Author: Steven Applebaum (Redstar)
August 27, 2010
The actor that portrays Toad is not really an actor at all. As Mojo Nixon puts it himself, “...I’m not really an actor. I was a drunk musician playing a drunk musician." Born Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. on August 2, 1957 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Mojo Nixon is most well-known as a mid-'80s to late-'90s psychobilly musician and cultural parodist.
He began acting with the poorly-received 1989 film Great Balls of Fire! with the minor role of James Van Eaton. His second role as the Spirit of Rock n' Roll in the 1990 film Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever was more prominent though the film itself minor and a limited release. It would not be until the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie that Mojo Nixon would become known to a new generation of fans through his character Toad.
Nixon explains in our August 15th exclusive interview that the role of Toad was originally planned for singer-songwriter and actor Tom Waits. However, Tom's asking price was too high for the role so Nixon was suggested as a "third rate Tom Waits" by extras casting director Lisa Mae Fincannon. Lisa knew Nixon through a documentary on several bands, including The Flat Duo Jets, that she had worked on. Nixon quotes Lisa as having said “...we gotta have Tom Waits for this role, but he wants too much money.” then “Well I can get you a third-rate Tom Waits—for half-price!”
Once the deal was set, Nixon arrived on-set midway through production after the director of photography had already been fired. At this point the turmoil of the movie's production was well beyond what Nixon had expected. He was only planned to work for four days but due to repeated retakes and the trouble with the special effects department Nixon stayed on-production for a month. After two weeks of shooting Nixon believed he was finished only to have a production assistant stop the plane he was taking back home. Nixon asked the kid “What were you going to do?” to which he replied, “I was gonna stand on the runway if I had to!”
When asked what he thought of the movie, Nixon simply said "Well, I thought I was good."
Mojo Nixon continued to act up until 2006 as a bartender in A Four Course Meal. While he had retired from music in the late '90s, Nixon is currently in a period known as "Unretired" brought on by the 2009 find of previously unreleased cassettes under his front porch. He also felt the need to become politically active to support friend Kinky Friedman's run for governor in 2006. Mojo Nixon can be reached for information on his music and acting on his website, MojoNixon.com.