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Billy is a puppet that has appeared in the Saw films. It was used by the series' primary antagonist John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw, to communicate with his victims by delivering recorded messages, often appearing on a television screen or occasionally in person to describe the details of the sadistic traps and the means by which the victims can survive. Viewers have sometimes incorrectly identified the puppet itself as Jigsaw, because of its presence and connection to the killer.
Although it has never actually been identified in the films, Billy is the name by which it is referred to by writers, directors and members of the cast and crew on documentaries and interviews. The name was given to it by its real-life creator James Wan, who is the director and co-writer of Saw. There is disagreement that the name is spelled Billie, although Wan himself spells it Billy.
The endurance and popularity of the Saw franchise has resulted in the production of Billy merchandise, as well as references in other media. Billy has become a type of mascot for the Saw series.
Leigh Whannell stated at the world premiere of Dead Silence that he was going to put Billy in every movie he made from now on, but its presence might not be obvious.
Billy appears to be a male ventriloquist's dummy, as its jaw is movable in order to give the suggestion that it is talking; however, it is not used in the same manner, as the entire doll is frequently seen moving on its own. Its face is white, with a protruding brow and cheeks that have red spirals painted on them. His red lips form a grin. His eyes are black with red irises, and his head is topped with black, messy hair.
Billy is always depicted wearing a black tuxedo, with a white undershirt and gloves, red bow tie, and red handkerchief in the breast pocket. He also has red Mary-Janes for shoes. In the short film, he is seen wearing a green bowler hat. He is often riding an old-fashioned red tricycle. The only sound originating directly from him is a generic electronic cackle much like one would find in a Halloween-type toy.
It was revealed in Saw IV that Billy's design was taken from a smaller, slightly different version that John had shown to his then-wife, Jill.
According to Wan, the construction of the original puppet's face for Saw involved clay, papier-mâché, and black ping-pong balls with the irises painted in for the eyes. He's also said to have paper towel rolls somewhere inside of him. To make him move, the puppeteers pulled him along on a fishing line.
For Saw II, Billy was redesigned with mechanical features that could be manipulated by a remote control, including his unhinged jaw and his eyes.
For Saw III, the prop crew was given the original puppet, but found it unfit to work, as time had damaged it. Instead, they recreated Billy, using waterjet-cut foam for his body instead of fiberglass, equipped with plates to hold the puppet together and magnets to attach him to his tricycle. The back of his head was removable, to make it easier to slide the animatronic pieces in.
For Saw IV, the prop crew again made the body of waterjet-cut foam, held together by metal rods. They used strong magnets to make a flat rear for the puppet, so it could be easily positioned on any metal surface. The resin-filled ping-pong ball eyes were moved with a remote control, as was the mouth.
Appearances in film
In the first Saw movie, Billy is seen on a television set by Amanda, telling her about the reverse bear trap that was hooked into her jaws. Once Jigsaw explains where she must find the key to unlock the trap, Billy is seen again, congratulating Amanda on her success, wheeling into the room on his tricycle to deliver the message of her freedom.
Later, Adam remembers seeing the puppet in his apartment when the lights went out. While searching through the dark rooms using his camera flash, the puppet's eerie laugh rings through the apartment, and Adam hits it with his bat until it stops.
When Detectives Tapp and Sing uncover Jigsaw's latest hideout, they snoop around his desk, pulling off many blankets to reveal the different contraptions of the mastermind. The two detectives are shocked when they find the Billy puppet staring back at them from under one of the blankets.
In Saw II, Billy is seen on the screen at the beginning of the film, giving Michael hints about the death mask he is wearing. It plays out similarly to Amanda's test, except Michael dies.
Later, when the detectives discover Jigsaw's new hideout, several officers walk up a caged staircase, and are greeted by Billy, who wheels into sight at the top of the stairs on his tricycle and laughs. The fence around the stairs then becomes electrified after one of the rigged steps sets off the trap.
In the third installment, Jigsaw can be seen constructing Billy in a flashback for the purpose of Amanda's game, painting the puppet's face. Later, Billy is used to inform both Troy and Kerry of their respective traps. The puppet is also seen in the background of a flashback that features Jigsaw and Amanda discussing her loyalty.
He is also used to remind Jeff Denlon of his dead son at one point, by being laid down next to his bike in the same position as Jeff's son when he was killed. He then lets off a mocking laugh.
After Jeff cuts Jigsaw's throat, a reflection of Billy can be seen on Jigsaw's heart rate monitor for a split second.
Before Saw III's release, Billy was used in videos to promote the film on such sites as YouTube and MySpace.
Billy is first seen in Saw IV when Rigg awakes after being attacked in his apartment and rendered unconscious. Rigg opens his bathroom door, pulling a trigger-wire from a TV set. Billy appears on the screen to explain Rigg's game. Upon leaving the room, Rigg is greeted by another message concerning his first test, referring to a woman that was stuck in a machine that would scalp her.
Agents Strahm and Perez later find Billy in a room in a school, sitting on a chair surrounded by candles. The puppet tells Agent Perez that her partner would soon take the life of an innocent man (who would later be found out to be Jeff) and that her next move is critical. Billy's eyes begin turning to Perez while saying "Open the door" in a low voice. Perez leans in to hear what the puppet was saying, at which point its face explodes, blowing shrapnel into her face and neck. Perez collapsed into Strahm's arms as Billy begins to laugh.
There is also a flashback of Jigsaw giving an early version of Billy to Jill as a gift, looking less menacing than the most recent version. An interview with Tobin Bell has revealed that this was the beginning of a storyline concerning the origins of Billy, as well as his tricycle, to be explored in future Saw films.
Before Saw IV's release, Billy was used in videos to promote the film on such sites as YouTube and MySpace.
Billy appeared in the opening sequence of Saw V, to tell Seth of his game. This game is later revealed to have been set up by Hoffman to frame Jigsaw and kill Seth. It is unknown how Hoffman knew that Jigsaw had the same puppet. According to a list of potential Jigsaw victims, Seth was the second person tested after Cecil, Jigsaw's first victim. In that test, Jigsaw didn't use a puppet.
However, Cecil's last name on the list is Fletcher whereas in Saw IV his last name is shown to be Adams. It is possible that Jigsaw could have tested two Cecils, and the police didn't find out about Adams until Jill told Strahm about him. If there are two Cecils, then Jigsaw may have used a puppet for Cecil Fletcher's trap and the police found out about it.
Billy is also seen at the beginning of all of the team's traps.
The early version of Billy from a Saw IV flashback, is seen in the background of a flashback explaining the connection between Jigsaw and Hoffman.
In Saw VI, Billy appears on tape in the opening trap, which pits Simone and Eddie against each other. He also addresses William Easton during two of his four tests (Jigsaw himself addresses William via video in his first test). He appears "in person" in William's second test by way of hanging from a noose, and on video in the fourth. Saw VI marks the first time Billy was purposefully shown in person to deliver test information to victims. Snippets of the Seth Baxter tape which Billy is featured in are also played.
Billy appears for the final time in the Saw series in Saw 3D. He gives Ryan and Brad instructions to their trap in person, does the same for Bobby Dagen's second test, and appears on tape for the others. When Hoffman goes to his hideout after he escapes the Reverse Beartrap, multiple Billies can be seen. His final appearance is in Hoffman's secret hideout at the end of the film; Hoffman blows it up, destroying Billy in the explosion. Billy's voice is changed, as if to make seem that Jigsaw is using a voice changer.
In the 2007 film Dead Silence (which is made by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creators of the Saw films), one of the puppets, who appears on the film's poster and wears the same outfit as Jigsaw's puppet, is named Billy. The Saw puppet is also seen in the movie for a brief second, in a shot that reveals all of Mary Shaw's puppets in the attic above the theater.
A graffiti-style painting of Billy's face can be seen on a wall in James Wan's film Death Sentence.
In the 2011 film Insidious, the scene where Josh (the father) is working late in the classroom, the likeness of Billy is drawn in chalk on the blackboard behind his head.
Billy can be seen in the corners of two panels near the beginning of Saw: Rebirth, foreshadowing John's eventual transformation into Jigsaw. The comic also appears to mark Billy as one of John's creations at the toy factory where he worked, but this backstory was negated by Saw IV.
Billy, voiced by Tobin Bell, appears throughout Saw: The Video Game delivering hints and objectives to the player. He also featured prominently in marketing for the game.
He returns in Saw II: Flesh & Blood, the sequel to the first game, also voiced by Tobin Bell. Billy repeats his role as in the first game, giving hints and clues to the player. The player can also collect small Billy dolls throughout the game, which require solving more complicated puzzles in order to obtain them; they are off of the main path, so the player does not have to get them. Flesh & Blood is also the only time in the Saw franchise that he is actually called "Billy."
Amusement park appearances
Billy appears on numerous screens throughout the queue line of Saw – The Ride at Thorpe Park, England telling riders that they are not worthy of the life they have been given. He also appears on his tricycle at the start of the ride itself, telling riders what they will experience, before the car travels up the lift hill, appearing on a screen and saying 'GAME OVER' and finally at the end of the ride, where his head can be seen on a shelf covered with body parts.
The Saw Alive maze, also in Thorpe Park, allows parkgoers to be photographed with Billy.
In the US, Billy appears several times in the maze Saw: Game Over at Orlando Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida.
In popular culture
A line of replica Billy dolls has been released for consumer purchase, mainly through offbeat gift stores. It retains the main characteristics of the doll, though is much cleaner in appearance. Billy Halloween masks and costumes have also been released for purchase.
On a webisode of The Hardy Show, former WWE Superstar Matt Hardy dressed up as Billy for Halloween.
Before the releases of Saw III and Saw IV, Billy was used in videos to promote the films on YouTube and MySpace.
'Billy the Jigsaw Puppet and a second Billy (which appears at the end) are the main antagonists in Scary Movie 4.
A popular internet meme, commonly known as "Jigsaw falls", is a video re-uploaded by several YouTube users. The video involves someone dressed as Billy, riding around a corner on a tricycle. The person falls, breaking off the handle bars. The person looks at the handle bars and exclaims "Jigsaw's dead!" The video has reached over 2.5 million views.
In the internet series The Annoying Orange, Billy appears in "Annoying Saw" and "Annoying Saw 2: The Annoying Death Trap", both in which Orange refers to him as "Clownface", "Emo Clown", and "Donald Trump".
Billy appears in a Dutch parody of The Little House on the Prairie from 'De TV kantine'. Nellie needs to cut off her arm or else she will see a man naked again which is seen earlier in the episode.
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