With credits spanning over a decade, Brian Tyree Henry is intent on submerging himself as deeply in drama and comedy as he does in horror and animation.
After pulling at heartstrings in If Beale Street Could Talk and flexing hard in Widows, the 37-year-old two-time Emmy-nominated actor of stage, television and screen lent his voice to the Oscar-winning gem Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He kicks off his next slew of must-sees with Child’s Play, out Friday, followed by Superintelligence, The Woman in the Window and Joker, among them.
We scheduled some phone time with Henry a day after the actor landed in Los Angeles from Australia, where he’d just wrapped next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong, and just before he jaunted off to Indio, California, for Coachella. Henry opens up about his love of horror, the power of laughter and when, oh, when Atlanta will return.
ESSENCE: Okay, you must explain how you got tangled up with that evil little doll named Chucky in Child’s Play.
Brian Tyree Henry: So many people have asked me that question! Horror is one of my favorite genres, so it’s like, why would I not do Child’s Play? I grew up in the eighties and the horror movies of that era were pretty bomb. I am a huge Chucky fan and have seen every single one of the movies. Being a part of this project was a no-brainer. We’re retelling the story in a way you’d never imagine and it’s going to scare the hell out of you!
You were in the inaugural run of The Book of Mormon and last year you costarred in Broadway’s Lobby Hero. Do you have a preperformance ritual?
I like to be around my castmates, just talking trash and making everybody laugh. It takes our minds off everything that’s in front of us. If you’re spending too much time thinking about your lines and not being connected to who you’re in the scene with, it’s going to show.
That’s fair! Next up you’ll star in the comedy Superintelligence with Melissa McCarthy. How was that experience?
These past few years I’ve been able to collaborate with actors I’ve admired for a long time, and she’s definitely one of them. I play her best friend, who’s the head of IT at Microsoft. That’s a completely different character for me. And if you can get Melissa to laugh, you know you’ve done what you’re supposed to do. We filmed in Atlanta, which was a lot of fun.
Speaking of Atlanta…
We’re coming back, but it takes time, you know? Just like gumbo has to simmer, we’re marinating on things, on the world, first. But trust and believe, we’ll be back and hitting heavy. We won’t disappoint.
Lastly, can you describe your journey so far…in one word?
Child’s Play, also starring Mark Hamill voicing the iconic doll, is in theaters Friday.