When I speak with Björgvin Arnarson to discuss the second season of SyFy and USA Network’s hit series Chucky, he embodies cool, confident energy. His greeting is friendly and his posture relaxed as we start our Zoom call, only the slightest flicker of surprise and confusion crossing his face when my dogs suddenly break into a cacophony of barking a moment later (a hazard of working from home).
Jump scares, even unintentional ones, don’t faze him.
“I guess the one thing [about] being on a horror show is that it kind of ‘ruins’ the scary factor in a sense,” he says when I ask what films scare him, given the Chucky franchise’s ability to frighten audiences for decades. “Things aren’t as scary to me anymore. Now it’s more I watch it [and] I’m like, ‘That’s super cool. How do they do that?’” That’s not to say that he never gets freaked out, though. “I still get scared most of the time, but usually it’s now more of the suspense of the whole thing in general, but not really the big jump scare.”
He shrugs. “Those I feel you’re like, ‘Eh.’ I want to feel scared throughout the whole movie, so I like films that make the vibe eerie the whole time.”
This could be why Jacob Breedon, the young actor who is a part of the team that brings the Chucky doll to life, has been so unsuccessful in his attempts to scare Björgvin.
“Jacob is wonderful to work with,” Björgvin starts with a small grin before he reveals the aforementioned actor spent time on the set of season two trying to scare the cast and crew. “I’m going to say here – he’s never got me. I don’t want to toot my own horn but he tried to and I just looked over and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on, Jacob?’” the actor says, chuckling. “I think it was funny, but he was able to scare some other people on set. I won’t say any of the other cast members, I don’t want to embarrass them. But yeah, some other cast members did get scared by Jacob.”
Other crew members that bring the Chucky doll to life include the puppeteers that work on set manipulating Chucky’s movements, facial expressions, and more.
“It’s really cool,” Björgvin says of watching them operate Chucky. “There’s a bunch of people working on every little part of that doll. For me, when I look at it, it’s not even really scary. It’s fascinating, seeing it all working to come together – seeing the puppeteers manually move it, seeing the people on the controllers moving the eyes, the mouth, and hearing the audio of the voice.” He explains that hearing the audio is particularly nice as it means the cast isn’t working off of silence. He adds, “Having it move around makes it easy to work with. It kind of feels like a person, so it wasn’t too hard to start working with the doll.”
Being back on the set for season two was like going back to your hometown you haven’t been to in a while, according to Björgvin. “You know everybody there, so you’re like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’” For him, he says the show had a more relaxed process this time around. “Everyone knows each other, everyone’s familiar with each other,” he explains, adding that there’s less awkwardness. “I feel like it flows smoother.”
The effortlessness with which the actor handles each question showcases the comfort he has with the series and his character Devon Evans. Stepping into those shoes for a second time came easier to him than it did originally for the actor.
Having it move around makes it easy to work with. It kind of feels like a person, so it wasn’t too hard to start working with the doll.
“When I booked [Chucky], I watched all the films. I was trying to get an idea of the vibe of it. The show is basically completely different, really, but also similar,” he begins to explain. “It feels more like second nature to get into it now than it was in season one. [In] season one, I didn’t really know how to get into the role, how to get into the vibe of everything. Now I can kind of get into it and then just try to get better at doing that, now that I know what to do.”
Devon in season two is still a slight departure from the high schooler first introduced to audiences at the start of the show. Once a podcaster reporting on local crime, Devon became embroiled in Chucky’s bloodthirst, losing his mom, classmates, and friend’s family members to the doll as well as being kidnapped and nearly killed himself. The trauma of the events of the first season lingers in Devon’s mind at the start of season two.
“Devon’s a bit more hardened, a bit more mature. After experiencing all that trauma, he is a bit [angrier] this season,” Björgvin says. He teases, “I think you’re going to enjoy the new Devon. He’s going to be a little bit more, you know, take things in his own hands and won’t take crap from nobody.” The actor laughs and one has to wonder just what situations Devon will find himself in this season.
“The events of season one – he wasn’t expecting all that to happen, especially his mom. So it’ll be interesting because he has some trauma behind him [and] now he’s with Lexy and Jake, having this unified hatred for Chucky. He takes it a bit more seriously.”
The impacts of season one affect more than just the character but also his relationships. “Devon wants to obviously reconnect with Jake and meet up, build a relationship up again. It kind of spirals into a whole new thing for Devon and it takes a toll on [him]. He doesn’t know how to react to this new idea.” Björgvin grins as he says that he can’t say a lot before adding, “Devon has to make a lot of tough choices.”
His excitement for season two is palpable in his voice, his grin growing as he says, “There’s a lot in season two that’s going to happen and I’m really excited for everyone to see it – especially the new setting that we’re going to be in.” The Catholic reform school presents its challenges, between the strict rules each character will have to follow, the budding relationship between Jake and Devon under the eyes of Catholicism, and their inability to escape Chucky. “It’s going to be really cool to see Chucky play around in that new playground of his and see our characters trying to find a way to fit into this new territory and work around their differences.”
He grins, the accompanying chuckle holding the weight of the spoilers that he doesn’t spill, when I ask how being under the eyes of Catholicism and its complicated relationship with the LGBTQ+ community will affect the exploration of Jake and Devon’s relationship. “That will play a part in the relationship going forward,” he simply states. “It was interesting to bring in another obstacle to the relationship using that.” He breaks, laughing quickly as he says, “Oh my god, I have to be so vague,” before referring back to his statement about it being an obstacle, hinting it will not be smooth sailing for the two.
The relationship between Jake and Devon is one that took social media by storm, with fans cheering for them with each new episode release. It’s hard to steal the spotlight from a horror icon like Chucky but the moment in season one when Jake and Devon reunite and kiss after Jake believes him dead did just that. That kiss shared in Jake’s old bedroom spread across social media, flooding the hashtag for the series.
“It’s kind of surreal because this is one of my first big roles and it’s an important role to play this character. Seeing all the support and reactions…” Björgvin says of the outpouring adoration, pausing a moment to collect his thoughts. “I feel honored to be able to play this character and do a job that people appreciate how I did it.”
The exploration of Jake and Devon’s relationship in season two, especially in a Catholic institution that essentially rejects them, is something close to Chucky creator Don Mancini’s heart. It is just one of his many ideas that have come to life in season two.
“Don is always talking about ideas. For season two, he was talking about ideas he had but some ideas never made it,” Björgvin says. “He’s a creative guy so I always like talking to him about his future endeavors and his plans. It’s always fun seeing it because I’m excited,” he says before laughing. “I’m always excited to see what he’s going to come up with because he’s pretty crazy.”
While some of Don’s ideas appear early in the season only to be changed later on, like keeping Barbara Alyn Woods’ character Mayor Michelle Cross alive instead of killing her off in the first season, others come to him at the very end. In an interview for season one with ScreenRant, Björgvin mentioned that near the end of shooting season one, Don wished he had given Björgvin more funny moments. I bring this interview up to the actor, asking if, despite the gloomy and sinister atmosphere of the second season, this was able to happen.
“Don, he capitalized on that more,” Björgvin confirms. “This time he added a bit more funny little scenes he wanted me to add in there. Little funny things I do. Devon has a bit more flair, a bit more comedic things in the season.”
Don’t be fooled, though, as the season will still be as killer as ever. With one video on YouTube calculating the kill count for season one to be 35, I couldn’t help but ask Björgvin if there was a death in season one that gutted him the most and if there was an equal or greater death in season two.
Devon’s a bit more hardened, a bit more mature. After experiencing all that trauma, he is a bit [angrier] this season.
He plays coy, grinning a bit to himself for a moment before answering. “I guess I [could] go with the copout,” he says, stating Devon’s mom dying as the one that got him the most in season one. “That’s a scene that’s crazy for Devon to experience.” However, he remains tight-lipped in regards to deaths in season two. “I mean, obviously people are going to die in season two. It’s Chucky! You’re going to have to watch it [to] see what happens.”
Though the first season had audiences saying goodbye to a few characters every week, both old and new to the Chucky franchise, the second season gives the serial killing doll, and audiences, a whole new group of characters to get to know. Most notably among this group is Glen/Glenda, the twins of Chucky and Tiffany, to be portrayed by Lachlan Watson.
When discussing adding new faces to the cast, Björgvin says, “It was cool because after season one everybody was talking about Glen/Glenda, like, ‘You know, they have to be in the show at some point!’ I was reading the scripts and seeing them appear, I was like, ‘Oh, okay. Don’s really going to do it. Don’s gonna add ‘em in.’” A small grin makes its way onto his face as he recalls the memory.
The prospect of these new characters, and therefore new actors, on the show is as exciting to Björgvin as it is to audiences.
“I always look forward to seeing new people. It’s sad, obviously, when someone dies in the show and then they’re gone. But then I want to see the new people who come on and see and experience some new, fresh faces. It’s fun to work with them.”
The introduction of Glen/Glenda in season two will ultimately put to rest any fan theories of where they could have been lurking throughout season one, the most notable one being that they are inhabiting Miss Fairchild. It’s a theory that sticks out to Björgvin and one he finds funny. “I was like, ‘That was an interesting theory,’” he remembers thinking when he first heard of it. “But I also don’t know because Glenda is super smart and evil,” he adds, pointing out the difference between the character’s clear bloodthirst like her parents in Seed of Chucky and Miss Fairchild’s clear lack of it in the series.
When I point out the other popular theory that the gloved hand on the tree watching over the kids at the cemetery could be Kyle’s, who was assumed dead at the end of season one despite no body being shown, Björgvin gives nothing away. “I saw that somewhere. That is also [a good one]. I think it’s Tiffany,” he shares. “I don’t know. That’s kind of her attire: extravagant wear. But Kyle is a good one. I don’t know.” He finishes his answer with a shrug, still refusing to give way.
I prod once more for spoilers, receiving a head shake and a small laugh from Björgvin at my attempts. “I can’t say anything,” he adds good-naturedly.
With that in mind, the next task falls onto Björgvin to tease any keywords about season two. He chuckles at that before he puts his hands to the sides of his head, saying, “Oh, I have no idea. I don’t know.” He huffs out a laugh. “I feel like if I say anything, [there’s] going to be a red dot on my forehead.” He ponders on the question for a few moments. “I could be really vague and say like… fireplace. That’s so vague, I don’t think you’ll know what it refers to.” There’s a proud grin on his face, having bested the question.
Switching gears to the last questions, I first ask him how the cast would stack up if they were in a horror movie. Amusement fills his voice as he speaks. “Okay, well, I have a joke that I don’t think I can say,” he says with a laugh. “I think that if the situation was that the cast of the show, just the kids, going to a haunted house, this is what will happen: Zack (Arthur) [and] Aly (Alyn Lind) would be like, ‘Okay, let’s go! Let’s go in there!’ And I’d be like, ‘Alright guys, I’ll see you guys later next week because I’m not going to go in that house. No thank you.”
He chuckles again, continuing. “I think I would survive because I won’t be in [it] in the first place. I’m thinking ahead here.”
Chucky joins the list of horror films like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Psycho which were turned into television shows and given a wider playground for the cast and crew to explore within that world. Some shows like Chucky have received great success while others fell flat. It prompts the question what other horror movie would Björgvin like to see being given a series, or a second chance at a series.
“Ooh,” Björgvin says, thinking on the question for a moment. “I saw the first Nightmare on Elm Street and I feel like that would make a pretty interesting show if you did something unique on it and made it like a psychological, weird show. Made Freddie Krueger more sinister, [and] brought him back to the first movie where he was [scarier]. That’d be interesting to make because he becomes more like a goofy guy, one-liner stuff,” he explains. “I feel it’d be interesting.”
The second season of Chucky premieres on SyFy and USA Network on Wednesday, October 5th at 9PM.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.