Set Visit: Masters of Horror - Tony Todd
are quite rushed on the day of my visit to the set of Mick Garris’
season two MASTERS OF HORROR episode: "Valerie on the
Stairs". It’s the last day of filming and precious minutes
are licking off the clock as the day stretches thinner and thinner.
I am told, as I walk into the
The night I came home from seeing CANDYMAN in theatres - October 16th, 1992 to be exact - I walked directly into my bathroom, shut out the light, stared into the medicine cabinet mirror and said these five words: “Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman” – Nothing happened. The hook-handed-beehive-ghetto-slasher never showed. The movie lied.
Todd in the role that made him famous: "Candyman"
Fourteen years later, on this, the morning of my second trip out to the set of Showtime’s Masters of Horror (you can check out my first set visit for director Tom Holland's “We All Scream For Ice Cream” episode HERE); I did the exact same thing. Only this time, two hours later, I find myself staring face to demonic face with Candyman himself. A little out of breath from the jog, I take my seat next to Tony Todd, introduce myself, shake his hand…and pull it back smothered in blood. Tony smiles through some very impressive KNB-designed demon make-up and admits, quite proudly –
Todd: I just finished ripping a young lady apart!
I tell Tony that it is my honor to have his victim’s blood on me and, with only a few scant minutes to chat, we get started.
you’ve established yourself as one of the most prolific and
recognizable actors working in the genre today, what’s it like
being so admire by horror fans?
love it…I love it. I do about four conventions a year, and
that’s when it all comes into perspective man…I love horror.
You’ve got two-thousand fans waiting in line for you and they all
come with comments about your career and everything comes into
perspective…as opposed to the seventeen year old son that I’m
raising, who just asks why there’s no juice in the fridge.
just dad to him.
dad with a pocket-book! <laughs>
do you play in Valerie on the Stairs, and can you tell me a little
bit about your character?
the term for him in the script is The Beast but, there might be
another name for him that I can’t pronounce…you might want to
check with Mick on the exact pronunciation, it’s all Clive Barker,
he came up with the whole thing.
I feel like I look like a Clive Barker painting!
you really do!
(See the pic above
and you’ll agree)
don’t really want to give anything away so I’ll just say
that…The Beast is bad news for a few of the characters.
of Clive Barker, you’re probably most recognized for playing the
hook-handed Candyman but one of my personal favorite performances of
yours, and an Arrow in the Head fan favorite I’m sure, would have
to be that of Ben in Savini’s redux of Night of the Living Dead.
remember seeing the original Night of the Living Dead at the
drive-in theatre and being blown away! This whole cinema verite,
quasi-documentary style was just…wow, you know? Same
with Wes’ (Craven) Last House on the Left, you know…just brutal,
tough stuff. They were some powerful films and the start of a lot of
what we see today in horror films.
beat out some pretty talented gentlemen for the roll of Ben,
and Ving Rhames; how important was it to you that you got that part?
A part that, twenty-years earlier, proved to be incredibly
groundbreaking for Duane Jones, playing the first ever African
American hero in a horror film.
I was in Pittsburgh doing this show called Criminal Justice for HBO and I caught wind that Tom Savini was getting ready to do a remake of Night of the Living Dead and I thought, “Well fuck!” I mean I was already in Pittsburgh, I think I look a little like Duane Jones “Why aren’t I goin’ in for this?” - I kept thinking. So I literally just bogarted my way into the audition situation, nailed it, Tom was blown away and he made some phone calls to George Romero and…I was cast! It was amazing for me. It was my first lead role. There was also talk about me doing NEW JACK CITY around the same time but I wasn’t feeling it because I didn’t really want to play a drug dealer at that point.
of which, how important is it for you, as an African American actor
to play against type and transcend stereotyping, especially racial?
You have to. You’ve got to. That’s why I also write so, if things stop going the way I think they should go, I can just do my own shit. And I don’t want to repeat myself, I’ve made some mistakes. It was called Scarecrow. <laughs>
this point, the make-up girl that’s been stalking us from the
shadow of a camera-crane steps out and politely motions to Tony;
it’s time for him to go. I manage to squeeze in one last question,
the a-typical closer:
next for you after you wrap on Masters of Horror?
we’ve got to do some re-shoots on a film called House of Grimm for
about four days. Then there’s Tim Sullivan’s new one, The
eyes shift off me for a second and he nods to the make-up girl.
man. I’ve got to get going and get all this shit off me.
worries, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with JoBlo.com
and Arrow in the Head.
stands and shakes my hand again, slathering it in a fresh coat of
gore. I look down at my hand for a split-second to assess the damage
and when I look back up, he’s gone, nowhere in sight; just like
Keyser Soze “…and then he was gone!”
As I stand there, pondering the sudden disappearance of a six-foot-four inch black man in full-on demon make-up and wearing a bathrobe, I spot Unit Publicist Bill Vigars out of the corner of my eye, waving at me from a darkened doorway. I gather up my notes quickly and walk over to him. Bill ushers me through the doorway and up a flight of wooden stairs, “Recognize the place?” he asks.
I shake my head at him, letting my eyes take in the surrounding hallway as we both crest the staircase. “It’s a mock-up of one of our locations, one of the flea-bag hotels on the east-side” he tells me. I mention to Bill that, since kicking my rock-habit, I have little use for downtown East-side hotels. He calls me a smart-ass and stops me outside another doorway.
Bill fills me in on the day’s activities – what’s been shot so-far and how things are going – and he admits that Mick (Garris) doesn’t have a helluvalot of time to sit and talk today but has asked that I hang by his side all-the-same and pepper him with questions when opportunity permits. I tell Bill that this isn’t a problem and he tells me to go on inside and find Mick.
My interview with director Mick Garris up next!