Black Screenwriter Shares Backstory on How She Created Killer Storyline for ‘M3GAN’ Horror Film

This is the magic Hollywood experience when a lifelong horror fan puts her pen to paper.

Screenwriter Akela Cooper unwrapped the backstory of the killer doll in the newly released M3GAN horror film that fans are raving about.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Cooper’s storyline follows the story of a prototype that was built by a roboticist and tested as a caretaker of her 8-year-old niece. In an effort to provide a guardian to aid parents in need of a babysitter, the PG-13 nightmare unfolds as M3GAN becomes self-aware.

James Wan and [Atomic Monster executives] Michael Clear and Judson Scott had been kicking around an idea about a new killer-doll movie. Judson was at the American Girl doll store and thought, ‘What if one of these was killing people?’ We met and hit it off,” Cooper said.

“We knew that we wanted to differentiate “M3GAN” from “Child’s Play.” Chucky is a doll; this is an AI companion.”

Cooper shared that in avoiding that obstacle, she wanted the doll to reflect the size of whatever child she would befriend.

“Initially Cady was 6 or 7 and now she’s 8 in the movie. [So M3GAN] is taller and she’s capable of walking around, capable of movement, which makes her different immediately from Annabelle and Chucky. You want that uncanniness, because that is disturbing to people,” Cooper said.

“I was in my own little world thinking, ‘What’s her personality? How is she going to kill people?’”

“The first thing that came to me was her name. I knew she needed to be “M3GAN” and the acronym would come later,” she shared. “And I knew that the opening was going to revolve around a child who’d been orphaned and had to come live with her aunt because years ago, when I moved [to L.A.], my sister talked to me about her children: ‘If anything happens to me and my husband … I want the kids to go to you.’ And I’m like, you want me to take care of two small children? What?!”

“I came up with the story of this orphan girl who goes to live with her aunt, who’s in over her head,” the screenwriter explained. “She’s a career woman who pawns the child off on this AI doll to cope with her niece’s emotional needs and also give her time to work, when in fact the lesson is you can’t pawn off human beings onto technology.”

After being passed on by Warner Bros., Cooper ran the plot by producer Jason Blum, who loved the idea and was on board.

Knowledge on what worked or hasn’t in the past was a road map for Cooper when developing the characters.

“In a post-“Scream” world, characters have to be smart, she said. “The audience is smart. You have to acknowledge what you’re doing. That’s why the characters in the movie are like, ‘This is creepy’ or ‘We shouldn’t do this!’”

Cooper recalled how she was always wary of modern technology like Alexa and Echo, who listen in at all times.

“We wrote this five years ago now. At the time I was like, ‘AI that can have a conversation with you, that can babysit your kids, is weird and creepy. What is going to happen when that evolves?’”

M3GAN released in theaters on Jan. 6.