I’ve interviewed quite a few ladies for Women in Horror Month, but it’s truly an honor to interview an icon from the Child’s Play franchise, Christine Elise McCarthy.
Christine is best known for her role as Kyle in Child’s Play 2, but has quite the career in both film and television. She’s also not afraid to speak openly about things she believes in, and her passion is truly inspiring. Take a deeper look inside her world with us… you definitely won’t be disappointed.
PopHorror – Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Christine! You’ve been in the filmmaking industry for a long time. At what age did you know you had a passion for acting?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Born in Boston, I initially went to Boston University as a film major with the intention of becoming a director. After a year there, it seemed inefficient to finish film school in a town with no film industry, so I moved to Los Angeles.
Nineteen and on my own, I soon found myself working 60 hour weeks at $6 hr just to pay the rent, and film school became an apparition on a horizon I could never reach. After two and a half years of this, I decided to take acting classes at night – still as a part of preparing myself to direct.
Typically cripplingly shy, I was surprised to find I really enjoyed it – acting, that is. I thought, “Actors that are talentless and untrained make a living every day. Why can’t I be one of them?” So, I adjusted my goals and pursued acting. I had early success, primarily because I was in my early twenties and looked fifteen. I was told, in 1986 or 1987, that I was too edgy for TV, but that I would do well in film. That was what I wanted, anyway, so I was pleased to hear that. Then, I went on to have a very mainstream TV career and far smaller film career. Which is great, too.
PopHorror – Yes, it is! What was the first film you were involved in and was it a good experience?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I think it was a film called Defenseless with Barbara Hershey. And yes, it was a good experience. ALL work is a good experience. I have only one exception to that. I did an episode of a certain TV show that shall remain unnamed. It was a nightmare for a fuckton of reasons I will not go into but – on a positive note – they had the most OUTRAGEOUS craft services on that set that I have ever seen. That was the only good part of doing that episode of that show. I mean, it was like a grocery store with bushels of fruit and banks of flavored coffee urns and passed appetizers and meals every two hours, it seemed. They worked long hours on that show, so I assume the food was to placate an exhausted team, but that food sitch was crazy.
PopHorror – (laughs) You’ve just made me hungry! One of the roles you’re know best for is playing Kyle in Child’s Play 2. How did that role come about?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I have never been in the position to pick and choose projects. I have always just been a working actor that accepts nearly every audition and takes every job offered. For CP2, I auditioned twice and got the job. No mystery. But, it was my first big job and I was outrageously excited to land it. I had not seen the first one until I got the second one. Remember – this was 1989 or so. I was poor. There was no internet. Not all films were readily available to watch by clicking a few links. You had to own a VCR and have a video rental membership and a car to go to the store – and then hope the movie you wanted was even ON VHS – and then hope someone else did not already have it out on some week-long rental. It was a very different time in the world of media.
Lots of Chucky fans think they can just ask and be cast in a Chucky movie. When asked, “How do I get in a Chucky movie?” I once heard Don Mancini reply, “Well, first of all, become an actor.” There was a longer response, but the answer to how one gets ANY acting job is: move to LA, take classes, get an agent, start auditioning and cross your fingers. You do not just get invited into projects because you are a fan. Being an actor is VERY HARD, primarily because it is nearly impossible to make a living. You get told, “No!” and that you suck ALL THE TIME. You get called too old or too fat or too short or not attractive enough – all the time. And with social media, strangers can attack you with anonymity. And NOBODY is spared attacks. EVERY actor gets attacked. Here is a recent exchange I endured:
That said, I have been very fortunate and got hired to do some great projects, and I have done work that I am proud of and made great friends, but that is not to say that I have my own dream career. I would prefer to have a huge body of work with range, power and longevity. I wish I had Oscar level titles on my resume. I do not, and that has nothing to do with my own tastes or ambitions. It also does not mean that I am not delighted to have the credits I do have.
PopHorror – I’m terribly sorry that you have to deal with that kind of harassment and bullshit attacks. I’ve had it happen to me as well, and it never feels good. I’m glad you’re proud of you career because the credits you do have are wonderful. What was it like to work with Don Mancini and Brad Dourif?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I only rehearsed dialogue with Brad, but I was a huge fan of his, so I was completely starstruck. I have since gotten to know him a bit through conventions and press tours, etc. I love him.
Don and I became friends immediately and sorta stayed friends since then. The Child’s Play franchise is literally and figuratively quite a family. Catherine Hicks is married to Kevin Yagher. I know Catherine and Kevin in real life, because I am close to Kevin’s real-life brother, Jeff Yagher, and his wife, Megan Gallagher, whom I know from China Beach. Fiona is Brad’s daughter. Alex [Vincent – read our interview with him here] is like a brother to me, far closer than Kyle and Andy were. Don’s two best friends are Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif. I have known Jennifer since before I did CP2. Brad is Chucky’s soul and Don is the father of all of it. I love them all.
PopHorror – One big family. I love it! Did you enjoy playing Kyle and could you relate to her at all?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Of course and of course. I made a long career of playing off-beat, misunderstood tough girls with a heart of gold. I think that describes me rather well, too.
PopHorror – I couldn’t agree more. You got to reprise that role in Cult of Chucky. What was that experience like after so long?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Fantastic! Even though it was two lines – which I delivered at 3am in a Winnipeg winter at 40 below zero. Literally 40 below. But, I was wearing the same hat – literally – that Kyle wore. It is MY hat, a hat I bought before I became an actress. Don was excited to use it and not many actors get to revisit a character 30 years later. It was great.
PopHorror – I had heard it was super cold. I love that you wore that hat – it was a special moment seeing that! Child’s Play is a beloved franchise and still has a loyal following. How does it feel to be a part of such great franchise?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Amazing! Sometimes, I take it for granted, meaning, it just IS. It is my life – my story – that job and Chucky. Like being the child of a rock star or something. It is your normal. You have no grasp of what it looks like from the outside. And then sometimes, I get hit with the enormity of Chucky’s iconic status, and I feel humbled and lucky. That is true about my career overall, too. At conventions, actors I admire treat me like a peer. It is flattering and I feel like I belong to the coolest “club” on earth – a club of creators, of artists. I am very grateful.
PopHorror – I already know how you feel about the upcoming remake, but what are your thoughts on the new Child’s Play television series?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I could not be more excited. The idea that it took 30 years to do 7 films, and that Don might get to tell 8-10 hours of story in as many weeks, is incredible. Just think of how much content that covers. And Cult is my favorite film of the franchise. I loved the sorta “big bang” that happened, creating a totally new Chucky universe. There are SO MANY ways to go now and Don has said Alex and I will be involved, which gives me butterflies. I am VERY excited to get back into it and see what Kyle and Andy get up to.
PopHorror – Same here! Beyond the Child’s Play films, what has been your favorite role or film thus far?
Christine Elise McCarthy – 90210 is huge for me because it was a phenomenon and my first taste of widespread recognition on the street. It also introduced me to Jason Priestley, a friend who remains in my life. His wife, Naomi, is one of my closest friends. His family is my family.
China Beach and ER were my favorite career experiences because the material was so well-written, the casts so talented and, more importantly for me, the material I was given was challenging and rewarding. I feel I have done some of my very best work on those shows.
PopHorror – I love all those shows. One of my new favorite shows is Riverdale. You had mentioned awhile ago on your FB page that you tried out for the role of Jughead’s mom but, unfortunately, didn’t get it. I think you would have been perfect for the role in many ways.
I know your fans, including myself, would love to see you be a part of a film or TV series that’s geared toward horror or thriller based. Do you plan on trying out for more roles like that? Are there any ones you’re interested in now?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I plan on trying out for anything my agents can get me in the door on. Full stop. I do not get to pick and choose what I audition for. I am interested in auditioning – or accepting offers for *wink* – for ALL legitimate projects.
PopHorror – Nowadays, many actresses are trying their hand at directing. Is this something you’ve ever done or have thought about doing?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I directed a short film – and then wrote a novel based on it – called Bathing & the Single Girl. The book can be found here and the film can be seen here.
The short is a 10-minute comedy about the horrors of dating – and bathing with – younger men. The book is far funnier and far raunchier. And it is fiction, despite what folks think.
PopHorror – Oh, I definitely want to check out both! The indie horror community is growing every day and packed full of talented women. Would you ever consider starring in more indie horror films?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Again, I consider EVERY opportunity.
PopHorror – One of the other things I’ve seen that you’re passionate about is being vegan. When did that come about, and can you tell us your favorite thing to make?
Christine Elise McCarthy – I gave up meat for ethical/moral reasons in the mid-late eighties. In July 2012, I began a food blog called Delightful Delicious Delovely. There are hundreds of recipes there, but about 2 years ago, it just began to feel stagnant. In the years since beginning the blog, I gave up seafood and then eggs and dairy, meaning I had began eating plant-based. So, I decided to start a YouTube channel called Video Vegan. There are about 150 recipes there now – all vegan. The channel is geared toward meat-eaters looking to maybe cut back – or cut entirely – the meat in their diets. The recipes are mostly very easy and many would fool meat eaters into thinking they were made with meat.
I have no favorite dish to make – but the Asian and Indian dishes on the channel are pretty awesome.
PopHorror – I love trying new recipes, and I’m always looking to cut out meat, so I will be checking out the blog! Since it’s Women in Horror Month, who are some of the women that inspire you?
Christine Elise McCarthy – That is a tough question. I am very much a feminist, though I hate the label. I feel like I am “normal” and that folks who are not feminists are “sexist.” Like, I should not need to say I am “pro-women” or “pro-minority” or “pro LGTBQ.” I believe we were are all created equal and all deserve the same rights, protections, opportunities and pay. The labels belong on the folks who are on the wrong side of history. Sexist. Racist. Bigoted. Homophobic. Label those fuckers. But, it does not work that way yet. So, I am feminist, pro-LGBTQ, pro-minority.
But which women inspire me? Right now, Misty Copeland comes to mind. I think of her because she was told at 13 that being a ballerina would be impossible for her, because of stuff outside her control, like the size and shape of her skeleton. Seriously. Torso – wrong shape. Bust – wrong shape. Height – no good. And now she is the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater. If you do not know who she is – just Google her. She is spectacular and she fought against nay-saying douchebags and succeeded despite them. I LOVE THAT.
My good friend, Melanie Liburd, also comes to mind. She was a model and decided she wanted to act. Folks told her she should could not. Stupid reasons… too old or too late or models can’t act or whatever. She decided to pursue acting anyway. Last year, she was added as a series regular to This Is Us. So, fuck the haters.
I am also proud of all the “regular” women who ran for Congress last year. A silver lining to Trump’s gutting win was that it made a bunch of people who felt unqualified to run for office realize that you need not be a lifetime politician to be the right person for the job. An incredibly diverse throng of women ran for office for the first time and many of them won. That is inspiring.
And my friend Nikki Carvey of Road Dogs & Rescue (Instagram @Roadogs), she started as a one-woman dog rescue, saving primarily English Bulldogs and mange cases. I adopted 2 mangy pugs from her in 2008. I have adopted 3 more dogs from her since then and fostered about 15. She now has a huge network and she rescues everything from seniors to medical rescues – especially cleft puppies and hydrocephalic puppies – and even slaughterhouse survivors and meat trade rescues from South Korea and China. Because she is rescuing so many dogs that would otherwise be euthanized, there is a high fatality rate due to medical issues that cannot be resolved. Clefties and hydro pups are very fragile and Nikki absorbs a great deal of loss and grief. It is a supremely noble thing she does, and I respect her enormously for doing it.
The lines, “I would foster, but I cannot because I would want to keep them all,” or “…cannot because it is too hard,” are wildly common and – heads up – never say them to folks who work in rescue or who foster. Those people, Nikki and her network, including me, accept and experience that pain all the time, rather than let the dogs die in shelters. I cry every time one of my fosters leaves to their forever homes. Nikki cries every time a rescue dies at the vet, despite the best possible care trying to save them. Crying is part of the job, but it is far better to cry because a dog got a shot at life than because it did not. So, yeah, I admire Nikki and every woman in her network.
As to horror women, I have discovered by attending horror cons that, overwhelmingly, the ladies of horror are smart, funny, gritty, supportive, and delightful. I am VERY proud of my humble place in that community.
PopHorror – That was such an inspiring and thoughtful response. Thank you! I plan on checking out all those people and the amazing things they do. Do you have anything else you’d like to talk about? Any upcoming projects?
Christine Elise McCarthy – Yes – I also have photography for sale on everything from mugs to shirts to framed prints. And – of course – THE CHUCKY SERIES! Fingers crossed!