To enable the puppeteers to produce Chucky and Tiffanys realistic facial expressions, each doll can be fitted with one of three or, in Tiffanys case, four different servo-implanted animatronic heads. Chucky can be fitted with one of two neutral-expression heads or a screaming-expression head, and Tiffany with one of three neutral heads (one for the Bride doll, one for mean Tiffany and one for burnt Tiffany) as well as a screaming head for the more volatile moments in the femme fatales life. Each of these heads are capable of dozens of expressions ranging from a cute smile to wistful sadness to extreme anger.
Bringing Chucky and Tiffany to life is a considerable undertaking which requires 16 people: seven puppeteers to manipulate each doll, a computer playback operator, and a puppet coordinator to act as liaison between the operators and the director. "Chucky and Tiffany are a little bit like Elvis in that they have a really enormous posse," offers executive producer Corey Sienega.
Three puppeteers are required to handle the movement of each dolls facial features which are relayed through the use of a radio-controlled transmitter: one puppeteer articulates the mouth, one the brows, and one the eyes. The puppeteer working the dolls mouth is also required to wear a head gear mechanism which, when the puppeteer moves his mouth, activates servos which move the dolls jaw. Explains Brock Winkless, the man behind the mouth of Chucky, "The voices of Chucky and Tiffany were pre-recorded by Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly before filming began. Their dialogue is played back and live mouth movements are then recorded by an animation playback system which can play back the dolls mouth movements on camera exactly the same way each and every take."
All of the dolls other below-the-head movements are cable-operated by the rest of the puppeteers who sit in a crawlspace below the raised stage watching the action by way of monitors. They control Chucky and Tiffanys movements with the use of three-axis cable controllers which are connected to a length of approximately 12 feet of cable which in turns operates their heads, torsos, right and left arms and hands. To walk the puppets, a feat of coordination which requires precision and concentration on the part of the puppeteers, the dolls body is connected to a boom arm and then attached to a walking rig or camera dolly. The seven puppeteers then follow behind, working as a single well-oiled machine operating moving the legs, arms and head.
"To give a believable performance, coordination is essential," stresses Yagher. "We had to become two, seven person teams with each team learning to think with one mind in order to create characters that performed in synchronization."
Comments director Ronny Yu, "Working with puppets and the many people needed to control them is much more difficult than directing the most temperamental actor. Organization and communication are key because with 14 or 15 people to coordinate 14 or 15 things that can go wrong at any given moment."