This week’s W.Y.O.S.T. subject is Tony Todd. Warning: If you haven’t seen Tony Todd in at least 5 roles in the past two decades, you’ve probably been in a coma. Consult your doctor. Okay, here’s a hint … he’s friggin CANDYMAN! Which is just one of well over 100 roles he’s played, across the spectrum, from sci-fi to drama to horror to comedy to … whatever Cop Rock is considered.
Tony Todd started his acting career on the stage, then in the 80s, made a name for himself in high-profile movies like Platoon, Bird, Colors, and Lean on Me, as well as one-shot parts on assorted TV shows — Simon & Simon, 21 Jump Street, Kate & Allie, Night Court, MacGyver, and yes … Cop Rock. Then in 1990, he began an ongoing relationship with the sci-fi/horror universe when he played the lead role of Ben in George Romero’s remake of Night of the Living Dead … which is probably the first time he landed on my radar. A hardcore fan of the original movie, I was very happy with the remake, and from that point on, it seemed as if I saw Todd everywhere. After all, at 6’5″ and with that deep distinctive voice, he’s kind of hard to miss.
Not long after Night of the Living Dead was released, Todd was initiated into the Star Trek universe, when he portrayed Worf’s Klingon brother Kurn for several episodes on The Next Generation — a role he would reprise some years later on Deep Space Nine. But it probably wasn’t until 1992 that the world in general became aware of Tony Todd, when he played the title “slasher” character in Clive Barker’s horror flick Candyman — another role he would reprise, in both the 1995 and 1999 sequels. After this, along with some mainstream projects, his sci-fi/horror gigs quickly stacked up. He had one-shot roles in The Crow, The X-Files, Deep Space Nine (both as Kurn and as the adult Jake Sisko), Beastmaster 3, Xena, Hercules, Babylon 5, Angel, Smallville, Andromeda, and Charmed. He was in all three Final Destination movies. He returned to the Star Trek franchise in 1998 with a recurring role as the Alpha Hirogen in Voyager, and played Lord Haikon in several episodes of Stargate SG-1in 2005-06. And I’m probably missing some things.
Last year, Todd landed himself a regular role as CIA Director Graham on the NBC “spy comedy with a sci-fi premise” TV series, Chuck. So far, we’ve only ever seen him on a computer monitor, but hey, a regular gig is a regular gig. And who knows how they might use him in the future. But the TV role hasn’t diminished his box office ambitions one bit. 2008 and 2009 will see him in no less than NINE movies, and next year, he’ll be returning to his zombie roots with a lead role in the movie adaptation of the popular indy comic book series Escape of the Living Dead.
I’ve read interviews with Tony Todd, and heard a few second-hand accounts of him, and as far as I can tell, he seems like a great guy. He regularly attends the conventions, happily signs autographs and poses for pictures, and is extremely grateful to the fans who have helped him get where he is today.
Learn more about Tony Todd …