Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN was released just a couple of weeks ago on August 27th, 2021. The film is a sequel to the 1992 Candyman and takes place decades after the original. It’s filled with a star-studded cast, including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Vanessa Williams. Another star in the film is Rodney L. Jones III, who plays a teenaged William Burke (Colman Domingo plays the adult). Rodney’s portrayal and scenes move the film beyond mere hooked-slasher fare and he was kind enough to answer some questions about the process, character, and film!
Editor’s Note: If you haven’t seen the film yet, there are some spoilers featured in this interview.
How did you prepare for the character of William Burke?
Rodney L. Jones III: I prepared by doing some research. I read some old articles about life in the Cabrini Green projects, talked to my grandparents about what life was like in the 70s, and since I was living in Chicago at the time and my school was actually near the old Cabrini Green neighborhood I went and checked it out before filming as well.
Since you play the young William Burke, did you and Colman Domingo discuss the character?
Rodney L. Jones III: Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to meet Colman Domingo, but I’m glad to have shared the character with him. He’s a really talented actor! I got familiar with some of his work and just did my best to make sure I set up the character (William aka Billy) clearly so that he could carry him on to the finish line.
When it came to filming on set, was it collaborative and organic or were you mostly sticking to the script?
Rodney L. Jones III: I’d say it was a mix. I stuck with the script, but I was allowed to add some of my own little riffs. For example, dropping the candy when I see the cops during the laundry room scene. That was something I asked Nia if I could do. Then there were moments where we were filming and Nia would ask me to try things. It was definitely an open environment.
In the time that we do see you on screen, what scene do you think reflects William Burke the most?
Rodney L. Jones III: I would say the scene that reflects William the most is the scene in the laundromat. It’s a traumatic experience for him that defines his future. In that moment he becomes more aware and in a way becomes the author of this tale of Candyman.
What do you hope people take away from the movie and/or your character upon seeing CANDYMAN?
Rodney L. Jones III: Besides the bone-chilling horror, there’s a LOT of social, emotional, and economical narrative threads to unpack. So, watch it a few times!
Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN is currently playing in theaters, with news on its Digital release guaranteed to come shortly. To learn more about the film, check out our review!