Tony Todd - Actor, Producer, Director
Early in November, at the invitation of Matchflick Local Celebrity Diana Terranova, I left the safe confines of San Diego, jumped in my 2005 Chev Aveo, which I affectionately call my Clown Car, and headed North to La-La Land and to the Los Angeles Convention Center, and to the ComiKaze Expo, dubbed the Comic-Con of Los Angeles.
By comparison, it is significantly smaller than its Southern Cousin, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in heart.
But this is not an article about the Expo. That is for another column. I was on a mission, and that was to meet and speak to Tony Todd, whom I’ve dubbed "The Hardest Working Man in Horror," owning not one, but three horror franchises, the title character in the CANDYMAN series, William Bludworth in the FINAL DESTINATION series, and the Reverend Zombie in the HATCHET series.
I found Tony at the SUSHI GIRL booth promoting his latest project, where he stars as Duke, the leader of a band of very dangerous bad-asses, and also serves as its Executive Producer. He was at the booth, in his trademark fedora (when he’s not terrifying audiences), signing autographs and posing for pictures with his fans. One observation: for all the scary characters he’s portrayed, he is a very approachable man, and even small children, who are very intuitive of genuinely scary people, flocked around him to pose with him.
I was able to pull him away from his fans for this brief conversation:
Matchflick: Tony, thanks for this interview. I know you’re busy with your fans, so I’ll get right to the point: have you ever killed anyone? Zombies don’t count (referring to NIGHT of the LIVING DEAD; they’re already dead.)
Tony: You mean my characters?
Matchflick: Yes. In all your movies I’ve seen, I’ve never seen you kill anyone.
Tony: Maybe. (smiling) Oh, my characters. Oh, I’ve killed a few. In the movie SUSHI GIRL, only one person walks
Tony Battles the Zombies for Tom Savini
Matchflick: And your not really telling me who...
When we spoke previously, you had said that NIGHT of the LIVING DEAD was your inspiration to pursue acting.
That’s right, when I was in college, when I knew I wanted to go into acting. But I people were telling me that A: being an actor was tough enough, and that B: being an African-American actor would be even tougher. I grew up watching Sidney Poitier; then I went on Thanksgiving to a night screening at a drive-in to see NIGHT of the LIVING DEAD with the great Duane Jones! And I said to myself, "This is a sign!" And years later, when I got the chance to reprise the role, I knew it was destiny, if that makes any sense. I never doubted that I couldn’t be an actor, I don’t operate that way; I was raised by a super woman, my aunt, who inspired me and kept sending me off to school; I got my Masters; I taught play-writing for a while -
Matchflick: You taught for a while?
Tony: Yeah, for three years at the Hartford public school system in Providence, Rhode Island. I grew up in Connecticut.
Matchflick: Getting back to NIGHT of the LIVING DEAD, did you have any say in the changes to the original script, especially the ending (Ben, the character shared by Tony and Duane were both killed in the end; Duane was shot, mistaken for a zombie, but Tony was killed because he turned into a zombie)
Tony: No... Those changes were made by (Tom) Savini. I trust his decisions. He gave me my first big break (in NOTLD).
Matchflick: What was your first movie?
Tony: PLATOON (Tony played the drug addict Sergeant Warren)
Matchflick: I remember that movie...
Tony: I did a lot of theater in New York at the time; I did a one-man only play, and I was called in for an audition Saturday; Monday I had the job, and a week later I was in doing the movie. (It was an) incredible cast..
Matchflick: Unbelievable cast
Tony: Yeah - everybody in it was magical!
Matchflick: Tony - what scares
His Most Personal Performance
Tony: Intolerance, Racial Stupidity; that’s what scares me, but as an artist and as a diplomat, I travel a lot, and I get to see whole families come up to me, who I know would never have the opportunity to talk to me.
Matchflick: Tell me about your character in SUSHI GIRL.
Tony: In this movie, I’m supposed to be a sociopath. We’re at a table eating off a girl, kobe-style.
Matchflick: I can’t wait to see the movie..
Tony: Yeah, I am so excited about this movie, it’s the only reason I’m here instead of watching College Football!
Matchflick: Do you have a release date yet?
Tony: No, we don’t; we should be getting one very soon.
Matchflick: I wanted to ask you about your "Star Trek" characters. I loved all the characters you played on the series (Tony played Kurn, brother of Worf (Michael Dorn) on "Star Trek: the Next Generation" and on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," in my opinion, the best written series of all the Trek spinoffs, and as an Alpha Hirogen, a race of intergalactic "big-game" hunters on"Star Trek: Voyager".) But the one performance that I found the most powerful was the DS9 episodes called “The Visitor,” where you play an older Jake Sisko, son of Capt. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks). How did you land that episode?
Tony: The woman that raised me, passed six months before I got that part; she always there for me and cared for me, and I was able to channel that emotion for her into that performance.
Matchflick: It was a very emotional episode, a side of Tony Todd you rarely get to see on screen.
Tony: Well, I’m giving you the secret; she gave me this gift; she’ll always live for me through that performance.
With that, he turned his attention to his fans once more, teasing one fan to choose his favorite team, the Lakers, in the playoffs.
This writer came away from this conversation that despite the horrific characters he plays, Tony impresses me as a big kid,
enjoying the profession he has chosen as his life’s work, and very blessed for all the opportunities that he worked very hard to achieve.
what Can You Say? It's Me and Tony Todd!
Tony will appear as Duke in the film noir thriller, SUSHI GIRL. Much of the plot is very hush-hush, but it features an equally heavyweight cast: Noah Hathaway (The NEVERENDING STORY), James Duval (DONNIE DARKO), Andy Mackenzie (“Days of Our Lives”), Michael Biehn (GRINDHOUSE), Jeff Fahey (PLANET TERROR), Danny Trejo (MACHETE), Sonny Chiba (KILL BILL), and Mark Hamill (STAR WARS).
The Hardest Working Man in Horror” has a full plate aside from SUSHI GIRL. Now in various stages of production are (in no particular order: WRATH of JOB, SARA'S CELL, TARANTULA, 72 HOURS, EERIE, PA, HALLOW'S EVE, The WITCHING HOUR, DUST of WAR, NIGHT of the LIVING DEAD: ORIGINS 3D, A NIGHT at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER, CHANGING The GAME, FALLING AWAY, and CATALYTIC, which Tony will write, and will mark his directorial debut.
As soon as we get notice of a release dates, we’ll let you know on this website!
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This column will explore my taste in film. I watch all kinds of movies - all kinds - but likes science fiction/fantasy - action, animated, funny, even stupid. He will speak of his experience and his encounters with science fiction and the way it colors his - and our - everyday life.
Mike Thomas was introduced to science fiction when he first watched 2001 - A SPACE ODYSSEY, and was hooked ever since. But he doesn't just watch the gee-whiz, gollee-gee special effects. He watches the costumes quirks, evaluates the musical scores, even identifies favorite actors of directors. He collected comic book, but has moved on to weapons: he currently owns the Mj?llnir - the Hammer of Thor, Electra's Ninja Sai's, Mace Windu's Light Saber, and a couple of Batarangs.|
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