1428 Elm spoke with genre icon Tony Todd about the legacy of Candyman and his frequent collaborations with Shudder as of late, including the recent release of the Horror Noire anthology feature, a spinoff from the hugely successful Horror Noire documentary film highlighting Black horror icons and movies.
Todd also recently appeared in Shudder’s new Behind the Monsters docuseries in the episode discussing Candyman, from the original 1992 film to the recent 2021 continuation. Todd has appeared in all the movies in the franchise thus far.
Despite starring or lending his voice to an impressive number of projects over the years, Todd shows no signs of slowing down! Next, he’ll lend his vocal talents to Venom’s character in the upcoming Marvel Spider-Man video game sequel to Insomniac’s smash 2018 hit.
He’s also got several more films already filmed just waiting for release, so keep an eye out for projects like The Witching Hour, Night Night, The Oath, Hellblazers, and more. It was great talking to the actor about Candyman, his future in the video game industry and much more!
Tony Todd talks about Candyman’s legacy and Behind the Monsters
1428 ELM: When you first accepted the role of Candyman, did you have any sense of the impact the film would have, to the point that we’re still discussing this character decades later?
TONY TODD: I find it completely unbelievable. Most movies come and go. I’m talking big A-list movies because it wasn’t an A-list film. I’ve known big blockbusters come and go, and nobody talks about them.
But I think that’s part of the horror community. When horror fans love something, they will keep it alive; whether it’s through memorabilia—in Candyman‘s case, there are so many action figures I can’t keep track right now, that’s how many there are.
1428 ELM: I saw that you are voicing Venom in the upcoming Spider-Man video game sequel. How did that come about? The first game was amazing.
TONY TODD: Wasn’t it amazing? I’m a gamer, so when that call came in, I was ecstatic. I think it happened because I had done Zoom on The Flash, and I had done Darkseid for DC. It was a building of a body of work, and they just made an offer to me for that one, which broke the internet the day it was announced. I can’t wait to play it! It doesn’t come until 2023. It’s going to include the entire Spider-Man family, by the way, from Harry Osborn to Mary Jane, everybody.
1428 ELM: You’ve also collaborated with Shudder a few times between both Horror Noire films and now Behind the Monsters. What keeps you coming back to them?
TONY TODD: I think Shudder is a great cornucopia for love of horror and diversity in horror, which is established in the first documentary of Horror Noire. It was a breakthrough. I don’t think any of us who participated knew the impact it would have. That led to the anthology. Shudder is great. It’s not the only medium for horror fans out there, but it’s certainly fast becoming one of the biggest.
1428 ELM: I think the thing about the Horror Noire documentary and Behind the Monsters is they’re so interesting because really recruited people who are genuinely fans of the material they’re in since some actors just do it just to do it.
TONY TODD: I think whether we were all granted a job or not, we realized the importance of creating horror from an African-American point of view instead of being, you know, back in the day you’d have a Black character, and you’d know they were going to be dispatched of very quickly [Laughs]. But that narrative has changed now, particularly with the success of Monkeypaw.
1428 ELM: Jordan Peele has done some truly fantastic stuff over the years.
TONY TODD: Absolutely, and who saw that coming? Since he was known as a comedian.
1428 ELM: I feel like Get Out just opened so many doors.
TONY TODD: The combination—and I know it’s not necessarily horror but its fantasy—but the combination of Get Out and Black Panther, those just completely changed the landscape. When I started, I’d be cast, and I’d be the only African-American on the set, that would include the crew. So, things have definitely—as Curtis Mayfield once said: moving on up.
1428 ELM: Is it exciting for you to see Candyman, kind of getting a second life now, ironically, with this movie and being reintroduced to a new generation for people who didn’t grow up with the original one?
TONY TODD: Well, there is a whole lot of people that did grow up with the original one, but yes, you’re right. I think, how lucky am I that a new chapter is unfolding, you know, with the same name? I’ve been getting more requests for interviews than ever in my life. I think it’s wonderful. It’s thrilling, and I know it’s good for the fans.
1428 ELM: Would you be up for continuing the franchise if they decide to do another film down the line?
TONY TODD: Why wouldn’t I? I have enough other projects and enough diversity in other avenues, yeah I started the character, why wouldn’t I want to? As long as it is intelligent and doesn’t progress into the fiasco that was Candyman 3 originally [Laughs]. Please forgive me for that.
1428 ELM: When you got approached to do the new Candyman, what made you say, okay, this is the right script?
TONY TODD: Well, it was Jordan Peele, and I knew that he had a new take, not just on Black horror, but on horror, and I was actually filming something in South Africa, and he called me, and we talked for an hour about the concept and his appreciation of who I was.
He actually told me that we had met in New York City at a famous hotdog stand. And I said, “Well, why didn’t you come up and say hi?” And he said, “The very reason I want to do this film is your impact and your presence in that character was so magnificently intimidating,” and that’s his words, not mine.
1428 ELM: Do you feel like you’re more selective in the projects you do now?
TONY TODD: Oh, absolutely. We’re very selective, as a matter of fact, we turn down way more scripts than we take. We look for a beginning, middle and end, we look for a satisfying conclusion, and we look for a character that’s different from the last guy I played, or at least we try.
1428 ELM: You’ve got Behind the Monsters, Horror Noire and Candyman, those are all out right now, but what are some of your next big projects coming up?
TONY TODD: I just got booked in another video game that I can’t tell you, but they think it’s the biggest game ever. It involves travel, so next year I have to travel to like four different places around the world to shoot this. It’ll come out the same year that Spider-Man does, so maybe the next step is the king of video games [Laughs].
There are rumors out there about a Candyman game as well. It hasn’t fully formed, and I know there are also rumors of a Krill video game, which, if that happens, I would be involved in it. Being mocapped and put into the mainframe is a whole new element.
1428 ELM: You said you’re a gamer, what are some of the games you love?
TONY TODD: Right now, I just picked up Call of Duty: Vanguard. I’m a veteran, I did Call of Duty: Black Ops II. And I’m also doing in my sports mode, so NBA 2K and Madden NFL. But I’m diverse, I was a huge fan of Persona 5, which is completely different.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Behind the Monsters, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror and the new Horror Noire anthology feature are all now streaming on Shudder. You can stay up to date with what Tony Todd is doing next via his social media pages: Instagram and Twitter.