Crawley-born actor hits the big screen in Wonka
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It’s a remarkable double – and next year Todd will complete the hat-trick when the film version of Wicked hits the big screen. But for the moment, it’s all eyes on Wonka, though – and Todd is predicting that Wonka will be every bit as big as Barbie: “It's a prequel and it's a beautiful imaginative Christmas family film. They've done a really beautiful job on it. It's an iconic film with Gene Wilder in the original that everybody loves but they have taken a lot of care to continue the legacy. It is escapism and it brings out the child in all of us but the main message is a lovely one about sharing and the joy that you get from sharing and from generosity and what it gives to us all. It is a film that gives you a very, very warm feeling at the end.
“I was quite surprised by just how popular Barbie was over the summer and just how massive it was. I heard from quite a number of old friends I hadn't spoken to for a while who saw me in it… ‘Oh my God, it’s Todd!’ And that was lovely. It felt very special and I was very grateful for the opportunity.”
And now comes Wonka – though actually Wonka was filmed the winter before Barbie: “It has taken a long time for it to be released. They wanted it to be a big Christmas family film and it wasn't ready last Christmas, I think. There was still more work that they needed to do.
“I started on it in October 2021 at Warner Brothers, the same place I did Barbie. And I was there for five months in Watford on and off. It was during Covid times, at least the tail end of Covid when we were allowed to do a bit more. But we were still having to test every day and we had to self-distance. We could not sit in groups of people and we had to wear masks until we were in action on set. But we were just all grateful for the work. To be working at that time was wonderful when it was just so tough for everybody. Just to be working was a gift and if it meant that we just had to be a bit more careful in order to be safe, then we were certainly all happy with that.
“I'm one of the ensemble. I got cast as one of the dancers, one of the core ensemble that live in the town. I'm a waiter in a cafe and I'm also playing one of the villagers in one scene. And I also got to fly. One of the chocolates that Wonka gives out enables people to fly and I got the chance to do that! I don't actually speak, the same as in Barbie. As I say, I was cast as a dancer and didn't have any lines but there I am. I was there on set and I was in the film. We went to Leicester Square on Sunday for the cast and crew screening and we just couldn't believe it's two years since we filmed it. It seems quite a long time but the anticipation was high and it was really good to see everybody again and to catch up on what we've all been doing.”
As for what happens next: “I'm just back to auditioning really which is part of the job. It has gone a bit quiet but we did have the filming strike but really it's just a question of the more experience you have, the more employable you are and you just have to keep trying. There's been nothing happening in the film industry for the last six months because of the strike but I do think that now it is slowly getting back. I don't really have anything in the pipeline at the moment, but as I say that's just part of the job.”
The reward has been Barbie and Wonka: “It has been incredible. I feel really blessed and really lucky but I know I've worked hard. I've been putting myself out there and there have been many times in my career where I've nearly given up. It's a very competitive industry. It's certainly not an easy career but you just keep going and you just keep positive and you just keep strong and you just keep hoping, and these two films have been great encouragement.”