I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Q&A with Tony Todd in August 2012… here are some highlights.
Q: You’ve done a lot of non-horror work, such as “Platoon”, but you keep coming back to the horror genre…
TT: I just like movies. I’m a classic film noir guy. My personal list of favorites is all black and white films. You gotta know your films. I got a masters in this shit.
Q: How long did it take to shoot “Night of the Living Dead”?
TT: It took six weeks of all nights in a little town called Washington, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). It’s a very interesting city, lots of racial tension there. But people just lined up to be zombies. I had a little breakdown at the fourth or fifth week. I was done, I was just done. Every day we would sit down for lunch and be surrounded by zombies. So I would run to Pittsburgh every chance I got. But that was also my first leading role, so I’m grateful for that.
Q: In “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, how much of Kurn was you and how much was direction?
TT: I think that any actor, any role they get, has to be 50% them because you can’t be someone you’re not. For me, any role I get, I ask myself what I would do if I was that person. I auditioned for “Star Trek” five times, and finally I got called to the Paramount lot and was told to report to wardrobe…
Q: When you were shooting at Cabrini Green, was there ever a sense of real danger?
TT: There’s real danger in Colorado. I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut as an only kid. There were five gangs in my high school and I didn’t belong to any of them. One time I got jumped and lost my school books. I got home and my parents told me not to come home without something I lost. For that reason I learned tenacity, learned to stand up for myself. So, no, there was no problem in Cabrini Green. They paid off all the gangs.
Q: Aside from the tragedy of Brandon Lee, what do you recall from the set of “The Crow”?
TT: “The Crow” was a lovely experience. A lot of times you don’t know going into it how a film is going to do. With “Platoon”, we had no idea the film was going to get four Academy Awards. With “The Crow”, director Alex Proyas knew what he wanted as far as the futuristic look, and Brandon Lee was one of the most gracious, generous, charming actors I’ve ever worked with. We hung out, played pool, chain-smoked, took shots of Jagermeister and enjoyed life. Unfortunately, his fiance was on the set when the tragedy happened…
Q: I know you called Adam Green late at night during “Hatchet” and “Hatchet 2” with script questions. Did you ever use the Candyman voice just to scare him?
TT: Adam is an incredible guy. I met him as a fan first, and he told me he was going to make a movie. And when someone tells you that, you have to believe them. I’m proud of him, he’s become a really successful filmmaker. But no, I didn’t fuck with Adam like that. I do tend to bug my directors and be thorough. When making “Candyman”, Bernard Rose brought me to the Kingston Mines (near Peoria). He brought me to Chicago, and we talked for like a week. He took me out to a bar and he said, “Will you shut up? I just want to hear Buddy Guy.” He told me then that the role would change my life.
Q: What was your experience on “24”?
TT: Howard Gordon did that show, wrote and produced it. I had been in the “X-Files” episode “Sleepless”, which was Howard’s episode. On “24”, I actually had the pleasure of playing two characters. First I was a detective, and then later they brought me back as the recurring General Juma. It was a blast working in South Africa, hanging out in Johannesburg. But then there was a scene in the White House where I had to backhand the president. I did that and the network got letters, so they killed me off in the next episode when I was supposed to go on for four more weeks.
Q: You were most recently seen in an episode of Adam Green’s “Holliston”, playing a version of yourself.
TT: That’s the only place I can do that. There’s nothing else like trying to be a version of yourself.
Q: And it really is supposed to be you, crashing on a girl’s couch. They call you Tony, and they call you Candyman.
TT: They’ll never stop calling me Candyman. It’s the 20th anniversary of that film and I’m proud of it. But that’s also why I have to go shopping after midnight. And even then, someone will come up to me and ask, “Why are you buying toilet paper?” And I say, “Because the Candyman can.”
Q: The hype right now on the festival circuit is about “Sushi Girl”. What can you tell us about that film and who you are in it?
TT: We showed it in Montreal, got some fantastic reviews, and will be seeing the theatrical release in January. It’s awesome, it’s a gangster movie about the Yakuza. Sonny Chiba is in it. Jimmy Duval is in it. Mark Hamill is my right hand man, and you’ll see him in a way you’ve never seen him before. By the way, if you like collectibles and you’re in Hollywood, you gotta go to Hollywood Poster and Sign. I’ve gotten so many collectibles and stills there over the years. But yeah, “Sushi Girl” has the best role of my life. I play Duke, the leader of the gang.
Q: And you’ve also got the new “Call of Duty”…
TT: Yeah! “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” drops November 13, 2012! One of the best games I ever worked on. Squeezing into a wet suit at 8 in the morning really lets you know what kind of man you are. I play Admiral Tommy “Big Boy” Briggs, the guy who sends you on your missions. I’m actually still finishing up voiceover work for the multiplayer edition. They’re projecting that this will be the biggest video game ever — billions! I don’t get a piece of that, but I’m just flattered to be in it. They do take care of me, though — I didn’t work for free.
Q: Someone still owes us a “Final Destination” movie where we finally figure out who William Bludworth really is…
TT: If you find out, you tell me. He’s not Death, I’ll tell you that. That would be too easy. They are talking about a sixth film… people like seeing obnoxious teenagers getting killed.
Q: Anything else on the horizon?
TT: I just signed on for “Zombie Corps”, a $10 million picture with soldiers in World War II. They’re involved in zombie experiments. What’s interesting about my character is I’m coming from the zombie’s point of view. So I can’t speak, but we learn to control our emotions and be soldiers with zombie abilities.