Most people know Tony Todd from his role in the iconic horror film, “Candyman.” What many people don’t realize is he is a classically trained stage actor who has appeared in movies directed by men such as Oliver Stone and Clint Eastwood. While appearing at Comicpalooza 2011, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Tony Todd and he made it clear he was more interested in talking about the future instead of a history everyone already knows.
Shawn S. Lealos: I’d like to talk quickly about “Unbroken.” There is very little on the Internet about it and the “Unbroken” website only says “coming soon.” What can you tell me about this movie?
Tony Todd: When I first got that job, it was an unsolicited inquiry. I read the script and loved it. Paul Moore is a friend of mine and he is the director. What I have done in the last year or so was become friends with people I work with. It’s like the relationship John Huston and Humphrey Bogart had. I’ve got that with about five different directors now but it’s not a calculated thing. It’s more of natural friendships and it means we can help each other.
“Unbroken” was going to be shot in a small town in Virginia, they met our price ‘” it was a fair price, it was not my normal price but it was fair for five days work. It was shot in a dilapidated church. Basically, I am an exorcist, who travels from place to place, fixing up churches, introducing the new congregation and moving on. Even though I am a man of the cloth, I don’t have commitments. When I come to this Virginia church, I know and the church knows this is my final stop. “Unbroken” refers to a man’s last mettle, his test of faith. And, it’s a ghost story. It’s not horror in the sense of someone being slashed and it’s not a thriller, it’s a ghost story.
Shawn S. Lealos: Let’s talk about “Sushi Girl.” You have compared it to “Reservoir Dogs.”
Tony Todd: “Sushi Girl,” is my pet project that I am executive producer on. It’s going to be very hot, it’s sizzling, and has nothing horrific in it. It is the study of civility. With my character, and I really tried to dig deep for this, I wanted to present a complete and utter sociopath. This man dresses in the finest suits, smokes Cuban cigars. But I’ll like you one minute and as soon as you do anything, I’ll lose it. It can be from blowing your brains out to taking a hammer and breaking your little finger.
The rest of my crew is a motley crew. We are all specialists in torture of various degrees. So, by the end of the movie, only one person survives. Who do you think that will be? The movie is filled with things like ”¹…”is mercy killing that happens a murder?’ When mercy killing is done, does the person who does it really believe they are doing a person a favor? They’re not.
Shawn S. Lealos: You mentioned the eclectic cast, Mark Hamill, Sonny Chiba, Danny Trejo —
Tony Todd: Sonny Chiba!
Shawn S. Lealos: It seems like it is full of genre favorites, like “The Expendables.”
Tony Todd: Yeah, but we didn’t start it out that way. The story stands on its own and would do just as well with unknowns. It’s a hell of a story and I was the first actor to fall into place. The director is a newcomer named Kern Saxton. He has a June 8 deadline and we have an inside shot at the Venice Film Festival and we also have a shot at the Toronto Film Festival.
Shawn S. Lealos: You mentioned that more than anything you want to be a director. Are you looking at directing your own scripts?
Tony Todd: Ideally, I would like to do something I wrote first but recently some things have happened where I may give up the project I had originally written for me to direct, turning it over to one of those directors I told you I have a relationship with. Instead I may end up directing something that is not a great project but is not a horrible project. It just needs some fixing and I’ll be more of a mechanic, working it out. It will give me that credit I need to get the next project.
Shawn S. Lealos: Are you hoping this will eventually lead you to your passion project about a musician —
Tony Todd: Sam Cooke.
Shawn S. Lealos: Are you hoping this will open the doors for you to direct that project?
Tony Todd: Well, sure, three or four films down the line when I prove I can make money for them. I’m a history buff and there are all kinds of forgotten chapters of American history to be uncovered. I’m not interested in the commercial, I don’t want to make “Fast and Furious,” I want to tell the truth.
Tony Todd was a gracious guest and was open to talking with any fans who approached him at Comicpalooza 2011. While he understands that his fame rests with his iconic past, he is excited to look forward to his future projects and look at the roads that lie ahead. With “Sushi Girl” on the horizon and the start of his directorial career imminent, the future looks very bright for the man known worldwide as Candyman.