Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love For The Brothers: Tony Todd


Tony Todd. Naturally, everyone and their great grandmother twice removed thinks Candyman; with good reason. He was the iconic Black boogeyman from the 1990s that was sorely missed from the horror pantheon since the hey day of Blacula. From the mind of Clive Barker's short story "The Forbidden," Candyman is a story rooted in white supremacist violence and injustice that molded a mildly sympathetic monster, but for all intent is still murderous without remorse. That deep voice and charisma has undoubtedly won over a massive amount of fans that show up in droves to see him at conventions to this day, each I'm sure, having their own enthusiastic experience about the first time they saw Todd in that long fur-lined coat.

Born Anthony Tiran Todd on December 4, 1954 in Washington D.C., Todd graduated from the University of Connecticut as well as attended the theater school, Eugene O'Neill National Theatre Institute and even taught playwriting to high school students. His vast film and television appearances are both overwhelming and impressive: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Night Of The Living Dead, The X-Files, Final Destination, Masters Of Horror, Hatchet, Charmed, Smallville, Wishmaster, Platoon, and that's not even scratching the surface!

Coming across a few interviews here and there thanks to his growing Twitter presence and warm engagement with his fans, Mr. Todd has wonderful insight and experience that seem a little unknown and quite profound. Today, instead of lamenting on all his amazing accomplishments on screen and on-stage, I found some quotes from the man about his life and career that speak to his journey and impact our film savvy universe.

On his desire for the main role in Night Of The Living Dead (1990): Night of the Living Dead was my first starring role. First lead. And I remember I was in Pittsburgh doing something for HBO/Showtime-they were merged at the time, and I remember watching the original at a drive-in, and being really impressed that a) you had a black actor on screen played by Duane Jones, who was carrying the movie, and b) it was genuinely scary. You had the black-and-white, and it looked like a documentary. So I ran into the office-I found the production office-and I grabbed [director] Tom Savini by his lapels, literally, and said, "You got to read me. You got to read me." He tried to tell me I was close, I said, "You got to read me." And I just laid it out, and he gave me the job that day. So that was important for me. Later, my son was born too, during that, and that was significant.

On how Candyman has had a lasting impact: One positive thing I’ve been able to do, because gang members love that film so fucking much, I get a lot of work as a gang interventionist. We use Candyman to open up a dialogue and we talk about things. One of my dream projects is a foundation where teenagers from different backgrounds can be taken someplace every year. Just get them together and see that there’s a different world out there. Talk to them about the disparities between culture and classes in this society, you know? And hopefully they come back home and spread whatever joy they got. I want that to be my legacy. 

Todd on stage in black odyssey
On why he enjoys doing theatre: Theatre or stage is my favorite medium because you actually spend six weeks going through the material with a fine-tooth comb with other actors until everybody knows the material backwards and forwards. And then you get on stage and it’s immediate gratification because it’s loud. Film, on the other hand, and television, you tend to get the script and you work on it in private. And then when you come on the set on that day—I mean, they say you have rehearsals but it’s not the same kind of rehearsal. It’s like you have to make a decision that is less organic. Like the decision that is going to be the most, you know, expedient. And if you’re not a good actor, sometimes that first choice is not necessarily the best choice. 

On Tony Todd being Tony Todd: It's very interesting that most of the roles I've gotten are grim, when I'm actually a very well-adjusted man and had a happy upbringing. I guess there are some dark shadows somewhere in there, but I'm a big kid. 

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