William Tokarksy is having a hell of a week following his breakout role as the menacing killer in "Too Many Cooks." We chatted with Tokarsky — who, in real life, speaks in an incredibly gentle southern drawl — about what the production was like, the reactions he’s received, and how to rock a Members Only jacket ... covered in blood.
How did you get involved with "Too Many Cooks?"
When I first retired, I started working as an extra in some TV shows and movies. Atlanta’s the growing movie/TV capital of the South now, and one of the shows I did was for Adult Swim — a little show called Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell. Casper Kelly [the creator of "Too Many Cooks"] is one of the creators and directors of that and we got to be friends working on set. They liked my look and asked me to audition for the "Too Many Cooks" role.
How was the role described to you?
Well, the role was originally described as a “scary man.” Just a “scary man in the background” sort of thing. Not until we actually started shooting did I understand the full scope of what was going on. To be perfectly honest, I never really put it all together until I saw the final product. Guerrilla filmmaking at its best.
What was it like on set?
It was very busy and very active, but it was unlike a lot of SAG shoots that I’ve worked. It was a family shoot, where everyone’s helping everybody else. The good part is if anyone had input, they would listen to it. Now, whether they used it in the final product, that was up to Casper, but he would entertain from anyone, whether it was the wardrobe lady or one of the actors or his assistant directors. It was an open, friendly family more than a strict, disciplined set. I think it shows in the little short. If you look at it, everyone was having a good time in the process.
What is it like to have to threaten someone with a machete?
[Laughs.] Well, the movements were pretty much all laid out, and you would take direction as far as how menacing or how sneaky or however. And they would shoot more than one variation of something and then pick from what they’d done.
Like in the shots in the beginning, where you just have to sit around in the background …
Right, exactly. Those were confusing to me. "Why am I just here?" That was the big surprise when I watched it. In fact, I missed some of my appearances until I watched it the second or third time — and I was there for the filming!
I had that, where I thought the first time I spotted you was about two minutes in, but it turns out you appear in the first 20 seconds or something.
Yes, exactly! And that was the same thing with me!
Did you have any input on your wardrobe?
Everything was mine with the exception of the sweater. It was basically, “Bring something that’s ’80s-looking.” I had that ’80s Members Only jacket, and they liked it. They found that sweater — it was warm — to wear under it. It really gives it a distinct look.
So are you going to wear that outfit out in public anymore?
It’s strange. Someone called me about going to a comic-book convention. They’ll supply a room and I can sell pictures. I passed on that, but if Adult Swim had something where they wanted me to show up and do an interview and talk to people, I’d probably take out the Members Only jacket.
There’s an improv comedy troupe here in Atlanta called Dad’s Garage, and quite a few of the people that were involved in "Too Many Cooks" came from that particular background. They’re in the process of inviting me to go do one of their comedy shows and just show up impromptu in the back with a machete and do my routine from "Too Many Cooks."
Yeah, that sounds great!
I think that’ll be fun. I haven’t put that together yet. That was just a little conversation over Facebook between a couple of people that I met on the show. But, yes, there are a lot of cute little things that could come out of it, I’m sure.
What’s your favorite part of the short?
The space part, where we did the take-off on the Battlestar Galactica/Star Trek kind of things, where they cloned me into a small army, marching with machetes. I liked that one a lot. It was a little green-screen work, and then they did their movie magic.
How many times have you watched it?
At least ten times. And I’m not done yet! I’m gonna watch it forever. The song is just … It’s an earworm! You can’t get it out of your head once you start watching it, once you start listening to it. I think it’s gonna show up in other places. I’m waiting for Saturday Night Live to play it in the background.
It’s certainly got a lot of staying power.
Yes, I think so. When I first did this, my wife asked me, “So, what are you doing?” and I said “Darling, this thing is either gonna stink or it’s gonna go viral.” I watched the first release at 4 a.m., and I wasn’t sure whether it would go viral or not because I’m not the audience that they’re aimed at. But I looked at the internet and at some people that I had told to watch — and they loved it. So, it was like, Yep, this thing’s gonna go! And it just surprised me how fast it went.
Yeah, it really took off. What was your wife’s reaction to it?
It’s very reserved. She’s not crazy about it, but she doesn’t dislike it. She understands it’s acting. Since I’ve retired, I’ve done a little bit of acting beyond just extra work, and she encourages me. But this one would not be the type of thing that she would watch if I wasn’t there. Let’s put it that way.
But my nephews — I’m now the most favored uncle there ever was! The 25-year-old, 30-year-old crowd. I mean, they’re just having a ball with this.