Versatile actor Camden Toy is also an accomplished film editor and writer best known as one of the "Gentlemen" from the beloved Joss Whedon series "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" in the classic episode "Hush."
Before eventually making the move out west to Hollywood Camden helped to found NADA as the Artistic Director and Obie winner in New York City. In addition to performing in and writing five different solo theater plays, Camden has also acted in over 100 independent films.
However what has brought Camden the most recognition is his performance in both Joss Whedon's series, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Angel", he has the distinction of being the only actor to play 4 different villains. After playing one of the Gentlemen he returned in the seventh season to play the Gnarl demon, fond of eating skin and also recurring as the Ubervamp, Turok-Han. Camden also made his Angel debut as the Prince Of Lies in Season 5.
In the field of film editor, Camden re-cut director and make-up artist Rob Hall's film "Lightning Bug", the pair were also reunited on CFQ Film's "All Souls Day: Dia De Los Muertos" where Camden played a host of dead characters once again flexing his acting muscles
Film & Video
Immortally Yours - Henry
Outta Sync - Dogsbody
Over Breakfast (short) - Editor
All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos - Fresh Dead/Dead Raoul
Irascible (short) - Gabby, Editor, Producer
Zen Noir - Editor
Lightning Bug - Additional Editor
The Works - Janitor
Deeper Mark (short) - Editor
Backgammon - TV Announcer
My Chorus (short) - Dr. Fred
Faith - Mailman
Angel: The Series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Having just wrapped "Immortally Yours" back in Ohio Camden was gracious enough to give us the skinny on his latest projects and past experiences.
EZ: Right off the bat, why acting?
CT: Wow! Well, I grew up in a theatrical family. My father had been an actor and make-up artist. I think I was around six years old when I first found my father’s make-up kit in the basement and started playing with it. And instead of my father getting angry that I was in his stuff, he asked me if I would like him to show me how to use the make-up. So he and I would sit in front of my mother’s dressing mirror and apply old age make-up, beards, putty noses, scares, etc… It was an incredible experience. It was my first real taste of the power of transformational make-up, and I have to say, I really fell in love with it. And of course I still have a great love for.
Then when I was in third grade, my father asked if I’d like to start taking acting lessons. So I started studying acting at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in third grade and in fourth grade I was put into a Shakespeare class. I was in way over my head, but it really gave me an appreciation of language that I still cherish to this day.
I was also extremely lucky to have lived in one of those small rural towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania that just by luck had a summer theatre that was run by three producers from New York City. So every summer this group of actors, writers, directors, designers and producers would come to town and I was just mesmerized. It was called The Apple Hill Playhouse and my family befriended the producers so they let me kind of just hang out at the theatre. So that’s pretty much where I lived every summer from about the age of nine to fourteen. I acted in a few small roles here and there, but unfortunately, there weren’t that many parts for a kid my age. But what I learned first hand about theatre was amazing. I learned about scripts, rehearsing, lighting, set design, set
construction, and how to take a set down in one night and have another set up and really to go in just a few days. This was an incredibly ambious theatre company, they were doing a different play every week, all summer long. And of course I saw lots and lots of plays. It was such a magical world. And like I said, it’s where I spent every summer.
EZ: Can you give us some of the Pros and Cons about acting behind latex.
CT: One of the big pros of acting under latex (the UberVamp make-up was mostly silicon, and Gnarl’s make-up was mostly gelatin) is that you can really fully lose yourself under the make-up and really give yourself to this creation. In some ways it actually makes my job as the actor easier. It frees me up to more fully embody the role. You look in the mirror and it’s like, “Wow, how would this person move and speak and think?” A lot of these questions are more easily answered.
The biggest con of acting under prosthetic make-up is that no one recognizes you. Now I know that sounds a bit ego driven, (and perhaps in some ways it is) but this is a business of recognition, so I find that a lot of people in the business kind of discount your acting work when it’s under make-up. As if gee “if you act in make-up, you can’t act out of make-up!” I don’t mean that to sound like sour grapes, but unfortunately we have a lot of people in this business that need to but you as an actor in one small little box.
EZ: How did you meet Joss Whedon?
CT: It was when I was first called in to audition for “Hush”. When I got to the audition I was told by the casting director Lonnie Hamerman that there were no sides and that it was going to be an improv. So I went into the audition and Lonnie and Joss were the only other people in the room. Usually when you go direct to producers like this there are anywhere between five to a dozen people in the room to watch your audition. So I do the improv by pretending to float in, do a little heart cutting, and then float out. All the time doing the killer smile. At which point Joss gets this funny look on his face and goes, “thank you, God that was frightening, I’m going to have nightmares tonight.” And as I’m saying my thank you and goodbyes, I’m thinking, “well, I
either got the job or he thinks I’m a total psycho!” (Or both!) I got the call the next day that I got the job.
EZ: Can you recall what was your best and worse experience during filming of Buffy and Angel?
CT: One of my fondest memories on Buffy, was one late night as we were shooting one of the episodes with the UberVamp, they had brought in a second late night meal of fried chicken and all the fixings. And Sarah Michelle Gellar came over to me and said, “you know there’s dinner over at craft service.” Well, I was in the UberVamp make-up with teeth in and these huge hands on with long finger nails, and I thanked her for telling me, but I told her that I’d have to get it later, because I was standing by to shoot a scene. And she said, “no, if you don’t get it now it’ll all be gone, I’ve seen this happen!” So she grabbed my hand and took me over there and literally served me a plate of food, that we then hid on set until I was finished with the scene and I
could get out of the teeth and hands. It was incredibly sweet of her.
And one of my worst experiences on Buffy was when we were shooting a scene where I had to be pulled out of frame on a wire when I was playing Gnarl. We rehearsed it, and all seemed to be going well. But when we went to shoot it, they ended up pulling the wire a little faster then we had rehearsed it and I ended up hitting my head on a pipe up in the rafters of the set. I didn’t really get hurt, it was a mild bump, but I was a little startled at the time. It’s kind of funny now, but at the time it was a bit of a surprise. And a number of people on set were really freaked out.
EZ: Of the four different villains you played on Buffy and Angel which would you say you had the best time playing. Which was your least favorite or hardest?
CT: Well, my favorite hands down I would have to say was Gnarl, because, no pun intended, there was a lot of meat to sink my teeth into with that role. Jane Espenson had written this amazing character, and I knew right from the moment I first looked at the sides for the audition for Gnarl that that character was going to be something really special. Plus look at what Almost Human created with the make-up and body suit for him. Wow! And those teeth, yeah baby! And I got to do all my own fighting, stunts and wirework. It’s funny, first being known on BUFFY for playing one of the Gentlemen, a lot of people would ask me who did the voice for Gnarl. Just to set the record straight, it was my voice, and I recorded all the dialogue on set while I was wearing those amazing
teeth. Later I was told by one of the producers that that is unusual, that when actors wear teeth on the show that they almost always have to ADR some, if not all of the dialogue.
As for my least favorite, well, not so much least favorite as the hardest, was the UberVamp. Even though I had an amazing stunt double Ryan Watson, I still had to learn all the fight choreography, which really took me to the physical limit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing it. I have training in seven different martial arts. But I’m not what you’d call a martial artist, I just play one on TV. It was also real tricky to find the right balance for the UberVamp between, lap dog to The First, and totally becoming The Tasmania Devil. Even though he’s not exactly what you’d call a subtle character, there were a lot of subtleties
involved with his portrayal. Which since they were not obvious at first, it took a bit of doing to find them. There weren’t a lot of clues in the script about how to play the UberVamp, plus, as you know he was a totally non-verbal character.
EZ: Are you finding time to edit these days?
CT: Funny you should ask, I just got a call from Marc Rosenbush the director of the feature film ZEN NOIR that I edited four years ago. He wanted to do a little recutting on the trailer and also do some tweaking on the opening and closing credits.
Early last year I helped Robert Hall recut his film LIGHTNING BUG, (which is now available on DVD, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it,) and I also helped supervise the picture finish and final sound mix. I love editing. It’s where I get to play all the characters in the film.
EZ: How did you find yourself working as the undead on All Souls Day?
CT: I got a call from my friends over at Almost Human. They said that they had this film coming up where there was going to be an immense number of Living Dead characters. I think they knew that since there were going to be so many zombies in this film that the producers were going to most likely cast most of them out of a pool of extras. And that Almost Human wanted someone that they knew who could bring these characters to life since so often even experienced actors often don’t know how to bring to life a character in prosthetic make-up. As it turned out I ended up playing five different zombies.
EZ: As you played a number of characters how did you approach each of them to keep it fresh for yourself and different for the audience?
CT: Well I try and find the physicality, how would this specific character walk, move? Was it fresh dead or in the ground a while? Male or Female? And also, who the character is going after has a lot to do specifically with what they are like and who they are.
EZ: You do a number of conventions throughout the year, what makes you to continue to hit the road time and time again.
CT: I love meeting the fans up close and personal. After all, it’s they who make it possible for me to even have a job. So it’s my way of giving back and being of service. My way of saying thank you.
EZ: Ever had any scary experiences with over zealous fans?
CT: Unfortunately, at some of the conventions, things are so close and intimate that I will once in a while get caught in the crossfire of a pissing match between two or more fans, and let me tell you, that is not pleasant.
EZ: Are you preparing any solo performances for the future?
CT: I have a few ideas filtering around in my subconscious. I would love to do a solo show on the life of Buffalo Bill Cody.
EZ: How do you prepare for a given role?
CT: Oh my god, that’s a really broad question. Well, I try and stay open and let the role tell me what it specifically needs. And honestly, a well written role will tell you what it needs, you just have to be open to it and listen. Although there are the roles that can sometimes be an enigma. It’s a little like what Bruce Lee said about his technique for fighting. “My style is, I have no style.” I think I’m quoting him right. Anyway, he would let every fight, every opponent tell him what he needed to know. Well, I try and approach my acting in a similar manor. I let the role tell me. It’s a lot about not slamming doors shut on any possibilities. I know there’s the cliché of the actor who says, “Oh, my character wouldn’t do that!” Well I say bullshit,
we are all capable of doing just about anything under the right circumstances. My job is to find those circumstances. Plus it helps if you have the right shoes!
EZ: What has been your favorite project to date and why?
CT: Hands down it was a theatrical production I did back in New York with Tiny Mythic Theatre Company called “A”. It was a carnival adulteration of Nathanial Hawthorn’s book “The Scarlet Letter”. I played Roger Chillingworth, and wow, what an amazing character that was. The play took place over a period of about seven years, and as the time goes on, I’m becoming more and more decrepit and crippled because I have this demon called “Revenge” eating away at my insides. It was a large cast, around twenty-five actors. We performed it at the Ohio Theatre on Wooster Street, right up the street from the Wooster Group. New York is such a fabulous place to do theatre.
EZ: Favorite films you have seen so far this year?
CT: My all time favorite film, that I just rented for the umpteenth time recently is “Once Upon A Time In The West”. I never grow tired of that film. I just saw Victor Salva’s “Peaceful Warrior” which I though had a lot of heart, not to mention the wonderful editing that my friend Ed Marx did on it. Though, I guess I’m a little biased.
EZ: Emmy pics for this year?
CT: I recently saw two back to back episodes of “Weeds.” Here again, pardon the pun, but I was really blown away by it. Also, “Deadwood” always makes me want to come back for more. I love the way the show incorporates the archaic, poetic, almost Shakespearian language with this dirty, gritty day to day life of the people it portrays.
EZ: What are you currently reading?
CT: I go through periods where I read all the time, and then very little. I’m kind of in the latter at the moment. But I’ve been picking up Stephen King’s “On Writing” which I’m really enjoying. On a recent trip I took to The Netherlands to do a signing convention called Dutch Star Con, a fan gave me a book called “The Undutchables” which is extremely funny and clever.
EZ: What’s on your Ipod or what are you listening to these days.
CT: Well I’m a little behind the times, I don’t have an Ipod. I love jazz, almost anything that Pink puts out, and the band The Red Elvises, are great.
EZ: What are you currently working on that we can look forward to?
CT: I just shot two films that I think you should definitely be on the look out for. One is a horror film called “Sin-Jin Smyth,” and the other is a romance/horror/thriller vampire movie called “Immortally Yours.” We shot “Sin-Jin Smyth” here in Los Angeles and “Immortally Yours” was shot in Ohio. Neither one has been released yet, but in the meantime, check them out on IMDB, they both have great casts.
EZ: What currently on television holds your interest?
CT: I have to admit, even though I love acting in television, I don’t watch a huge amount of it. I was such a huge television addict as a kid that I really have to limit my amount of time in front of “the tube” otherwise I’d never get anything done. “Battlestar Galactica” is one hell of a show. All the CSI shows are quite good.
EZ: Can you comment on the current state of the business?
CT: Well, like many actors, one of the things that really gets to me is the amount of television and film projects that are being shot in Canada. I understand that we are now in a global economy, and that these companies have to keep their stock holders happy, but I have to tell you that I can’t help but think that U.S. companies that insist on shooting out of the country are in fact traitors to not only our industry, but to our country as well. (Gosh, do I sound like I’m doing a little flag waving here?)
EZ: If you had the opportunity to work with anyone in the business who would it be and why?
CT: Geoffrey Rush. He never seems to hit a false note. I love his work!
EZ: If you had any superpower…
CT: I’m fascinated with flying.
EZ: Can you name any childhood heroes you have?
CT: Harry Cauley who was one of the producers and the director of Apple Hill Playhouse was a major influence on my life growing up. Lon Chaney Sr., Dick Smith, David Warner’s work on the film “Morgan.”
EZ: What is something about you that we would never guess?
CT: I used to be the chef/owner of a French restaurant.
EZ: Can you name a guilty pleasure?
CT: Joseph Schmidt’s chocolates. Particularly his Slicks and his dark chocolate turtles. Oh and his chocolate mint leaves as well.
EZ: If you had one wish what would it be?
CT: That we as a human race would stop killing ourselves and each other.
EZ: Favorite Midnite snack.
CT: Mango Ice cream.
EZ: What television show would you like to see comeback.
CT: “Secret Agent.”
EZ: If you were given the chance to act in any show which would it be.
CT: I’d love to play a deep undercover narcotics detective on “The Shield.”
EZ: Lastly, with or without butter? (popcorn)
CT: With butter, but not too much!