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The actor beloved from the EVIL DEAD films had a man-to-fan
chat with Fango about his projects back in 2008. As for 2011, Campbell will be
returning for another season of BURN NOTICE this summer and voices a vehicle in
the upcoming CARS 2.
Bruce Campbell is a living dichotomy. If you know of the
actor and his diverse body of work, then you’re a fan of the most extreme kind.
His followers are tolerant and loyal—forgiving sometimes, even, and Campbell
certainly doesn’t have the kind of base that deserts him when he delves into
something new. He is a movie hero, television icon, author, producer, activist
and director. However, what’s probably most important is, like his devotees, he
is also tolerant and loyal: tolerant of his status in the business, yet
remaining confidently loyal to himself. And those are important qualities when
you make your living in Hollywood, even if Oregon is your home. Because in
order to survive, one must be adept at the art of adapting to a constantly
changing set of situations.
Campbell is drawn to playing characters that define the
quirkiness of the everyday man. He could be your cousin, your good-hearted
neighbor or just that guy who does stuff. FANGORIA recently had the opportunity
to discuss his two latest projects. The first is the spy series BURN NOTICE,
currently in its second season on the USA Network. The main character, Michael
Westen (played somewhat reservedly by Jeffrey Donovan), is an ex-CIA agent who
has been given the titular missive, which is similar to what one would receive
if one ever left a woman at the altar: You can never go back, not for anything.
Campbell co-stars as Sam Axe, a washed-out ex-Navy SEAL who tends to squander
his meager government pension on beer and women.
We also explored MY NAME IS BRUCE, a feature film that hits
theaters this fall, which stars Campbell (who also directed) as himself and
spoofs the reality that has become his life. It spotlights an aspect of his
career that certain buffs don’t seem to understand: Campbell doesn’t actually
work at S-Mart, and he doesn’t know how to kill zombies or demons. Or does he?
That’s what a group of small-town residents find out when call upon the actor
for help when their burg is invaded by supernatural nasties.
FANGORIA: You play an ex-Navy SEAL in BURN NOTICE, but Sam
Axe seems to be a natural role for you. Is he a challenging character to
BRUCE CAMPBELL: Acting is supposed to be fun. If it isn’t,
then it becomes challenging. So Sam is a fun character to play, because when
you think about it, even high-end government types with top-secret clearances
are prone to the same foibles as anyone else. Everyone’s human—we all make
mistakes. I like characters with a human side, albeit a flawed side.
FANG: Is this because you tend not to take yourself so
seriously, that your characters are sometimes aloof in nature?
CAMPBELL: Aloof is your word. I tend to go for off-kilter,
FANG: You’re also an experienced director with nearly a
dozen TV credits. If you get the chance to direct any BURN NOTICE episodes,
CAMPBELL: I’m not gonna pursue that. I like being second
fiddle. I’ll direct on the side. TV is also too much of a “shared” directing
experience. I’m too bossy for it. I like to be in control whenever possible as
a director; otherwise, you’re just directing traffic.
FANG: I know that you consider television more relaxed and
fun than movies. Do you find projects like BURN NOTICE more satisfying than
CAMPBELL: I like the pace of TV. A lot gets done in the
course of shooting eight and a half to nine pages per day. Features are cool,
but the expensive ones take too damn long to make.
FANG: Will “They’re just a bunch of bitchy little girls”
become your new “This is my boomstick” catchphrase?
CAMPBELL: That’s for the pundits. My job as an actor is to
deliver those cleverly written lines without screwing up.
FANG: It’s surprising that you didn’t write MY NAME IS BRUCE
yourself; how was Mark (TIMECOP) Verheiden chosen?
CAMPBELL: Mike Richardson [with whom Campbell produced the
film] and Mark Verheiden are old pals; they worked on THE MASK together. They
pitched the idea, Mark wrote the script, then I made it my own from there.
FANG: In the trailer, you live in a single-wide mobile home.
Isn’t it really a double-wide trailer that you live in, and you’re just being
CAMPBELL: Congratulations—that’s the most extemporaneous
question of the year!
FANG: How close is the MY NAME Bruce to the real Bruce?
CAMPBELL: No matter how I answer that question, I’m screwed.
If I say I’m much brighter and funnier and taller than the Bruce in the movie,
then surely you’d think I was lying. If I say that I’m much dumber and more
arrogant in person, you’d take it as fact. So, the answer is: very close, yet
FANG: What’s the death count of the townsfolk in MY NAME IS
CAMPBELL: I believe we killed about 15 or so townies—if you
include those murdered by Bruce himself.
FANG: What is more appealing to you? Playing you or being
CAMPBELL: I enjoy being Bruce, but nothing beats being him
and playing him at the same time. Making MY NAME IS BRUCE was actually a very
strange, parallel-universe experience for me, because I was portraying a version
of myself that was terrifying on a personal level. It was like looking in a
mirror and seeing a really shitty version of myself grinning back, knowingly…
FANG: Have you finally mastered the B-movie with this
CAMPBELL: Hey, I just hope that folks like it more than MAN
WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN! I took a few licks on that one, so I’ll be happy with
a little redemption.
FANG: What is the future of indie films such as MY NAME IS
CAMPBELL: The future of independent films will be what
filmmakers make it. If they’re lazy, and don’t give a crap about entertaining
the audience, then we’re in for a dry spell. If filmmakers get off their doughy
asses and do their level best to entertain paying customers, we’ll have
something worth watching.
FANG: You spoke about the independent movie scene on DINNER
FOR FIVE. Is MY NAME IS BRUCE a real indie movie?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, it’s an indie, in that it was not financed
by a studio, and we weren’t assigned a release date—we had to create one
FANG: That’s great inspiration for we “outer fringe”
filmmakers. And now for the big question: Is MY NAME IS BRUCE going to be the
catalyst for an EVIL DEAD 4, and what role will you have with the announced
remake of EVIL DEAD?
CAMPBELL: MY NAME IS BRUCE will have no impact on the EVIL
DEAD films. There are currently no remake or sequels planned, so there isn’t
much to talk about.
FANG: Are you, by chance, a Charles Bukowski fan? Have you
read any of his work?
CAMPBELL: Sorry, been too drunkenly belligerent to read it…
FANG: You and your wife, Ida, have produced a documentary
regarding land stewardship. Has it been screened at any film festivals?
CAMPBELL: It’s still a work in progress. We’re finishing it
FANG: Finally, a deep question for you. You’ve said that
seeing your father act when you were a child was a great inspiration for you.
Is he still?
CAMPBELL: He is. Charles Newton Campbell passed in 2004, but
he still inspires, because he was my first “patron.”
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