Tony Todd sat down with us to discuss his role in Final Destination 5. Does his character hold the secret to the entire franchise? We couldn’t let him off the hook without talking about Candyman and New England Patriots football.
DRC: Hey, guys. This is J.D. from Downrightcreepy.com and I’m currently on the phone with the legendary Tony Todd. How’s it going, man?
TT: I’m great, man. Going to talk to your constituency, huh? Downrightcreepy?
DRC: Yeah, absolutely. It’s good to have you on the phone and it’s good to get a little information about Final Destination 5. It comes out next weekend. Can you tell us a little bit about your character and how he fits in the film in general?
TT: I think he fits well. (Laughs) It’s our fifth film in ten years and who would’ve thought it would’ve been a successful franchise? My character is William Bludworth. He started out as a mortician and has since become a coroner. And every film appearance he has been in he seems to add a little solace and constellation to the inevitable conclusion of death.
DRC: It seems in the trailer that he may know a little bit more than he leads on.
TT: He always did. He always did. People get it twisted. People have come up to me over the years and said, “Oh, he’s Death,” or “Oh, he’s the Grim Reaper,” or “He’s the angel of death” and the answer to all those questions is “No.” That’s not who he is. I know who he is, but that will be revealed when it’s ready to be revealed.
DRC: Right, absolutely. What can fans expect from Final Destination 5 that we maybe haven’t seen in the previous four installments?
TT: Well, I think it’s definitely the best 3D adoption applied to horror films. Director Steve Quale was James Cameron’s visual director on Avatar, so he knows what he’s doing with that. This was my first time working on a 3D film and the difference from the acting point of view is that it takes forever to shoot. You literally do two pages a day, as opposed to five pages a day on a Michael Bay movie that’s not 3D, or ten pages a day on that fast and independent movie where you’re just knocking out story and content and character. So, the first twenty minutes is a sequence on a suspension bridge which took five weeks to shoot.
DRC: Alright. Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of user reviews and they said the 3D is absolutely excellent in this movie, so…
TT: Oh, so they’re starting to trickle out a little bit, huh?
DRC: Yeah, they’re trickling out. I’ve seen a couple. Now, moving on, in 1992 the world, the horror world, was blessed with one of the greatest movies of all-time in my opinion, Candyman.
TT: Thank you.
DRC: It was one of the first horror movies my mom let me watch and it scared the shit out of me.
TT: (Laughs) That’s great. That’s wonderful.
DRC: There’s a scene in the movie when Virginia Madsen is getting in her car, you guys are in a parking garage, and you call out to her. The camera cuts to you, and you’re in this very ominous, mysterious pose. Your arms are crossed, your head is towards the sky. Very almost demonic. I was wondering how much of that was directed, and how much of that was improv on your part to kind of give that feeling of eeriness.
TT: Well, by the time we got to that sequence…it was actually the very first…no, it wasn’t, it was the second major shot for the film. We had already spent a lot of time together. The reason I got that job was because I was doing a film in Africa with James Earl Jones and the director took one look at me and said, “That’s my guy.” The only thing between me and getting the job was a thing called The Personality Test. And that basically means fifteen or sixteen executives are going to make a decision that is going to change your life. I failed, but Bernard (Bernard Rose – director of Candyman) backed me up. And then there I was. Then we spent weeks in Chicago, hanging out, getting to know each other, listening to blues, talking talking talking. The best film work is when you have this energy between director, content, and actor. Then Virginia (Virginia Madsen – lead role in Candyman) and I spent some time doing horseback riding, ballroom dancing. I spent time with everybody. So, by the time we got to that parking lot thing, I’d been living with him (Bernard Rose) for about five weeks in Chicago. And it was a test for me because he said, “You are who he is.” And with my theater background I just knew, I learned early on to find out how a character walks, to find out how a character stands, and everything else will flow. And that little tilt thing in the head – it just happened. As soon as…the way it was lit…and where we were…that’s who he was, because, ya know, his mission was to get her to accept him and he’s not sure.
DRC: That’s amazing, man. Yeah, it was a great scene. One of my favorite scenes in a horror movie of all-time. It’s so subtle, but yet it’s just so effective.
TT: It’s been talked about quite a bit. Even the false Candyman appearance. So, all I have to do is just be there.
DRC: Right. Now, along those lines, you said the director mentioned that the Candyman is you, you’re the Candyman, just go ahead and do what you think the character would do. Along those lines, would you support a Candyman remake or reboot? Now, they’re remaking everything nowadays, so I didn’t know if you’d ever support that. And would you want to don the hook again, or would you want to pass the torch kind of like Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) did?
TT: There’s been talk of a Candyman remake for almost ten years now. One of the problems, why it hasn’t been done, is that three different companies own the rights. Nobody can seem to get on the same page. Maybe up to five years ago I was obsessed with being able to do it again. I made sure I worked out every day and kept myself ready. All of a sudden, I realized that, you know what, no matter if it’s remade or rebooted, I stand by the first one, at least. I stand by it. It will forever rule. So, they can do what they want. Even if they do reboot it or remake it, I’m going to get accessory benefits, you know what I’m saying? People are going to go back and watch it again, so I’m good.
DRC: Okay. I just don’t see anyone replacing you as the Candyman. I know a lot of people say that with Robert Englund and Freddy Krueger, but I cannot see anybody giving the same eeriness effect that you gave to the character. It’d be very, very strange.
TT: They can do what they want, you know? I’ve heard many different versions. The latest rumor was that they were going to go back to Liverpool and do it with an Englishman. That was what they were saying two years ago.
DRC: Hmmm. (Laughs) I don’t know about that. We’ll see.
TT: The beauty of it was that it was transposed in Chicago, and it became an urban myth.
DRC: Right. Exactly.
TT: And the role cannot be rapped either, so…
DRC: (Laughs) You’re exactly right. Now, besides Candyman, obviously, who, out of the iconic villains, such as Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, who would you say is your favorite?
TT: Out of the other three?
DRC: Just in general. Leatherface…
TT: I know all of them. We all hang out. So I can’t, ya know, come on now.
DRC: (Laughs) Right, right.
TT: I’m going to go outside the box. I’m going to say Chucky.
DRC: Chucky? Okay. You don’t have to worry about pissing him off, I guess.
TT: Yeah, you left him out.
DRC: (Laughs) That’s funny.
TT: At one point…the last thing that was thrown at me, was a Candyman vs. Leprechaun movie, okay?
DRC: Oh, wow. Yeah. (Laughs)
TT: It’s ridiculous.
DRC: The Leprechaun is more of a comedy nowadays, I think.
TT: Yeah. What are we shooting, a five minute short?
DRC: (Laughs) That’s pretty ridiculous. I’m glad you turned that down.
TT: I had to. I like the character too much.
DRC: Exactly. Now, you do a lot of horror conventions, is that correct?
TT: Some years I do, some years I don’t.
DRC: We had Danielle Harris on the phone sometime last year around Halloween and she told us a pretty horrific story that happened to her at a horror convention. Do you have any interesting stories about obsessed fans, anything like that?
TT: Well, yeah I do. It’s something that recently happened to me. I was down in Houston, Texas and it was a Sunday, the last day of the convention, and I watched this woman slowly come towards me, and she weighed about 370 pounds without stopping at KFC. I knew something was up because she had on bright yellow sunglasses. She came plodding up – plodding, I use that word – with flip flops, and she walks up to me and says, “Todd, I want to show you something.” I had to brace myself. She then proceeded to put her foot up on my table and lifted her sundress. There, on the inside of her right thigh, was a big old tattoo of my face as Candyman.
DRC: Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s uh…(laughs)…definitely an obsessed fan.
TT: I said, “What?!? Put that away, okay?”
DRC: That’s uh…wow.
TT: It creeped me out for two weeks.
DRC: It’s hard to creep out the Candyman, but that will definitely do it.
TT: That creeped me out because that’s just too much.
DRC: That’s insane.
DRC: Now, I read recently, and this is kind of off the horror topic, but I read that you’re a big New England Patriots fan. Is that correct?
TT: Yeah! How’d you know that?
DRC: I read an interview that you recently did about Final Destination 5 and you mentioned the Patriots in that interview. Now, my question to you is, after the NFL lockout…now, I’m a big Kansas City Chiefs fan, and we recently obtained your former General Manager, Scott Pioli.
TT: Yea, you raided someone else from us, too.
DRC: (Laughs) Yeah, Matt Cassel! But, my question to you is how do you think the Patriots are looking after the NFL lockout?
TT: We got Haynesworth. We got Ochocinco. What do you mean? What’s not to like?
DRC: Are you psyched about this year?
TT: A. I’m excited that football is back and that I have a team to support, because, without that, considering where we are as a country right now, politically and economically, we need football.
DRC: I totally agree.
TT: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!?!
DRC: (Laughs) I completely agree with you.
TT: We need those territorial rivalries and those little mini-wars on Sundays. We need that.
DRC: Alright, man. I have one more question for you, then I’ll let you go.
TT: Are you in Kansas City right now?
DRC: I’m in the Kansas City area.
TT: I love me some Kansas City barbeque.
DRC: Oh, yeah. Gate’s Barbeque, man. That’s the greatest barbeque in the world.
TT: It’s the City of Fountains, isn’t it?
DRC: Yes. City of Fountains, correct.
TT: I love that little city. Last time I went to see the Jazz Museum and the Negro League Museum.
DRC: Yeah, it’s great. Too bad we can’t be the City of Good Sports, but ya know, whatever. One last question here. We at Downrightcreepy.com, anytime we have somebody on the phone doing an interview, or in person, we always ask them a creepy question. Try to creep out the horror icons. My creepy question to you is this: Would you ever be willing to rent an apartment with me in Cabrini-Green?
TT: (Five seconds of awkward silence) And who’s going to watch you when you have to go out and get a pack of smokes?
DRC: (Laughs) That’s a very good point. Well, my boss told me to ask you that, and I think renting an apartment in Cabrini-Green with the Candyman is a death wish anyway, so…
TT: Only for one of us. I would be elected mayor. That’s why it’s no longer around.
DRC: Well, hey man I appreciate it. Thank you very much for your time. I wish you luck on Final Destination 5. And I do hear that if it does well, we will see at least two more installments, is that correct?
TT: That’s what I hear.
DRC: That’s going to be excellent. I appreciate it. Have a good day. Take care, man.
TT: Yeah, you too. It was good talking to you.
DRC: Thanks, a lot.
Final Destination cheats death on August 12, 2012.