my brother from another mother, so it’s a great time to bond with him and other actors that I know and see at these things. There’s people that I’m a fan of and I walk around fangirling at people, too. It’s just a big, giant win-win-win-win. It’s awesome.
PopHorror: You and Alex haven’t shared a screen together since you were 24 and he was 7. Were you able to fall back naturally into your roles and onscreen bond?
Christine Elise: Absolutely. I think in real life, we’re closer than Andy and Kyle are without having to go through all that trauma. Both of us are a little more stable and certainly less traumatized, but very close. I talk to Alex almost every day, and I’ve known Don all the intervening years. So has Alex. Don is writing not just for characters he’s known for 30 years, but for actors he’s known for 30 years. That’s one of the advantages you’ll see when television shows run for a long time and writers start writing for the actor, not so much for the character as it was initially conceived. The strengths of the actor start to come into play in the writing, and I think Don had that going for him. Having been social with me and Alex in recent years, he could write easily for us and we could work together like no time has passed at all.
PopHorror: Did you expect Don Mancini to take your character of Kyle in this direction?
Christine Elise: I hoped he would. I’m really happy where she landed. That’s where I wanted her to be. I think that’s the most interesting, sort of badass place for a badass kid to land. I would be really disappointed if she became a suburban housewife. It’s a show about a supernaturally possessed killer doll, so you’ve got a lot of license as far as not being necessarily anchored entirely in reality. You can have characters like these two who are vigilantes out hunting Chuckys. You can do that because the envelope has looser edges.
PopHorror: Was Kyle your first acting role?
Christine Elise: I didn’t even try to start becoming an actress until I was in my early 20s, but it was not my first job. It was probably in the first five, certainly the biggest thing. I had a little part in a movie called Defenseless and a couple episodes on television in Head of the Class, a show called TV 101 that nobody saw. I had done some things, but it was certainly, by an enormous margin, the biggest thing I had gotten.
PopHorror: You’ve pursued acting since Child’s Play 2, appearing in 90210 as Emily Valentine and many other films and shows. Alex, on the other hand, chose not to. When you reunited for Chucky, were there any words of wisdom you shared with him?
Christine Elise: The biggest thing that I’ve had to advise him on is not absorbing negative commentary. In the beginning when I did 90210, there was no social media. There is now and people have incredible access to be cruel to you. A human nature thing is, you can read 1,000 comments telling you how great you are. One person says you look fat and old and you suck, and that’s the only one you’re gonna remember. I’ve been trying to warn him from going to YouTube and reading comments under the reaction videos because people are a lot more motivated to write things that are negative than they are positive. Yelp reviews tend to be skewed negatively because when you have a great experience, you don’t tend to go, “Oh my God, I can’t wait to go on Yelp and tell everybody.” But you do when you have a really bad experience. I think that’s true for negativity on every topic.
PopHorror: How do you handle the negative comments? I’ve seen you call out a couple of particularly insulting ones.
Christine Elise: It’s mostly anonymous! You’re reading anonymous remarks, and you always envision that the person making these remarks is somebody that you would admire or respect if you find out who they are. They almost never are. You’re like, “I can’t believe I let that 9-year-old boy in Wisconsin ruin my week.” But I can get persnickety. Sometimes someone will say, “I follow you on Instagram,” and my first question is, “Oh my God, have I been a bitch to you?” because I can be a little bit short with people. But so be it. I’m not heavy handed, and I don’t seek people out to be mean to. But I have a couple of pet peeves that drive me crazy.
PopHorror: Oh boy, what are they?
Christine Elise: People that write, “I’m first,” in the comment section on an Instagram post because they’re the first one. I hate that so much. I delete them right away. Also if you post anything with a year attached, like, “This is me and Alex in 1989,” and someone’s like, “I wasn’t even born yet lol.” Are you seriously laughing out loud because you weren’t born in ’89, or you think it’s news to me that everybody wasn’t born the same year I was? For some reason, I have a disproportionate rage to those two things. I clap back at them.
PopHorror: This sounds like something Kyle would do. Would you say there are similarities between you and your character?
Christine Elise: Yes. I’m an intuitive actor. There’s the ones that totally lose themselves in the role, and you can’t see them at all like Meryl Streep. Then there’s other ones like Jack Nicholson who is still Jack Nicholson in all these different types of situations. I’m more the Jack Nicholson type of actor. I’m no Jack Nicholson obviously, but I’m more that sort of actor. I try to find as much of me as I can in these characters because that’s the easiest way to bring them as fully to life as I can. It’s the lazy man’s way of doing it, I suppose. Inevitably, I’m going to infuse or imbue Kyle with as much of me as is fitting.
PopHorror: Aside from Chucky, I saw you have a vegan cooking channel on YouTube, Delightful Delicious Delovely. Can you tell me more about that?
Christine Elise: I gave up meat in the ’80s, and I started a blog, sort of a vegetarian/pescatarian blog, about eight years ago on a whim. I’m a photographer, too, and I like to cook, so I’d photograph these things for Facebook and Instagram. People would always be like, “I wish I knew how to make that. It looks so delicious.” So I thought I could kill two birds with one stone if I start a blog. I did that for a couple years, and it started to feel stagnant. On another whim, I woke up one day and was like, “You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna start a channel.” I didn’t have a mic or camera or anything. You could tell the quality of the first 12 of them or so is really subpar before I invested in a better mic and camera and taught myself some editing software.
PopHorror: What kinds of food do you make on the channel?
Christine Elise: It’s a vegan channel geared toward people who are not vegan. I don’t think there’s really much point in preaching to the choir. I’m not a preachy vegan, either. I don’t believe in that. I believe in leading by example and showing people that vegan food isn’t just twigs and berries. It’s not bland and not necessarily even healthy. But it’s for people who want to do meatless Mondays, or their kid came home from college and declared themselves a vegan, and their parents don’t know how to even begin feeding them. I have a friend who had a heart attack, and he’s a medically-induced vegan. There’s people who care about the planet and want to give up meat because of how bad the industry is for the planet. There’s a million reasons to cut back, and that’s what the channel is there for. Most of the recipes are easy. Not all of them, but most of them.
PopHorror: Fans of Chucky have so many theories about what’s going to happen. Is it hard for you to not give away spoilers?
Christine Elise: That’s not difficult at all. It gets frustrating when people keep asking for things, characters, actors, or storylines that haven’t been picked back up. We’re giving you so much. There’s so much awesomeness here and so much new, sparkly, exciting stuff. For the most part, Chucky fans have been patient and are embracing these new characters. They might not have. 90210 fans did not embrace the new show, disappointingly, because I thought it was great. I thought it was a dignified and hilarious way to bring that show back, but fans didn’t agree. Having had that experience, I was a little bit nervous that the Chucky fans would be like, “This isn’t what I thought. I want the OGs. I want it to pick up where Cult left off exactly.” And they haven’t. They’ve been open and embracing, and I’m super grateful.
PopHorror: Can you share anything on what fans can expect from the series finale on Tuesday?
Christine Elise: It’s un-anticipatable. There’s some stuff that’s gonna happen that no one has even begun to suspect. It’s so good, I don’t even want to tip it at all. A lot is going to happen. It’s been escalating every week. It took a couple weeks to meet the kids, meet the parents, get that ball rolling, get those kids on board so even they know what’s going on as far as Chucky is concerned. Once that was established and Jennifer [Tilly] and Fiona [Dourif] came in, the shit really hit the fan. I think, every week something wild and unanticipated happens. It’s not gonna stop. Episode 8’s gonna be great.
PopHorror: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want the fandom to know?
Christine Elise: Don is finally getting the accolades and the full Chucky love that he’s earned for 33 years. I’m happy for Don.