Interview: David Lewis Is Not The Jerk From CHILD’S PLAY
So yeah, David Lewis is incredible. Completely the opposite of the jerk he plays in Child’s Play—a jerk which he embodies quite well, as many who have seen the film continue to state. We chatted with Mr. Lewis about the memorable scene that left him bruised for a few weeks. Then, we discuss how the bruises never registered in his brain during the scene, especially once the adrenaline for acting and the love for the original Child’s Play kicked in.
Child’s Play will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 24th, 2019!
Read below to find out more about this Vancouver native with international appeal.
Dread Central: I know that you have a diverse background. I’m curious. How do you pick your roles?
David Lewis: At this point in my career, I like to work on things that interest me or pull me out of the box. With that being said, I have children and I have a mortgage. So, there are times when it is just like, “I gotta go out there and pay the bills like everybody else.” But when I do have choices, I try to find stuff that’s going to be interesting, as opposed to just propelling the story along.
DC: I read in an article that you watched Jaws as a child, and it did something for you. What was it about that film that made you want to start acting?
DL: First of all, it scared the hell out of me. I’m sure it did with a lot of people. There’s just something about the unknown and not being able to see what’s below you in the water. How the mind can imagine and take you to all these crazy places. I couldn’t watch the movie for a while after I saw it the first time as a kid. Then, as I hit my teens, I ended up watching it with my dad. He was a big fan of the movie. The more I watched it, the less it was about being terrifying—and more about seeing how these people told the story. How these characters were so interesting. Because you really didn’t see the shark until almost halfway through the movie. And it was just these characters that had come to life. They were so interesting. That kind of grabbed me. I thought that was a really incredible thing that the actors could do. The film was like a thriller or a monster movie. But we don’t see the monster for half the movie. But the first half is funny and frightening and jolting. So yeah, there’s just a lot of colors in that movie that affected me.
By the time I hit high school, I got into drama and that sort of got me onto my path.
DC: So, how do you feel about beaches now?
DL: Well, I’m a redhead, so I don’t spend a lot of time at the beach. If I do, it’s in the shade. My best friend is a beach umbrella. But going out with friends on their boats, I will definitely dive out in the water. Still, I’m always thinking, “What’s down there?” There’s absolutely no swimming at night.
DC: How did you prepare for your role in Child’s Play? How did you become Shane?
DL: Well, I think the danger with a role like this is just to think of him as one-dimensional, like he’s just this jerk using this woman, and he doesn’t like the kid. He’s going to get his because it’s just the type of movie that it is. But he is a human being. And he has a life that we end up finding out about in the movie. He has another life, people that he cares about. He’s not just evil incarnate. He’s not a sociopath. He’s just kind of a selfish person at times. I think whenever you are portraying these types of characters, even if you are the bad guy in a movie, you still have to find the humanity. People still have feelings. They still have had their hearts broken. They’ve felt hurt in their lives, which has gotten them to this place. Every villain thinks their the hero of their story, right?
So, I think it is important to try to find the humanity in these people, who a lot of times are broken. You get to see more of the dark side of their lives. It’s important that you get to see both sides.
DC: Definitely. Spoiler alert! But once I did see that with Shane’s character, that he did have a life and a different side of him, I felt bad for him in his final moments.
DL: Yeah. My teenage son went with five of his friends to go see the movie. When there was the reveal, when he pulls up to the house, they were all shaken by it. But when Shane got his, they were hurt, partly because they know me. But, it’s pretty interesting. My son and his buddies, they’re all young. They just want to see carnage, right? So when this happened, there was a sense of empathy.
DC: Do you have a favorite scene?
DL: The scene that was the toughest for me was in the backyard of my house at night time. We shot this movie in Vancouver. It was November. Pretty cold. No snow on the ground, but still cold. It’s the pacific northwest, so it was pretty damp. And I spent two nights, starting from about 6 PM and going until about 5 AM, pretty much 80% on the ground, crawling through the dirt, the mud, and the cold. By the end of the second day, when we were wrapped with that location. People were coming up to me and cheering.
Yeah, I’m the actor. But I’m there to work. I have a pretty good work ethic. When they call me to set, I head to set. Let’s get to it. You want to get me on the ground? Let’s do it. The sooner we get this shot, the sooner we can all go home, I always feel. I don’t want to be too precious about the job. So, I was pretty proud of myself at the end of those two days. I actually stayed in a hotel because I knew we would be working late and I didn’t want to drive home. I woke up after my second day and felt that I had been in a car crash. There were so many bumps and bruises on my elbows, my wrists, and my knees that I didn’t feel the night before. I got home, took a shower, and went to sleep. I was exhausted. But the next day I woke up, the tips of my fingers were raw. Crawling through the dirt and the rocks, you don’t feel it in the moment because you have adrenaline going to get the job done. But the next day, I felt like, “Oh, this is what I’m going to feel like in my 80s. Great!”
DC: Wow! Well, you did an absolutely incredible job in that scene.
DL: It was fun and brutal as well. But yeah, I thought it was a good scene.
DC: Are you a fan of the original Child’s Play?
DL: Absolutely! I think when they got a little later into the franchise, they lost some of what was in the original. But you can say that about a lot of franchises. You could say that about Jaws. By the time they got to number four, it loses some of its originality, I guess.
But the first couple of Child’s Play’s were fantastic. I thought it was a great idea. The fact that you are working with a doll that’s a child—that kind of becomes your best friend at times. It’s your confidant and your pal to play with. And to have this thing turn on you, I thought it was very subversive. So, I thought that was really clever. I liked it a lot.
We paid homage to the original, but ours is still different. It’s in different universes. I thought that ours really came with a lot of love and care for this character. I thought that Mark Hamilton did an amazing job as the voice of Chucky. He had true passion for this doll. He was AI, so he was learning to feel. And the relationship he had with the actor Gabriel was really quite touching. I read that in the script, but actually seeing it on screen I thought, “Man, they really pulled this off.” I was really impressed by that.
DC: You guys really knew how to tug at our heartstrings with this one.
DL: Yeah. I think the writers were really cognizant of that. Yes, he’s the doll that is going to go bad and kill everybody because he is really angry and evil. It’s like, “No, this doll is trying to protect this boy.” This doll is realizing that he doesn’t want to be alone. And then the boy is being taken away from him. So, everything that he’s trying to do is for self-preservation.
DC: What was it like working with Aubrey Plaza?
DL: She’s great. I said this before. My kids and I are big fans of Parks and Recreation. But you know, I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years. My kids don’t really get too excited about what I do. Sometimes they see Dad on TV; sometimes they don’t. But when they knew that I was going to be working with Aubrey Plaza, they were like, “Whoa whoa! Wait, what?” They were way more interested in the fact that I’m working with Aubrey—than in the fact that I’m working on Child’s Play.
But it was great. You never know the actor that you are going to get. Working in Vancouver, we are kind of the hired guns. We’re number four, five, six, eight, ten on the call sheet. So we’re a little further down the line. And we are there to help the story move along. So, you never know who’s going to show up from Hollywood or elsewhere. And then, when someone shows up and is ready to work, and is so engaging and engaged, and just wants to make the best thing possible, it’s great. It’s like, “What do you want? Do you want to try this or that?” She was up for trying different things. It was a real give and take of ideas. I know it says something different in the script, but let’s just try this and see what happens. It is really impressive when actors come to work and are okay with messing up. It’s not, “Oh, I have to look good in this scene.” If things get ugly, then we’ll figure it out.
DC: Outside of Jaws, do you have any other favorite movies?
DL: I’m kind of a kid of the 80s, so lots of those movies from back then. With that being said, my parents took me to drive-in movie theaters a lot. I just introduced my son to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and he loved it. Steven Spielberg. You can’t go wrong with him. He’s going to keep you in your seat the whole time. Then there is the Terminator franchise. The first two came out around that time.
I like Raiders. Anything with Harrison Ford, I’m a big fan. Of course, Star Wars and all of that stuff. I like action and adventure. There’s certain movies that I can just turn on. Or if they are on TV, I can just leave them on. Then, I’ll watch it until it’s time to leave the house.
The Godfather. Chinatown. There’s just so many great movies. Pulp Fiction. We just watched that the other night. We’re on a big Tarantino run right now, my son and I.
DC: Do you see your son following in your footsteps?
DL: He’s actually done about 25 commercials. He did a ton when he was a toddler. He was very funny and fearless and thought he was the shit. I had to temper that a little bit. It’s great to feel that way, but we don’t have to tell everybody that. Just go and have fun and have confidence. That’s what they’re looking for. You’re going to be working with young kids and adults, and you want them to be confident. You don’t want shy kids. You want them to portray all of these characters. You want them to have fun and everything.
But he definitely has the acting bug. He takes drama in high school. However, I think he might be flying more towards directing. He’s really interested in all of that. He likes to talk about shots that we look at on the screen, or how the camera is moving, or how the story is being told with lighting. He was really impressed by the lighting in Child’s Play, how it changed from red to blue depending on what was happening in the scene.
DC: To date, what’s your most challenging role?
DL: I worked on a show called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which was a show for Netflix a couple of years ago with Elijah Wood. It’s a crazy show. There’s time travel. There’re clones. All sorts of things are happening. And I had a real unique character: an FBI agent that gets kidnapped. Then, they end up dropping another person’s personality and soul into his body. Physically and mentally, it was a real challenge. It was pretty difficult, but it is some of the best work I have ever done.
Another show that I worked on was Unspeakable. I worked on that last year. It was the AIDS crisis that happened in Canada, back in the 80s.
DC: And lastly, what can we expect from you next?
DL: I just did a run on Get Shorty, the series with Ray Romano. And if that gets picked up for another season, I will be back on that. I worked on pilot called Surveillance. We are waiting to hear if that gets picked up. There are a lot of projects that I can’t talk about just yet. But also, my girlfriend and I, who is also my writing partner, are working on a few projects as well. I’ve been writing with her, and we’re putting some pitch packages together.
DC: That’s awesome!
Thank you so much for allowing us to pick your brain. We look forward to your upcoming projects.
DL: Thank you.