Ken with an interview with Tony Todd, for his role in WORTH.
WORTH is a better than it has any right to be flick-written, directed and starring Eduardo Castrillo. It’s a low to the ground look at Ricky (Eduardo Castrillo) as he navigates through myriad c in his life all while competing for the belt in Muay Thai kickboxing. Tony plays Hunter, an old veteran staying in shape at the local gym. The acting was much better than I had anticipated and helped add an air of legitimacy to its extremely low budget. It’s not a masterpiece but it deals with some pretty amazing depth in an intimate fashion that feels authentic. If you enjoy the fight game, check it out.
Without further ado, Tony Todd!
Freddy Beans: Hey Tony, how you doing today?
Tony Todd: I’m doing good Fred, how you been?
FB: I’ve been doing great, thank you. To start it all off, thank you for speaking to me today, I appreciate your time.
TT: I appreciate your time. I know you guys have to be swamped with AVENGERS this week so thank you for squeezing me in.
FB: It’s a big year for geeks. The end of a 22 movie long, MARVEL storyline and STAR WARS ends this year too.
Can you tell us how you got involved in Eduardo Castrillo’s WORTH?
TT: I was working on another project with Miguel A. Nunez Jr. and he told me about it. I said give me the read. I really liked the material and the love it had for the fight game. Whenever I can, I like to split my time between big budget films and searching for young independent filmmakers and helping them get one step closer to their dream.
FB: You have proven that throughout your career Tony.
TT: I think, we have to. I think you have a responsibility as an artist to continually reach a hand out and try and inspire people. We need much more of that in today’s world.
FB: I love that. I agree.
TT: You know, I got my start in theater. Theater is my first love. I try to always go back to it, no longer than two years. When I do, I’m fully recharged. I feel more connected to my people. Then they send me Hollywood scripts, independent scripts and voice overs, giving me a larger creative choice. In theater everything is close and personal. You’d think in a movie, it would be but everyone is isolated in their trailers. You come out for food, services, your piece, in the film. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes in independent film there’s only a bag of Twizzlers or Frito’s. When looking into oblivion it’s best to navigate and get the best of all worlds.
FB: Wish more people understood that. So the big question is do you have any information on the CANDYMAN remake?
TT: I know that Jordan is working on his fourth draft of it. We’ve now had a conversation. We’ll see how it shakes out. I’m more confident than ever that the right thing will be done. I usually hate having blinders put on me but I think all will be good. Actually, the same thing with the FINAL DESTINATION reboot. I think it’s going to shape out into a very interesting year and then next year is when all these things would drop.
FB: That’s the fucking best news ever man! CANDYMAN by Clive Barker, is an iconic, non-mask wearing horror icon. I understand if they want to take it in a new direction, I just feel like you have to be included in some capacity.
TT: I think Jordan is a huge fan. He told me a story about how he once saw me with my kids when he was in New York City and he was too afraid to come up. I was like, “Why not? Ya know, I’m an open person.” He said, “I didn’t want to intrude on your family time.”
FB: Wow, that’s a great man and a rare breed this day and age (laughs)
TT: (laughs) Nothing is written in stone. I don’t’ want to give you false impressions. I’ll just say that I was wrapping up BULLET PROOF 2 when I got the call. To receive that call was a wonderful uplift. How about, we’ll talk again once the smoke has cleared?
FB: I would love that Tony! I have a friend Jaki who is a huge fan of your work. When she heard I was interviewing you she wanted to know if you were a true ‘Trekkie.’ Also, what was your favorite crew to work with and/or species to play in your many roles in STAR TREK?
TT: That’s pretty funny! (laughs) My favorite species. I was a ‘Trekkie’ growing up. I was raised and rescued by my aunt. We spent a lot of one-on-one time together either watching old movies or watching STAR TREK. The first role I had in STAR TREK is Kurn, a Klingon. That got the ball rolling. Gene Roddenberry mentioned that he loved us. He was so ahead of his time. Different species and people and somehow finding a way through war, to coexist. I’ve played four roles on STAR TREK. My favorite episode was “The Visitor” on DEEP SPACE NINE. The STAR TREK world is what created the whole convention world. I think it started for me in Vermont and cost 5 dollars to get in. The entire early Star Trek-Con experience was filled with people who loved the work and wanted to celebrate the actor in the show. I loved that! Something about the STAR TREK community that’s filled with warmth and humanity.
FB: Absolutely. It’s its own little cult that seems odd to the outsider but is all love. A lot like the horror community.
TT: Yeah, true. Maybe not as much humanity in the horror community? Horror fans love their icons and we exist through their charity and continual support.
FB: You had the honor of playing ‘Ben’ in the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) remake. It’s truly an iconic role while also being one of the first starring roles for an African American male lead. I was wondering if you were a fan of the George A. Romero original and if you could share your experience in the remake?
TT: Yes, of course. Duane Jones is a personal hero of mine. I remember seeing the original 1968 version in black and white in a live theater. It was in Connecticut, where I grew up. I was floored. It hit me like a documentary, full force. I’d never seen anything like that in film. I had an inkling that I wanted to be an actor at that point but seeing Duane Jones on the big screen acting larger than life. I knew there were opportunities for me. His inspiration is everlasting. It was jaw dropping. I remember talking with George A. Romero many years later and I asked him, “Why did you choose Duane? Was this written as an African American role?” He said “No, Duane was the best actor that came through the door.” Casting him it did create a racial connotation and the points were super charged.
Duane Jones 1937-1988
Working with Tom Savini, the idiot-savant of special effects, was incredible. People ask me all the time. What’s the secret to longevity? I’m like, make friends. Go on set without an attitude. Build bonds. Reach out and start collaborating. It has to come through the heart but also connect.
FB: Treat others as you would like to be treated. I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere. (laughs)
TT: Exactly. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of different directors. Michael Bay, Oliver Stone, Tom Savini. Too many to count.
FB: Shit, I think you’re over 200 movies in at this point. You must have a vast network.
TT: I guess I have 200 friends out there. (laughs)
FB: (laughs) I’m sure you have a lot more than that my friend. Your second film was PLATOON. That’s a heck of an entry into film. Can you share what that experience was like?
TT: I remember flying coach to the Philippines. We were just a motley collection of Los Angeles and New York based actors. We did three days in Manila in the Philippine jungles. An E-shuttle picked you up and took you home at night, for weeks. I had spent some time in the Boy Scouts. I was used to camping, so that didn’t’ phase me so much. I guess that’s why they made me a sergeant.
Every job has its own joys. If you don’t love this. If you don’t love what you’re doing. Then you should step aside and let the young blood come in. Working in film is a gift that keeps on giving. What you get depends on what you put into it. Give your all. Smile at people. Remember your lines. Don’t exhibit egotistical behavior.
FB: Fantastic advice, really in general. Not even solely in the movie industry, that’s just good general advice.
TT: I paid my dues. I worked in a factory once or twice before.
FB: What was your worst job? Did you have a shitty experience before getting into the business?
TT: Well it wasn’t shitty because it paid the bills and put money in my pocket. I worked for a place called the Kenmoore factory in Connecticut. I put in a year there. I put in a year working for ADT, back in the day too, before it was all computerized. I think every actor should have to go work some ‘real jobs’ to give them real life experiences. I was also a bartender in New York for 2 or 3 years before my big break came. All of these jobs, I used them to study people. When I worked with ADT, they knew I wanted to be an actor. I had the night shift and I would write all night long on these little pieces of paper that they had. I remember them saying, “uh, he must be a poet.” Dude, I’m just not going to be here forever. Don’t’ worry about me. (laughs)
FB: I think you’ve shown them.
TT: Yeah. Well, not to show them up. Just to show them that I believed in myself. It’s paid off. If you work twenty years in this industry, you’re set. I’m trying to see how long I can do it.
FB: Yeah, I didn’t mean, show them up. I meant show them what hard work and dedication to your craft can do.
TT: That’s the secret to it. You have to believe in yourself. People that I went to school with ask, “How did it happen to you? I don’t’ know the secret to that. I know it has to do with perseverance. It has to do with tenacity. When the moment comes, you better damn well be ready to seize it.
FB: I like that. Seize the day, my man.
You played Grange in THE CROW. He was such a quick whirlwind of an icon and then disappeared, unfortunately. I was wondering if there was anything you could share about working with Brandon Lee?
TT: Yeah man, Brandon Lee was a beautiful soul. We were all thrown together in Wilmington, North Carolina, within the same housing unit. I’m a basketball fan. When we get there it’s in the middle of March Madness and I wouldn’t leave my suite. After that, Brandon was like, “Hey man, why aren’t you coming to hang out with us?” He asked what was wrong. I explained my basketball addiction and finally I came down to the saloon. Then we spent every single night in there, playing pool, smoking cigarettes. It was something you did at the time. Feeling blessed we were all making a movie at the helm of Alex Proyas an Australian director. The bad thing about Brandon, was his fiancé was on the set the entire time. I always reflect on how that tragic event has affected her because they were going to get married, after the film finished. I will never forget his smile. Never forget that smile. He knew. He knew he was on the precipice of something really magnificent for him. I love how people still tell me that THE CROW is one of their favorite movies. I also love how there’s constant rumblings about it being remade and it always falls apart.
FB: I think they just killed a Jason Momoa/Corin Hardy version actually.
TT: Listen, I would love for James O’Barr (Comic writer) to get another payday for this idea but there’s something sacred about what we did. It’s hard to beat. We wouldn’t be here without James creating the character.
FB: It was really filmed in a unique style that hadn’t been seen before also. It is something that will be very hard to recreate. In this day and age of remakes galore I won’t say impossible but maybe unlikely. It was really more of an event, than a movie, in a lot of ways.
You were in WISHMASTER. Which was a cast of who’s who of horror icons at the time. Could you impart on me what it was like to work on that film and with that crew?
TT: It was great working with director Robert Kurtzman. Andy Divoff is a good friend of mine. I wish he would return to acting more. I remember a photo with Robert Englund, Kane Hodder and myself that was iconic for the time. I remember shooting my death scene. We had to do it twice. I wasn’t so thrilled about that. I spent a lot of time in that water tank. Which was a real water tank. I knew, shooting that sequence, that it would be remembered. I’m proud to be a part of that horror brand, Mt. Rushmore. We had a very similar vibe making Hatchet.
FB: I showed my kids that film a long time ago and they thought that was the coolest thing ever. I brought them up reading Fangoria’s and seeing what movies are all about.
TT: (laughs) I like you’re passing it on to your kids.
FB: There’s some questionable movies out there to share with the kids but HATCHET is just a good time in my opinion.
TT: I appreciate that. I meet fans of HATCHET, all the time. I’ve met folks as young as five to seven years old who are fans. I’m like, we weren’t making that movie to babysit people. It bothered me for a long time. I was talking to a friend and he said “Tony, relax! Anyone that sees HATCHET that young will remember it forever.” I guess there’s some value to that. (laughs) My kids didn’t’ see it when they were five to seven, though.
FB: That’s the role of the individual parent right. I was a bit conflicted when I showed them it at, I think 12 and 6. My kids loved it. Everyone seems to dig my kids and that reinforces my belief I have done no harm. (laughs)
TT: That’s all that matters. What they think of you as a father.
FB: I like that, I like that. Well, as long as they don’t’ go to prison.
TT: (laughs) No, never!
FB: (laughs) What’s your favorite horror movie Tony?
TT: Ever? Probably ROSEMARY’S BABY. I spent ten years in New York. I always used to go by Strawberry Fields in Central Park and The Dakota (Bramford Building). It was marvelous. It’s such a beautiful building. I love Mia Farrow. I love Ruth Gordon. I love Roman Polanski’s storytelling. It was haunting. Not gory. One of those movies that gets under your skin.
On the fun side, was ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTIN (1948). I’ve probably watched that movie more times than any other film ever.
FB: That’s a good one. It is fun too, nice shout out Tony!
TT: Yeah man, when I grew up that was an event. Now we have ten thousand choices. Then we were in school and we’d be like hey Abbott and Costello comes out at 3 o’clock. We’d all go home and watch it. Then go out and play and talk about it. And talk about it the next day in school.
FB: Yeah, I remember waiting I believe it was 3 ½ hours in line to watch E.T. I can’t explain to my kids what that was like. It was the only show in town. It was just a different time.
TT: Yeah, it was a different time. Everything wasn’t so immediate. I’m not sure which one is better.
FB: I’m not sure either. There’s advantages and disadvantages to both. Just like anything, right Tony? The world moves on whether we’re ready or not.
TT: Whether we’re ready or not. My daughter is my best friend now. She spent a year, when she didn’t speak to me. I hope you never have to go through something like that. After that, it’s been great.
FB: I risk the same. I’m in the tough love camp. The only way for that to be successful I feel, is to show your heart along with it. There’s varying degrees to all of it of course. I’m sorry you went through that, as a parent and I’m glad you guys reconnected.
TT: It was years ago. She was fourteen. She’s thirty now and we’ve been connected at the hip, ever since.
FB: That’s fucking awesome man. Family first, ya know?
What can our readers look forward to, from you next Tony?
TT: An art project I’m really excited about called, FINGERS. I’m teaming with a major network to put out a new documentary reality series that’s shooting in July. It will hopefully connect to a lot of fans but certainly horror fans. I’m happy and my calendar is filling up.
FB: Well, sounds like I’ll love it, so thank you for that. Maybe I’ll get to interview you again for that one?
TT: There you go, my friend.
FB: Thank you very much for your time today Tony.
TT: Thank you! Thank you, and please spread the word about WORTH.
Til next time Kids
Ken Lewis (Freddy Beans)
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org