You’ve seen him in a movie before. You just don’t know his name, yet.
His social media accounts are full of his friends gushing about the new film they spotted him in and his followers excitedly posting about spotting him on their living room screens. It make sense that they’re bound to see him on the big and small screens; New Orleans actor Martin Bradford has at least 30 credits to his name on IMDB’s database.
You’ve seen him before, too, you just didn’t know it was him. He’s been seen on FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven”, FOX Network’s “Scream Queens”, Tyler Perry’s live version of “The Passion” and Sony Pictures’ “Venom.” A sequel to what has become a cult classic, his latest release is Tales from the Hood 2.
Bradford sat down with us to talk about how he came into acting, and what’s next for the rising star:
When did you first start taking acting seriously?
Well, honestly, I always wanted to be an actor, ever since I was a kid. I always say all the best artists come from the church. The church will never boo you. The church will be like, “Take your time; you got it.” The elementary school I was at let me write the Christmas play in fourth grade. That’s important. People underestimate the importance of family, your circle. My whole life I was taking acting summer camp and courses in school. It was a thing that’s always been with me.
What was your first big thing where you were thought, Wow, I really might be “that actor guy”?
Honestly, the ‘that actor guy’ thing came from Dillard. I was always one of the leads in the plays… The main thing is people would see me at is the plays, and they’d be like, “Who is that actor guy?”
After graduating, I keep pushing and pushing for like a year and a half. I didn’t say no to anything. If you asked me to be in a play, I did it. Eventually I got an agent, and even after I got him, it took me like a year and a half to book anything. That’s what I want you to understand, nothing is overnight for anybody in this game because these steps and these dues you’ve got to pay are going to hit you regardless. After a year out of college and a year after having an agent, I booked “AHS: Coven” and I was working with Kathy Bates. I remember after, she asked me a question. She was like “You’re trained aren’t you? I can tell this isn’t your first rodeo.” After that, I was like, Oh yeah, because this is coming from a legend. Not too long after that, I got booked for an independent movie on Netflix, Nola Circus. So to get those two back to back was great. Once you get your first taste of it, you can’t let up.
How’d you get the ‘Bats’ moniker?
It almost started as a joke. All through elementary I was a big Batman fan. Going to McMain, I remember one Halloween I wore a sign to be funny on my shirt that said “I am Batman.” Then in high school, everybody used to rap, you know, and one time my friend called me Bats in a rap, and it just stuck. I just added to my whole name, even when I started spoken word in college and then when I started acting because you’re always trying to catch someone’s eye. They’ll look at my headshot and then see my name, and say, “What’s up with that ‘Bats’?'” And just you asking that has me on your mind longer.
You’re in “Tales from the Hood 2.” Did you ever watch the first one when you were a kid?
No, that’s whats funny. I got my audition for the second one, and I told all my friends I’ll watch the first one if I get picked for the second one. It was like a hood classic. As an adult, when I saw it, it’s now one of my favorite movies of all time. They flipped a concept in such a creative way that I’m mad at myself for not catching it sooner in part one. The horrors of that story was it was everyday things, not necessarily monsters. I think those are the worst horror stories.
Did you get to see Spike Lee or Keith David?
No! I wish! When I first started getting more into acting–when you really get into the game– you start earning more respect for the actors where you don’t know their name necessarily, but you see them everywhere. I looked up his IMDB, and this man has like 400 credits! So when I booked this, I was like, “Can I please meet this man?” But he shot all of his scenes in California.
What about on the set of “Venom”?
I don’t get starstruck on the people maybe others would. Like on “Venom”, I met Tom Hardy. I’m a big Tom Hardy fan… Mahershala Ali, I was ecstatic to meet him because I was a fan before he blew up. When that man won that Oscar, I thought I won an Oscar! So when I got booked in Green Book, I had to keep my composure. He’s a regular cool, down-to-earth dude. The biggest one I got excited for was the guy who played Sgt. Doakes (actor Erik King) on Dexter. When I met that actor, I was like whoa. Often times, it’s the characters that I fall in love with.
It’s Halloween time, is there something in the city that you have to go do?
I haven’t been to a haunted house in years. Halloween was my favorite as a kid. It goes back to acting. You get to dress up, be who you wanna be and you get candy? Man, come on! Last year, I was the Joker. I think for the next few years I’m going to be a different Batman character. This year I’m going to be Two-Face.
So what’s next for Martin Bradford?
New Orleans Film Festival. There’s a short film I’m in called “The Funeral Band.“ “Green Book,” that’s coming out on Thanksgiving in theaters everywhere but it’s having its premiere in New Orleans during the film festival. Then in March, I have a recurring role in “The Oath,” produced by 50 Cent, as a character who causes a bit of trouble, but he’s trying to get better. That’s going to be on Crackle, and that app is absolutely free. It’s got a whole bunch of free independent films and series.
How is 50 Cent?
(laughs) 50 Cent is exactly who you see on TV. Whatever it is you think he is, he’s that person. I learned a lot from just sitting with him. I had these colored contacts in, because I’m blind and my clear ones were lost. The first thing out of this man’s mouth was, ‘Aw man, you know you can’t trust a dude with light eyes, right?’ I was just looking like, damn, this is the first thing you’re telling me? He was really cool and gracious. This dude is mad approachable. You could be one of the staff or the crew, all the way to the top, you could talk to him. It was a real conversation; he was a really cool guy to meet.