In 1979, Detroit friends Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell raised $350,000 for their low-budget film, Evil Dead and the rest is history. Raimi, the director of the film, has gone on to direct all three blockbuster Spider-man films and Campbell, the star of Evil Dead, has become nothing short of a B-movie legend.
From scene stealing cameos in all three of Raimi’s Spider-man films to a hilarious series of Old Spice commercials that include him singing a lounge version of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” Campbell’s career is hotter than ever. Luckily, Campbell took a few brief moments from his hectic schedule shooting his new USA Network series Burn Notice to answer a few of our questions.
How tough was it to break into the business?
It took about a decade of hard work to “break in.” The unmotivated should stay away from show biz. It’s actually far too big of a story to answer in an interview, so I wrote a book. Check it out.
You have played a retail worker who travels back to medieval times to take on the undead with a shotgun, an elderly Elvis Presley who battles with a mummy who devours souls and a 19th century American spy on a Caribbean island who tries to thwart Napoleon’s colonizing efforts. Has there ever been a script that you read and thought, “This is too out there, even for me?”
Bubba Ho-Tep was close. It was the weirdest script I’d ever read, but there was an underlying sweetness that hooked me. I am attracted to off-kilter material, so I tend to be sympathetic toward that sort of offering.
In the Spider-man movie universe, exactly how many Bruce Campbell clones are running around New York? Is it some sort of evil plot hatched by one of the supervillians to have these sarcastic dopplegangers torment Peter Parker everywhere he goes?
There are as many clones as Sam Raimi desires. If he makes more Spideys, I’ll be happy to play. If he doesn’t, then my Spidey days are over.
With your scene-stealing cameos in all three Spider-man movies and your memorable Old Spice commercial singing “Hungry Like the Wolf,” it seems like you are getting a lot of mainstream attention these days. Do you see yourself pursuing more mainstream roles, perhaps even being cast as a lead in your own Sam Raimi directed summer blockbuster, or would you prefer to stick to your B-movie roots?
I don’t pursue a pre-planned agenda or any type of “genre.” I take stuff as it comes in and say yes or no based on about 10 different criteria, like script, experience of the director, scheduling, moola, etc.
For those unfamiliar with your latest project, Burn Notice, how would you describe the show and your character Sam Axe?
It’s not a boring-ass doctor show, cop show or lawyer show – enough reasons for anyone to check it out. It’s a smart show about a “burned” CIA operative who now has to ply his trade in the U.S., helping “little people.” I play a washed out ex-Navy seal who helps him out while I live off rich Miami women. Sounds fun, huh?
You have had memorable roles on a number of popular TV shows, including Xena: Warrior Princess, The X-Files and Homicide: Life on the Street. Are there any current television shows that you would like to have a guest appearance on (perhaps Lost, which Carlton Cuse, the creator/executive producer of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., works on)?
Again, I don’t long to work on any particular show or with anyone in particular. These days, I am more interested in developing my own material and having as much creative control over the process as possible. It’s a creative biz, so I run from stuff that doesn’t allow me to do my thing.
You have written two books, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor and Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way. What is the process like for you when you sit down and write?
I am a morning writer. I get up about five in the morning and write until around noon. My brain is fried by then, so I look for something physical to do, like mow the lawn.
You have a very devoted and rabid fan base. How often do fans approach you when you are out in public?
It all depends on where I go. Mostly on the street I’m left alone. I only get hassled at conventions, but that’s the place to be hassled, so no problem there. I’m pretty much Joe Citizen and take on daily biz like anyone else.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I have two acres of lavender on my Oregon property – and it smells pretty.
What would you be doing for a living if you never got into acting?
I would work in the woods, on land management issues.
Interviewed by Joel Murphy, June 2007. Burn Notice premieres tonight at 10 PM on the USA Network. For more information on Bruce Campbell, visit his official website. To read our feature on Evil Dead: The Musical, click here.