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Nonbinary actor Lachlan Watson first cast a spell on the world with their portrayal of trans teen Theo Putnam in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Now they're poised to slash their way into audiences' hearts again in the dual roles of Glen and Glenda -- the twin children of the titular killer doll and his murderous paramour, Tiffany -- in the second season of super-queer TV series Chucky. It's a role, or rather roles, that the lifelong horror fan was thrilled to take on.
Watson's fascination with the horror genre began as a child when they watched old black-and-white monster movies with their mother. Growing up queer and trans, Watson connected with the genre. "Horror makes you root for the societal outcasts. And that story is inherently queer. And it's a story of survival and bodily mutation and all of these things that society kind of associates with queer and trans people...being a freak, being a weirdo," they say. "But in horror, that's not a bad thing. It's celebrated."
And nobody tells queer horror stories like Chucky creator Don Mancini, who Watson first met on a virtual panel about queer horror. It was the first time that they had ever heard of Glen and Glenda (the names are the title of an Ed Wood film), and they recalled how Mancini had spoken about them while talking about the film Seed of Chucky. "So often trans characters...are an afterthought or a box on a checklist," Watson says. "It's not often that you hear someone talk about characters like that with such care and intention."
That respect for the characters is true in this latest iteration, Watson attests. "So many trans characters are just there to be trans or to talk about being trans or to educate someone else about what it is to be trans. And the fact that these characters get to be layered is revolutionary in its simplicity," they explain.
As to whether Watson thinks only trans people should play trans roles, they believe it's all about balancing and creating equality of opportunity for queer and trans actors. "We're all so different -- when I say we, I mean nonbinary actors -- because there's only like seven of us in the media right now. But we're only fighting over the same three roles because the other 15 are taken by straight cis people," says Watson.
That said, Watson has no intention of being pigeonholed. "I want to play everything under the sun...because to me, being nonbinary is being a blank canvas," they explain. "I will make it my mission for the rest of my life to play as many things as possible and to just Tilda Swinton myself into every little box just to prove that I can. Just to show that there is no one way to be a person and there definitely is no one way to be trans."
If that sounds impassioned, that's because it is, and it's earned. While Watson says they were never told outright to stay closeted for the sake of their career, they were warned it might limit their casting opportunities or cost them roles -- and it did. Before Watson's breakthrough role in Chilling Adventures, they had taken a two-year hiatus from acting following a transphobic work experience when they came out. Watson had accepted a new role shortly before coming out, but when they told production they were trans, things suddenly changed on set for the star. "Because the role was not trans, they felt that I couldn't [or] didn't want to do that. They just made that decision for me instead of asking -- and they essentially found ways to make me want to stop working there," they recount.
"I stopped acting for quite some time. I was trans -- and I was happy -- but I wasn't acting because I was essentially told you can't have both," Watson says.
That all changed with the role of Chilling Adventures' Theo, who quickly became a fan favorite. "That changed my perspective in a big way," they recall. "I ended up with so much responsibility and so big of a platform to speak and to change those people's lives and to burn down those buildings. And it was no longer just about me."
Watson sees their role in Chucky as another opportunity to upend perceptions about queer and trans actors, particularly because the characters of Glen and Glenda are already beloved and established. "If I can play a small part in bringing these characters to life and continuing to use these characters as a vessel for change and to continue changing people's lives, I will absolutely do that," they assure. "I don't think that job will ever be done."
This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 History issue, which is out on newsstands August 30. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.