Playtime’s over, Chucky; back to the glass case with you, Annabelle. When it premieres on Nov. 28, the Apple TV+ series Servant will introduce a new contender for the title of Scariest Doll Ever. His name? “Scary Jerry.” At least, that’s how he was known on the set of the show, which was created by Tony Basgallop and executive-produced by M. Night Shyamalan. “It’s got a presence that doll,” Servant co-star Rupert Grint tells Yahoo Entertainment of the character, which is the polar opposite of Disney+’s huggable Baby Yoda. “You don’t really want to touch it.” Hence the freaky nickname — although Shyamalan himself isn’t a fan of that moniker. “I don’t abide by these names for the doll,” the Glass director says, laughing. (Watch our video interview above.)
Scary Jerry’s actual name is Jericho, and he’s the infant son of Dorothy and Sean Turner (Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell), who welcome a new nanny, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), into their lovely Philadelphia home in the series premiere. But Leanne quickly discovers that there’s a tragic story underlying her employers’ apparent domestic bliss: the real Jericho died when he was 13 weeks old, plunging his mother into a deep well of grief. To pull her out, Sean purchased a “reborn doll” — an astonishingly lifelike replica of their son. This isn’t the stuff of fiction: reborn dolls have been used as therapy for couples who are grieving a lost child. “It fascinated me that people can get this done,” Basgallop says. “You can get your infant child immortalized in doll form. It intrigued me why someone would do that. ... I think there’s a real darkness to that.”
Servant is the strongest of Apple TV+’s initial slate, earning strong reviews for its slow-burn horror and already picking up a renewal for Season 2.
During filming, the cast tried to keep the mood on set light with some Scary Jerry-centric pranks. “The doll had a very prankable ability, just because he moves so freakishly realistically” Kebbell says, remembering how he’d pretend to drop the “baby” when others were watching, or throw him like a football. Ambrose remembers how the doll’s detachable head provided a steady sense of humor (and horror) as well. “We’d walk by the prop cart, and there’s a little miniature coffin case with a decapitated baby with two heads sitting next to it!”
Shyamalan knew that Scary Jerry was a star when he passed the Mom Test. As in, scaring not just one, but two moms. “When my mom saw the first ad for the show, she was like ‘It’s a weird baby,’ and I was like, ‘Was it a baby, Mom? Are you sure?’ She got scared, and that’s the feeling I wanted to evoke with the show: is it real or not?” He also tested the doll with his mother-in-law, who was visiting the production offices from India. “I was like, ‘What’s this baby?’ and pulled the baby out. I’ve never seen anyone freak out like that! I felt so bad. That’s how real it is.”
Servant premieres on Apple TV+ on Nov. 28.
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