The Candyman Can!!!! Tony Todd by Greg Tiderington

I was so stoked to be interviewing today's horror icon and legend Tony Todd as he for sure does a great job by playing creepy characters that is if you watched the 'Candyman' trilogy or even his special appearances in 'Final Destination' along with him reprising his roles in some of the sequels too.
Yet he is opposite in person and very kind hearted too with a good sense of humor to top it all off.
I met him at the Crypticon Horror Convention and it was great socialising with him since I always wanted to meet him in person to see what he's like apart from his initmidating horror characters and it was an honor I must say.
He agreed to doing a phone interview a year later as he gave alot of great detail on his career in horror and non-horror films.
Some of you may remember him as the leading character Ben in the 1990 Tom Savini remake 'Night of the Living Dead' in which he did a bang on job.
Plus did a string of other horror flicks like 'Wishmaster', 'House of Grimm', 'Vampire in Vegas', 'Hatchet',
'The Graves', 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', 'Army of the Damned', 'Frankenstein' and many many more to come.
He also has done alot of TV work including a brief horror series 'Splatter'
To top his other credits he has done voice over work as well as working steadily doing live theatre.
Plus he worked with many other horror greats such as Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Tom Towles, Ted Raimi, Robert Englund, Muse Watson, Michael Berryman, Adrienne Barbeau, Dee Wallace, Sid Haig and the list goes on...
Let's get into his long awaited interview shall we???



 

At what age did you see yourself as an entertainer ?

About when I was three. (Laughs) Then I became capitised when I was in highschool. I discovered that I loved entertaining and had a talent for drawing scripts. Also I loved comic books and was an only kid so I had alot of imaginary friends as a little boy.

Did you see yourself acting in horror films?

No I didn't but I went to college and I got a masters in theatre and stuff and I only thought of myself acting on stage for the rest of my life. And to this day I try to do a stage show every year and a half at least two years as that's my true love is stage. I did grow up loving movies though. My kind wasn't cable though I watched midnight movies and 8:00 Movies I was hooked on them and of course the midnight classics were mainly horror films.

What was your first horror film?

A scary movie I was in was called 'Voodoo Dawn'... Maybe my third or fourth film... and technically my first film ... I did alot of different work... but 'Night of the Living Dead' came along and I remember seeing the original when I was in highschool at a drive in I was mesmerised that fact that Duane Jones was not the american man. 'Night of the Living Dead' was my first film that sawyed Tom Savini to cast me in.


What was it like playing the role of Ben in the remake of 'Night of the Living Dead'?

Ben was big shoes to fill but you know my good friend and I were working on another project in Pittsburgh and told me I resembled Duane and I managed to auditioned for Tom Savini and saw the light and we became good friends ever since. It was a pretty darn good remake.

What kinds of memories do you have doing that flick?

It was nice... my son was born... there was alot of nice stuff with zombies walking around. This was years before 'Walking Dead' normalised zombies.

Now you said you saw the original at a drive in did you watch it again to get the feel of doing the remake?

My job is not to do a memorex. Personally I wanted to put my own spin on it. There's was enough DNA left of me for Duane to make it my own hopefully

Millions remember you as the 'Candyman'. What was it like portraying that role as you were pretty creepy in it?

I got a call one day from my manager at the time I met Bernard Rose a brilliant director and adaptor which was based on the Clive Barker storybook. I knew when I read it and when I first saw the scene's of the bees in his mouth and his chest cavity that I wanted to do sort of the 'Phantom of the Opera' thing and I imagined being the turn of the century to try to create that gothic romance that I was after. That was a role I wanted to be all my life.

What was the most enjoyable scene to do in the original?


All of them. I love acting so my favourite sequence was when Virginia Madsen's character finally comes to the lear and when we finally met person to person it was a gothic romance though she was the love of my life. She was a lovely co-star as well as Xander Berkley, Ted Raimi etc. Just having a wonderful cast.


Which was the most struggling to do ?

Just with the bees we had a million bees on set. When I was a little boy I was afraid of insects. I was afraid of worms specifically so if they had worms they might've found another actor but I knew it was gonna be fullfillable when I was gonna be in a process of becoming an actor and studying and one of the things we learned was fearlessness and not being fearful and transmitting secret things that people make and seeing it in a normal life and bringing those challenges to life

Who did you enjoy working with the most in the film?


I loved every actor that I worked with cause this is a profession that thousands of people are inspired to and only you know... tens of thousands are selected so if you get to that level just be greatful that you're selected and you get paid to do something that you dream about so I have a very few actors I have not enjoyed working with. When selected per say you're getting paid alot of money and giving you free food and you're doing something that's going to be seen by millions of people its not like politics

Do you have any secrets that you would like to share with us by working on that set?

I think it's been pretty well documented. I mean secrets I pretty much had my own process developing and becoming a character that actors and artists keep private like you don't ask like "Oh I choose a particular scene" You feel connected to it and wanna do the best you can and hopefully it'll last forever. Stage however is even more precious because it's once in a lifetime as each performance is unique and that's why it's much more special to me. But I love acting. Acting is appalling and I've been gifted and I've been blessed to keep working. Most artists starve you know?

What experiences would you like to share with us by working on the sequels of these films?

Well I got to continue the process of the character. At least with the segments. The third one was not as good as the first two. At least we've got an action figure out of it as people would come up to me at conventions and there was only supposed to be a thousand of those but there must've been ten thousand of them. It's always good to redo a character because you find new things about it. We're architects, I'm just an architect to build the best building that we can with the material that you have available to you.

You had a special appearance as Johnny Valentine in 'Wes Craven's Wishmaster'. What was it like doing that one?

It was wonderful and I got to work with Robert Kurtzman and the special effects person. That particular character, the hardest part was being in a water tank. There was a real water tank and I had to emerge myself with it not once but twice. When we shot it the first time, something went wrong and they had to repeat it the other day. Eventually that role was rewarding but they had to get it right. But again that exhibits my personal life of fearlessness. Not many people would emerge themselves in a water tank. I'm an avid swimmer, I'm not afraid of water and I always trust my crew. I had a good ATM on the set and they know how to do things well and there's not alot of chaos and a limited repitation and a limited waste of time on set.

Now I loved your special appearances in the 'Final Destination' films. You really lived to portray a mysterious character as a morgue attendant Bludworth. What memories do you have doing this one?

They paid me a whole lot of money (Laughs) They're actually showing a 'Final Destination' marathon today up there in Canada. It's been on a pay channel all day. Some of them have a theme. It seems that Glenn Morgan and James Wong created the movie version based on the story by Jeffrey Reddick who's a great writer. They were also involved writing for the 'X-Files' which I was also involved in and wrote the scene for the film of the morgue which I was involved in. It was a character I got to do was not as drawn or fleshed out but it is still an important part of my gig.

You also did it in my hometown of Vancouver, BC how'd you enjoy working here?

I love working in Vancouver. Solid crews up there, craft services and wonderful locations. Downtown Vancouver and Burnaby there's a reason why it's called Hollywood North. It based my confidence as a character actor. It's great. It's a great city.

What kinds of feedback did you get from your fans from those movies?

From 'Final Destination'? Well people seem to love my work. I don't unanalyze why. Everyone's unique. If you love it then it keeps me working. What I don't respond to is negativity which I rarely get. 'Final Destination' is not brain surgery but it is a confident film franchise that has been successful.

Your role in it was similar to the 'Candyman'. Did they cast you due to it?

How is it similar to the 'Candyman'? There's no book, he's not dead. Nothing similar

With the deepness of his speaking

I have a deep voice that's one of my instruments

Mysterious I guess... They're both equally mysterious

Well no they're completely different. He's a morgue attendant and knows the secret about deaths. The Candyman is trying to avenge on what has happened to him when he was alleged by a mob. Totally different characters.

Okay sorry bout that

There's nothing to be sorry about I'm just clarifying for you

You had the lead role as Sylvian in 'Vampire in Vegas' which was a vampire as you were great with your cold speaking and sarcasm in it. Did you enjoy doing this role?

You watched that movie?

Yes

I've never seen it. I enjoyed working on it. I think it was one of the one's that didn't work. It was 10 days out of my life. I've never seen it so I can't speak on it. I've learned though on film's like that like 'Scarecrow Slayer' and 'Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' that you're only as good as your weakest link. So instead of just accepting things that came to me at this point in my life just as getting offers every week and I rarely turn them down cause some actors feel their luck is gonna run out. As I get older I'm more picky and more selective about projects just the way it should be. Whenever is in doubt or whenever I get the same kind of scripts which I turn to be there where the real magic happens.

'Jack the Reaper' looks like an interesting film as it takes place in a carnival. Would you like to share with the readers as to what you play in it and how it was like working on the set of this one?

It was by a woman director so one of the reasons I took it cause I claim that more women should be behind the lens for an opportunity. I play the head of the train historical museum so it was similar to that station where the teenagers robbed so my character there were going to be more of those as they were going to expand my character more. It was big but that was only a day out of my life.

I thought you were one of the best performers in 'Army of the Damned' in which you had a supporting role named Jackson in it? You played a great commander with his aggressions. How'd you relate to the role?

They gave me an actual SWAT vehicle and once you can have something real that you can hold on to and to play with that's handy as a job for an actor and accepting it, leading it and doing it whole heartedly. It was a fun time.

Now I noticed on imdb you were in a remake of 'Frankenstein'. I haven’t seen it yet. What was your role all about?

Bernard Rose who did 'Candyman' did an adaptation in it and I played a blind homeless beggar in it. Everyone knows that I have a huge musical affinity and so I got to channel my inner lovely waters and innerscore. If you looked on Rotten Tomatoes we got 100 percent approval. However, Frankenstein was one of the film's that allowed me to realise that unless you have distributorship that you're not going to be seen. 10 or 15 years ago we could make it we had a spotlight back in the days such as Blockbuster, Hollywood Video etc. It had to be either a television show or a mainstream lead if you wanted to get seen. Unfortunately it didn't get distributed the way we wanted it but I know that eventually time will tell but anyone who's seen it loves the film. Xavier Samuel plays the monster and Carrie-Ann Moss who's from Canada Miss Frankenstein and Danny Huston playing Doctor Frankenstein it was a great wonderful experience.

I understand you’ll be in many upcoming horror films including 'Death House' which was co-written by the late Gunnar Hansen whom we remembered as Leatherface in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' would you like to tell us on what to expect with your roles in these one’s?

Gunnar was a good friend of mine and one of his wishes while he was diagnosed with cancer was to get this film done. I took my active role to answer his death wish. I haven't seen it yet and can't tell you any more about it. I know that it's tracking well and the trailer has 1.5 million viewers and this coming weekend I'm going to Scare-Con where we're actually going to screen it for the first time publicly so I'm looking forward to it. And my friend Kane Hodder is in it and Dee Wallace is in it. Alot of good people.

Now here’s some fun stuff: What are your favourite horror films?

The first horror film I saw was 'Abbott & Costello Meets Frankentein' I'll never forget it. Otherwise whenever it came on I took it seriously. 'Rosemary's Baby' is probably the most effective horror film that I've ever seen. All the early Universal horror films I love such as 'Frankenstein', 'The Wolf Man' and 'The Invisible Man'

If you were a horror film actor for a day whether he was alive or dead who would he be?

Well to be obvious I'd go for Smiley Peter Lorre and I have mad respect Boris Karloff. Fangoria magazine just hit the Fangoria Hall of Fame and I was bound to be initial the woman behind 'Walking Dead', Boris Karloff and myself the first three inductees. I'm really honoured for that.

What show were you in that you cherish to this very day?

TV Show?

Any Show

Well all of them that work. I don't have a favourite I've been blessed that I did over 100 films and over 18 shows and even the plays that were infrequently that I've done a plays that didn't work. The challenges that make them work. I've been on Broadway twice. Have you ever been to New York City?

No

Well New York City is the mega ground for theatre and arts and being in the city that stays open 24/7. If you're a huge jazz buff you can finish a show and then you have a night to yourself.

What show were you in that you weren't proud of and you'd like to change?

I'd rather not mention them. Very few of them. But again it goes back to as you're only good as your weakest link. So if you're carrying a ball and someone else isn't carrying a ball and two people are looking at two pages of a different script. It's not going to work. I try to find something positive about every experience. When of the things people choose arts as a profession. Whether a writer or a set designer, actor or director cause you wanna do something that uses creative impulse that opposes to corporal self taking skills.

What are your ambitions in life?

A Definite artist if I can. Once we go to the Mars space colony.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness? Well we rescue cats we just brought a new cat in our household. His name is Charlie Parker he is very shy and is hiding in tight spaces and just getting him to unite and looking forward for him to running and chasing tails with each other and having a joy.

Great thanks for giving me all the information on all of this as this is the end of our interview

I hope that this has been helpful Greg.