The Candyman Star Is All Over Star Trek, See Who He Played
Tony Todd of Candyman fame played three of Star Trek's most memorable roles, including that of Kurn - the brother of Michael Dorn's Worf.
Over the years Star Trek has built up a long list of actors who they keep bringing back for new roles, but few have had quite as much impact as the parts assumed by Tony Todd. First landing a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Candyman star went on to play two more roles in the franchise including in one of the most heartbreaking episodes to ever air on TV. It just so happens it was that second role that may have saved Todd’s career.
Tony Todd Played Worf’s Long Lost Brother
The Star Trek role Tony Todd was first tapped for was the Klingon officer Kurn on The Next Generation who, it turns out, is on the Enterprise for something other than an officer exchange program. Kurn, we soon discover in “Sins of the Father,” is the only living immediately family member of Worf (Michael Dorn) — Worf’s younger brother, who the older Klingon never knew he had.
With Kurn comes a number of story elements that would echo throughout the Trek franchise. He seeks out his brother with the news that their late father is being framed by the rival Duras (Patrick Massett) for betraying the Klingons to the Romulans. To save both his brother and the Empire, Worf is forced to accept discommendation–a ritual expulsion from Klingon society.
Kurn proves to be not only the Star Trek role Tony Todd assumed for the longest, but the only one to appear on more than one series in the franchise. After “Sins of the Father,” Kurn shows up again in the TNG two-parter “Redemption” which sees Worf and his family once again accepted into the Empire. But instead of TNG, Kurn’s final appearance is in Season 4 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
When Michael Dorn joined the lead cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he did so in a way that made Tony Todd’s appearance as Kurn inevitable. In the Season 4 premiere, Worf goes against the wishes of Klingon Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) and in doing so loses all status and property in the Klingon Empire. And so later in Season 4, in “Sons of Mogh,” a drunk and suicidal Kurn shows up on DS9 begging his brother to kill him to erase his dishonor.
Kurn’s final appearance is both sad and bizarre. Apparently seeing no other choice, Worf has Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) erase his brother’s memory, and convinces an old friend of his father’s to lie to Kurn and tell him he’s someone else. It’s not only a strange solution–as well as nearly unthinkable that Dr. Bashir would agree to it–but it gets even more awkward when you consider Worf is later welcomed back into the Empire with open arms, and yet there’s no indication he makes any attempt to restore his brother’s memory.
Playing Jake Sisko Changed Tony Todd’s Life
He may have only played the character once, but when Star Trek made the wise decision to cast Tony Todd as an older version of Jake Sisko in Deep Space Nine‘s “The Visitor,” the actor had the chance to make a much bigger emotional impact than he ever had as Kurn. The episode is beloved by fans, and is often counted among the series’ best, including on IMDb where it’s currently rated as the third best Deep Space Nine episode.
Early in “The Visitor,” it appears that Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks) has died in an accident aboard the Defiant. Instead, it turns out he’s been temporally tethered to Jake. Todd plays Jake in his older years, after he finally returns to Earth to become a writer before discovering that at increasing intervals, his father will briefly reappear before him, having only experienced a short amount of time while for Jake years have passed.
The Star Trek episode ends with Tony Todd’s Jake as an old man, making a heartbreaking decision to save his father.
Speaking to StarTrek.com in 2010, Tony Todd said the script for “The Visitor” arrived at exactly the right time. He said his aunt, who had raised him, died around the time he finished filming 1995’s Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. He explained that the shock and grief of the loss left him unable to work for four months.
Receiving the script for “The Visitor” was what motivated Todd to get back to work. “So it was the role that got me up off the bed, out of the house, and into the producers’ office,” Todd explained.
Todd’s Final Star Trek Role Was His Most Physically Demanding
Star Trek: Voyager would not go without its own Tony Todd appearance. In the Season 4 episode “Prey” he plays one of recurring villains the Hirogen — a species obsessed with hunting. Known simply as the Alpha Hirogen, Todd and his fellow Hirogen make the unwise choice of hunting a member of Species 8472: aliens so powerful even the Borg fear them.
Todd told StarTrek.com playing the Hirogen was, up to that point in 2010, “the most uncomfortable stint” as far as prosthetics was concerned. He said the makeup took 4 hours, with another hour and a half to apply the costume.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where someone has to tell you to give them notice 20 minutes before you had to pee,” Todd told his interviewer. “It’s hard to pee on demand.”