How The Bee Scene In Candyman Earned Tony Todd A Large Payout

Bernard Rose's "Candyman" released 30 years ago, is a new-age horror legend — a specter of Black trauma haunting the Cabrini-Green neighborhood in Chicago. Tony Todd approached this role with elegance and with a large amount of responsibility, avoiding caricature in playing a mythological villain with a tragic past rooted in the horrors of American slavery.

Candyman's name was once Daniel Robitaille, a painter from the 1800s who was murdered after having romantic relations with a white, wealthy landowner's daughter; his sawed-off hand and death by bee stings manifesting into his ghastly form. Once a man, now a martyr and urban legend who haunts Cabrini-Green with his hook for a hand, mutilated body, and endless swarm of bees. 

Tony Todd revealed in a retrospective with The Guardian that he fully embraced that playing this character authentically meant enduring physical pain — so Todd negotiated a large bonus for every bee sting he received filming the bee sequence between Helen (Virginia Madsen) and Candyman.

Tony Todd recieved a $1,000 bonus for every bee sting

An essential element that separates the Candyman from horror's legacy of racist caricatures is his fascinating amount of eroticism. This comes to an apex in the bee scene, in which Candyman intimately sends a swarm of bees towards Helen's face from his mouth after exposing the decaying torso underneath his clothing.

"Everything that's worth making has to involve some sort of pain," Todd told The Guardian. "Once I realized it was an important part of who Candyman was, I embraced it. It was like putting on a beautiful coat."

Pain was surely felt, as the bee scene was almost completely accomplished with practical effects. The crew used over 200,000 real honeybees on set, with everyone who wasn't onscreen wearing bodysuits to protect themselves from stings. Todd wore a protective mouthpiece, but it still took over half of an hour for the bees to be completely extracted from his body. Real hypnosis was used by Bernard Rose to calm down Virginia Madsen and deepen the authenticity of her performance.

"I negotiated a bonus of $1,000 for every sting during the bee scene," Todd recounted. "And I got stung 23 times."

It's a tough industry out there, so while Todd has gotten the recognition and praise he deserves for his portrayal of Candyman, we're glad he was properly compensated for all of his physical pains as well.