Tony Todd was fortunate enough to land two good roles on Star Trek; one as Kurn, the brother of Worf, and the other as an older version of Jake in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s The Visitor.
The role of older Jake in The Visitor was special and even in grief, Todd recognized that. “The story behind my doing it is that the woman who raised me, my aunt, was a single woman, and she’d passed away at the beautiful age of eighty-two. I’d just finished Candyman 2 and it devastated me because she was a person I talked to every day. Fortunately, she was able to see some of the beginnings of my success. But I was in a state of shock and I wasn’t able to work for four months.
“They sent me the script for The Visitor. It wasn’t a complete offer, but they sent it for my consideration and wanted me to come in and see them. So it was the role that got me up off the bed, out of the house, and into the producers’ office. When I went in, I saw a lot of actors who I felt were of the age and who were people I respected. But I went in and I got it. So that was sort of my homage to the parental figure in my life that I loved and cherished.”
Cirroc Lofton had wanted to play the role himself, but wasn’t old enough to pull off the role of the older man. “I know when I saw [Lofton] on set (at the time) the very first thing he said was that he wanted to do it. That’s youthful bliss, but the producers convinced him that he, unfortunately at the time, didn’t have the age or gravity to pull off the older character’s life experience stuff. He got that.”
After The Visitor aired, Todd discovered the good side of the Internet, when the reviews and comments starting arriving. “The Visitor changed my life, not just in terms of convention appearances, but at the time that episode was done the Internet was just exploding and I remember sitting for hours just basking in the glow of the love that was being written about that single episode,” said Todd.
Todd also played Kurn, bother of Worf and credits Michael Dorn with making it easy for him to portray his brother.
“The good thing about my whole Trek association was that I’d auditioned several times before I landed Kurn,” said Todd. “I knew they wanted me and they knew I wanted to be a part of the show. I don’t think anybody really knew how big it was going to be. I got the job the same day I auditioned. I was literally walking off the Paramount lot and the casting director came running after me. It was one of those Hollywood moments.
“By the time I got to the set, everybody – Michael, Patrick (Stewart), Jonathan (Frakes) and Wil (Wheaton) – made me feel completely at ease. Michael and I just locked into each other very quickly, and he was happy to finally have an extension of who he was represented. It was just very easy and comfortable. I gave him respect and we had a lot of commonality in terms of people we’d worked with, and we were able to go from there.”