Imaginary Star DeWanda Wise Talks Monster Chauncey, Bloopers, and Her 'Personal Resolution' (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Imaginary, DeWanda Wise

In celebration of Imaginary's home video release, star DeWanda Wise spoke about her experience filming across from the terrifying teddy bear known as Chauncey.

The horror film follows Wise's Jessica, whose former childhood imaginary friend returns with a vengeance, terrorizing both her and her new family.

DeWanda Wise Talks Imaginary

DeWanda Wise Imaginary

In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Imaginary star DeWanda Wise addressed possible gag reel moments on set, working across from the film's monster Chauncey, and navigating through the 46-door alternate reality set.

With the film reaching its home release window, one aspect of any project’s release that fans love is the inclusion of a blooper reel.

"I can't wait to see," the actress said regarding possible gag reel moments, going on to share that one moment she remembered having trouble keeping a straight face when working alongside the film’s central dog:

"I can't wait to see. I mean, I will tell you, the movie—I mean, it's a haunted teddy bear. So, of course, there are so many absurd moments you have to film as an actor. The only thing, though, that broke me was that dog in that movie. This dog in this movie. I will never forget. Director Jeff [Wadlow] turned to me at one point. He was like, what are we making? I'm like, 'This is camp, Jeff, okay.'. You have a small dog. You have this Broadway legend, Betty Buckley, reciting a dramatic monologue. Like, I could not keep it together."

Talking about her experience making the film, one unique aspect of this project for Wise was how she "hadn’t played anyone nearly as soft" before:

"Every time I do something, my team's like, 'We don't have this of you. And I'm like, 'I know, isn't that the point?' And I hadn't. I hadn't played anyone nearly as soft. You know, if anybody had a reaction to Jessica's parenting and how this teen girl was treating Jessica, I agree with you, you know what I'm saying? I feel like any other character I would play, it would be like, 'I'm sorry, what did you say?' But that just wasn't the characterization."

"She’s just radically soft," the star continued, calling the experience "really delightful:"

"She's just radically soft. And I mean, it was really delightful. I couldn't get over it; I couldn't stop joking about an onset. Poor Taegan [Burns], and if she had to hear one more time, me be like, 'Save me, Taegan.'"

Wise explained how, back in 2019, she "made a personal resolution to have as much fun as humanly possible working:"

"[In 2019] I made a personal resolution to have as much fun as humanly possible working. Like filming is my favorite thing. There are plenty of actors who don't actually like it anymore. And they're still just doing it. I'm not one of them. And we just had--when I tell you, we had the best time making this movie, we had the best time making this movie. So yeah, I mean, I just carry, and I cherish the experience of being surrounded by a cast and crew who all wanted to be there. It's priceless. I cannot tell you."

The movie revolves around an evil Teddy bear named Chauncey, an abandoned imaginary friend.

When asked if the character ever looked radically different, Wise explained how "Chauncey had to look like a bear that an eight-year-old would pick up:"

"Chauncey had to look like a bear that an eight-year-old would pick up. So we were playing around, you know, there were always very subtle facial expressions that Mark was playing around with and, you know, Jeff helped codesign, but outside of that slightly off-kilter, you know, the shape of his eyes or whatever, Chauncey was always going to be Chauncey. 

While Chauncey was normally a casual Teddy bear in appearance, that was not always the case. In the movie's final act, audiences see a far more monstrous version of the villain.

Wise joked that "it was a little easier" playing across from "Chauncey Bear Beast," who was portrayed by Dane DiLiegro:

"It was a little easier. Dane [DiLiegro] is extraordinary. Shoutout to Dane. Dane plays Chauncey Bear Beast, and I'm super elated for him because all the man wanted to do was play an actual human being, and now he's going to be on a show playing an actual human being. Speaking of falling in love with your cast and crew. I'm so elated for him. But that does not, you know, negate the fact that that man is over seven feet and was wearing a terrifying suit."

"I was legitimately terrified," the star went on to admit: 

"I was legitimately terrified. You know, by the time we were kind of not only having him in full regalia but man those scenes, the like everything, the practical effects, the way that the lighting was working. You know what I mean, though, there's like a little mini stunt with a de-elevated stage that you find in the movie, so yeah, all of it—everyone, we were all kind of in it."

One of the key sequences in the film’s last act takes place in another plane of existence, one filled with dozens of blue doors.

"I think there were 46 doors on that set," Wise recalled, pointing out how, at the end of the day, they only filmed on the set for "less than a week:"

"I think there were 46 doors on that set. Nice. And, um, definitely our most expensive set piece in the movie--this is producer DeWanda talking. We kept talking about it too because it was, like, we shot on that stage for like, less than a week. You know, it cost so much. It looked incredible. And it was an enormous practical set. I mean, it was big enough that I had a game, which was like, Where does this door go? That’s how big. That set was so huge that you could legitimately get lost on it. And I did plenty of times."

Wise made sure to praise her fellow young performers, Taegun Burns and Pyper Braun, calling the experience of working with them "inspiring:"

"I legitimately love working with young performers. I've done it a number of times now. They're just, one, it's inspiring, because they're so open. There's not a version of working with a kid where they're like, Oh, my character wouldn't do that. The things that adults do, but they, you know, were so, they're open, they're willing, they're normal kids, you know, they're not Hollywood kids at all."

Imaginary is now available to purchase digitally and will land on Blu-ray and DVD on 5/14.

- In This Article: Imaginary
Release Date
March 08, 2024
DeWanda Wise
Tom Payne
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.