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Jennifer Tilly: Hollywood’s Killer Doll

5 min read

With well over a hundred roles in film and television, Jennifer Tilly has had an extremely lucrative acting career. Born Jennifer Ellen Chan on September 16, 1958, she would break into television in the early 80s, playing recurring roles in Shaping Up and Hill Street Blues before landing the role of nerdy Amy Hopkins in 1985’s MOVING VIOLATIONS.

During the decade of decadence, she would continue making guest appearances on various TV shows (e.g. Cheers, Stir Crazy, and Remington Steele), as well as supporting roles in several comedies, starring alongside the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Uma Thurman, Anthony Michael Hall, and Peter O’Toole. Some of her more notable genre appearances in this portion of her career included the Jeff Lieberman-helmed REMOTE CONTROL (1988).

This film features Kevin Dillon in the lead as Cosmo, a video store clerk who stumbles upon an alien invasion plot to brainwash humanity. The villainous weapon of choice? VHS copies of a bad 1950s sci-fi flick! To thwart this nefarious plan, Cosmo and his friends (including Jennifer Tilly as Allegra James) must stop the tapes from being distributed before it’s too late! Also released that same year was Neil Jordan’s HIGH SPIRITS!

This “spiritual” comedy features Peter O’Toole as the owner of a failing castle turned bed and breakfast, that decides to turn it into a haunted tourist attraction. Hijinks ensue as the hotel staff attempts to scare the guests, while real spirits begin to rise and do a little haunting of their own! Throughout the film, Tilly’s Miranda forms a romance with Peter Gallagher’s “Brother Tony,” and at one point, they are accosted by terrifying ghostly nuns!

Though she would continue to appear in films of varying quality across multiple genres throughout the 90s, including the (formerly) Wachowski siblings’ BOUND, a remake of THE GETAWAY, and most importantly, Woody Allen’s BULLETS OVER BROADWAY. Her role as Olive Neal in the film garnered her an Academy Award nomination, but sadly she lost out to her co-start Diane West!

Since then, Jennifer Tilly has continued to build herself an impressive filmography, starring in dozens of films and TV shows. Interestingly enough, she has become a rather prolific voice actress. Her distinctive voice has been lent to Celia from MONSTERS INC., Mrs. Stout in STUART LITTLE, the eternally pregnant Bonnie Swanson on Family Guy, and of course Tiffany in the long-running CHUCKY franchise.

Jennifer Tilly is all dolled-up before she gets dolled down.

After coming to a close in 1991 with CHILD’S PLAY 3, everyone thought that we had seen the last of Charles Lee Ray. Then in 1998, Horror fans got a huge surprise with the announcement, and eventual release of BRIDE OF CHUCKY. Jennifer Tilly portrays Tiffany Valentine, former girlfriend and accomplice of the infamous “Lakeshore Strangler.” Using voodoo magic, she resurrects her ex, who eventually returns the favor by trapping her soul within a doll’s body!

Featuring more comedy than horror, BRIDE OF CHUCKY received mixed reactions from fans and critics. However, it became the highest grossing film in the Chucky series, so it was no surprise that it generated a sequel. In 2004, SEED OF CHUCKY was released, taking place six years after Tiffany gave birth to Glen, a gender-confused child with split personality disorder.

In SEED, Glen brings his murderous parents back to life, and is abhorred by their violent tendencies. This leads to a funny rift between Tiffany and Chucky: She wants to set a good example for their son, but Chucky just can’t help himself: Murder is just too much fun! As the film progresses, Tiffany uses voodoo to impregnate actress Jennifer Tilly, then possesses her body to give birth to twins named Glen and Glenda! (A definite nod to a certain Edward D. Wood Jr. film!)

As the film reaches its final act, Chucky learns that the family that slays together, doesn’t necessarily stay together. Angry that Tiffany wants to leave him and take his son away, Chucky gives Tiffany the axe (literally). Enraged by this, Glen challenges Chucky to a duel and seemingly finishes off the (not-so) Good Guy Doll permanently. But you can’t keep a good villain down, as Chucky would return in 2013’s CURSE OF CHUCKY!

Jennifer Tilly also returned as Chucky’s pain in the neck girlfriend!

Chucky is mailed to the home of handicapped Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif!) and her mother Sarah, who incidentally betrayed Charles Lee Ray to the police in 1988. Nica survives the ensuing killing spree, but is framed for the murders and placed in a mental institution. Chucky is then held as evidence for the trial, but is freed by Tiffany, who is still occupying Jennifer Tilly’s body. Six months later, Chucky attempts to ambush his original nemesis Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent!), only to be gunned down.

Most recently, Chucky returned in this year’s THE CULT OF CHUCKY. Using a voodoo spell (that he found on the internet), Chucky can now split his soul into various hosts. This allows him to possess other Good Guy Dolls, allowing him to invade the mental hospital that Nica is stashed in. Chucky bumps off doctors and patients one by one, uses one of his doppelgangers to possess Nica, and eventually escapes with Tiffany before Andy Barclay can stop him.

For the time being, this is the final entry into the series, though there surely will be more sequels as long as Don Mancini, Brad Dourif, and Jennifer Tilly are still willing to keep it going! Until then, Jennifer continues to add more screen credits to her impressive filmography, while also taking part in high-stakes games of poker! Believe it or not, she is quite the card shark!

The last thing you’ll see before you lose all of your poker chips.

Dubbed “The Unabombshell,” Jennifer Tilly has been frequently sighted at many big live poker tournaments, including the unofficial championship (World Series of Poker) where she won the Ladies Only Event in 2005, as well as many other prestigious¬†festivals in exotic locations worldwide! Her ties with the poker world began shortly after she started dating another successful player, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, back in 2004.

Though she did announce her retirement from poker in 2005, Jennifer is currently back at it with bragging rights to nearly a million dollars in live tournament winnings as of June 2017! Its a real testament to her talent that she seems to effortlessly balance her lucrative poker career with appearances in Broadway productions, films, and voice work! So what’s the next step for Jennifer Tilly?

Well I wouldn’t be shocked if she ended up combining her two favorite pastimes. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time before we see Chucky invade Las Vegas (much like Warwick Davis’ Leprechaun did) or maybe even Atlantic City. Either way, I think it’d be pretty funny to see Tiffany and Chucky making a killing (in every sense of the word) at a casino, and it would definitely bring Tilly’s career full circle! The ball’s in your court Don Mancini – make it happen!