Tony Todd wields his hook as Candyman
Tony Todd returns as Candyman, the supernatural Chicago urban legend.

‘Candyman’ and the Many Roles of Tony Todd

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Six-foot-5 horror icon Tony Todd returned to the silver screen as the titular Candyman in Director Nia DaCosta’s sophomore feature film.

2021’s “Candyman” grossed 50 million worldwide since its release in late August.

DaCosta’s film comes nearly 30 years after the original “Candyman” debuted. Todd brought the bee-filled, hook-wielding Chicago urban legend to life, and reprised the role for all three sequels.

“The thing about ghosts. They never go away. And Candyman is a spiritual ghost,” said Todd in an interview with Singer Jake Hamilton. “He’s a ghost that belongs to the collective history and the collective nightmare of America.”

Born in 1954, Todd grew up in Connecticut, where his first love was theater.

After serving as a curtain puller in the play “The Curious Savage,” Todd secured the role of Van Helsing in Hartford High’s production of “Dracula.”

Todd earned a scholarship to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and honed his craft at the Hartman Theatre and Trinity Repertory Theatre.  

Following his move to New York in the early 1980s, Todd was discovered by Director Oliver Stone while performing the one-man, anti-war play “Johnny Got His Gun.”

Soon after, Todd traveled to the Philippines to play Sergeant Warren in Stone’s 1986 box office smash hit “Platoon.”

Todd’s first lead role came four years later with Tom Savini’s directorial debut “Night of the Living Dead,” a remake of the 1968 film of the same name.

Todd played the level-headed, zombie-killing hero Ben, a role originated by Black horror icon Duane Jones.

Jones’s Ben sets zombies ablaze while strategically keeping the hordes at bay in 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead,” as the de facto leader of a group of scared civilians—all of whom are white.

Todd took inspiration from Jones and found his portrayal of Ben refreshingly real compared to the “goody-goody” tokenized representation he grew up with.

“What happens if at the end of the world there’s only five people and three of them don’t look like you,” said Todd in an interview with “Kill Count” YouTuber James A Janisse. “And then we have to drop all of our pretenses and learn how to get along together for the good of the world.”

With 1992’s “Candyman,” Todd cemented his status as a bonafide horror icon. He scared his way into the heart of horror with recurring roles in long-running franchises, playing William Bludworth in “Final Destination” and Reverend Zombie in “Hatchet.”

Todd won’t be retiring his hook, or his trademark foreboding voice, anytime soon.

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