Gadfly: So youre
Bruce Campbell: Im
the king of the B movie, what does that make you in A
In stunt casting, they
say, "Lets get the guy whos in those B movies
in our A movie. But lets just make sure we give
him a small part."
So they usually
know who you are?
It depends. Ive had
directors who have hired me because theyre fans.
But other times you have to break down the doors; they
have no idea who you are. You have to show them. Within
the entertainment business, its a sort of concentric
series of circles of people who know each other. Sometimes
its a no-brainer; the director says, "I want to
put you in the movie." They call my agent and BOOM. Other
times, I might get a call from my agent saying that theres
a script out there you might want to look at. I go for
it, but there is no way Ill get it.
situation was it that allowed you to get involved with
the new Jim Carrey movie, The Majestic?
The director, Frank Darabont,
knew who I was. He has deep horror roots. [Darabont wrote
Tales from the Crypt, The Blob and A Nightmare
on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors]. The Majestic
has someone directing a B movie in it. So he figured
I could star in the B movie within his A movie. So I continue
to star in B movies.
Do you really
recommend that people take a similar route that you did
to becoming an actor?
I recommend that people
read the book. Its there as a primer for filmmakers
if they want it. Its just an idea to give them an
idea of what we did. Thats what we did; its
not necessarily the right way to go about it. We made
a lot of mistakes. If a wannabe actor wants to read it,
hopefully hell read it with a realistic eye of what
its all about, at least from my point of view. Some
actors go to Hollywood and bang, theyre Bruce Willis.
Other actors have to slug it out.
It seems like
a lot of actors are relatives of other actors or directors.
You cant fight that.
Thats classic nepotism. You cant blame a guy
for wanting to use his brother.
You lobbied hard
for the lead role in the movie The Phantom, which
went to Billy Zane. Were you glad when it bombed?
Im not a hah-hah
kind of guy. I was happy that I dodged a bullet. I was
like, wooh, Im glad I didnt get it.
I think it would
have been better if you had done it.
That doesnt mean
it would have made any money, though. Then it would have
been even worse; I had no net loss. Because when you audition
for something and dont get it, its not a big
deal. But if you get it and it doesnt work, theres
more introspection. Then the studio would have said, "See,
we shouldnt have cast this nobody. From now on,
only movie stars." Thats kind of what it is now.
I just saw Oceans Eleven last night. Good
Christ, how can you compare with that? Its not fair.
I know exactly why Julia Roberts is in that movie. Because
[Steven] Soderbergh went, "I could get her; shell
do it for me." Then the next thing you know, George Clooney
calls his pals.
Even the role
that would have gone to an unknown, like the Matt Damon
Of course, that would have
been generic actor 28-E. But they got Matt Damon. The
only one they couldnt get was Ben Affleck so they
got his brother Casey. Ben was like, "Shit, I cant
make it. Ive got more shots to do for Pearl Harbor."
Your book [If
Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor (St.
Martin's Press 2001)] is very funny. Did you ever think
it would be so huge, like when it appeared on the New
York Times bestseller list?
The funniest thing is that
its not exactly on the New York Times bestseller
list. We got up to number ten on the business bestseller
What does that
Its for business
books, industry books like by Jack Welch [CEO of General
Electric]. Heres me from east nowhere. Thats
the beauty of it. Thats the same joy that we felt
when Evil Dead went to number three on the video
charts after twenty years. Theres Titanic, Lady
and the Tramp and Evil Dead. It makes me crack
up and realize that youre working for some reason.
Even though the
Evil Dead films are great and fun movies. Reading
the book, it doesnt seem like they were fun to make.
It wasnt fun at all.
It was the least fun, but creatively it was great. And
thats what kept us going.
What was the most
I have a theory. Its
very dangerous to work on things and have fun because
movies that are easy to make are hard to watch, and movies
that are hard to make are easy to watch. I did a movie
called Sundown: A Vampire in Retreat. They shot
it in Moab, Utah, which to me is heaven because I love
the desert and the isolation. I had a part where they
only needed me two days a week for six weeks. The rest
of the time, I was mountain biking, river rafting, hiking
and getting lost in the desert. But yet the movie sucked.
Those movies where you sit around in your chairs, crack
jokes and tell stories about the good old days, those
movies are going to suck. But if youre never back
in your trailer long enough to relax, then youve
got a fighting chance.
Who are your favorite
I like Gary Oldman, but
he has to stop playing bad guys. I would take Gary Oldman
and cast him as the head of a Fortune 500 company as the
good guy. I think hes cool. I like this guy Jack
Black; hes pretty funny. Hes got to be careful,
too. He doesnt need any more of the "Im the
funny dope smoking guy, and Im the outrageous guy."
He wants to do
a dope smoking movie people actually see. Hes done,
like, three or four of them.
Thats true. Hes
a funny guy thats been in movies no one ever sees.
I like guys like that. Some actors make a terrible mistake.
They should be character actors, but they try to be lead
Like James Gandolfini.
the jurys out on him because hes too busy
right now to do a bunch of movies. Well see what
happens when The Sopranos ends. I think hes
an interesting actor. He has a lot of presence. But guys
a lot of heroes, but I think the worst villain you played
was the homophobic character who fired Ellen from her
job on the first Ellen DeGeneres show. What was that like?
It was cool. It was Ellens
idea to have a character that dissented. It doesnt
make sense to do a show where someone is gay and everyone
is happy about it. There are pockets of America that would
turn the show off. It was smart of her to do that. That
was just a fluke.
From the book,
it seems you have a love/hate relationship with Sam Raimi.
What do you lean towards more?
Its way more love.
I hope I didnt go overboard. Sam loved it. I went
to visit him the other dayhes still shooting
Spider-Man like a year after I did my part. That
poor bastard. We fell right back into our witty repartee.
He must be so
excited to be doing that movie.
I think he is. Its
a big deal for him, and hes not even over his head.
prepping for this movie ever since he was a kid.
For once, you have a director
that was a fan of the original comic book. For some guys,
its got to be total wet dream.
A lot of people,
including me, are mad at him because now well never
Thats right. "That
asshole took my job!"
with you directing the feature film, The Man with the
Some things were not meant
to be. We did everything we could.
You direct a lot
of television, though.
I just directed some VIP
episodes with Pamela Anderson. You cut your teeth wherever
you can. But thats how it works. If your directing
resume consists of guilty pleasures like Hercules
and Xena, then the industry says that you direct
other guilty pleasures like VIP. But you cant
direct ER. But its all bullshit. If I can
direct a Xena episode with fight scenes
and blue screens, characters appearing and disappearing,
half-men, half-horse and all that shit, then why the hell
cant I do an ER, where you turn on the lights
and put the steadicam?
When is your documentary
Fanalysis coming out?
Its going to bundled
with the Evil Dead DVD. Were putting out
a whole big reissue. Weve retransferred and remastered
it. Its even coming out in the theatres in limited
release. Itll be the best-tasting cheese youve
What is the most
memorable moment in your film career?
There isnt a single
one. You never get to the end. Youre never at the
finish line and go hooray. Normally you feel like that
when you finish a movie. I feel partly the best when my
book hit the bestseller list. Youre not connected
to any movie; this is just pure Campbell. That was nice.
Now Im playing with the big boys, and Ive
never written a book before. Theres a lot of snobbery
with books, and I did it. It was a very good experience.
Have you gotten
other book-related offers, perhaps to do another one?
Well, under my contract
I have to offer my next idea for a book to my publisher.
I already pitched three
of them, and they didnt like any of them. Its
Hollywood comes to publishing. Its the same as moviesheres
how it worksand I didnt realize it until a
few days ago. Its kind of amusing and depressing
at the same time. They go, "Thats fine Bruce, maybe
well do those ideas some other time, but heres
what we think you should write." Its based on what
they think they can sell when it comes to you.
So they want you
to do a genre book?
They want an over-the-top
action thriller like one of these ridiculous, not so much
Die Hard but bigger than that.
Like an Armageddon.
Exactly. So I think, "Okay,
that has nothing to do with the three ideas I pitched
you, but thats okay." Were going back and
forth right now. You play the game. I want them top support
for the book. So if I pitch a book and force it down their
throats then who knows how much theyll get behind
it. But if its an idea they support and encourage,
then they have no excuse to back off. If I write it for
them, they have to promote it.
Hollywood aspect of it.
For If Chins Could Kill,
the publishers expectations were pretty low. The
original idea was to print 4,000 copies in paperback form.
Then, fortunately, they got enough of a whiff of my following
and made it hardcover. I was always lobbying for that
because then you could release a paperback later. I think
they realized the value of what collectors like, the whole
movie geek thing. What happened is they printed 12,500that
was our first run. Now were up over 60,000. Were
upon to eight printings now, which was an unexpected surprise.
So you figure now theyll give you anything you want.
thought youd have figured that out by now.
Yeah, but publishing seemed
different. Silly me.
In Bubba Ho-tep,
you play Old Elvis.
Old Elvis, man. No one
has done it before.
Which stamp did
you vote for?
Hawaii comeback Elvis.
There is no other. Fat suit all the way.
You seem like
the type of guy whod do an amazing Elvis imitation.
Lets be easy on that
amazing. I do a caricature. Plus the good news is that
doing Elvis at 68, since no one has done it before, no
one can say I suck at it, either. Youre not allowed
to compare it to clambake Elvis.
This is the Elvis
that used to fly all over the country to get bacon and
peanut butter sandwiches.
A guy whos got to
get the blue ones after the red ones. Go quickly before
the green ones kick.
I heard you met
your current wife on a television set.
My wife Ida, yeah. We met
on a movie called Mindwarp.
Were you apprehensive
about being with someone in the business?
wife was an actress; that didnt help. Ida was a
crewmember; that made all the difference. Crewmembers
heads are a little more in reality, and thats good.
All I can say is, never marry an actor.
I dont even
like working with them.
Actresses are their own
breed. I love them to death, but when you get one thats
tough to deal with, just watch out. Ive gotten pretty
good at it. I know all the tricks to calm them down. Ive
spent entire days of shooting keeping the actresses from
I worked with
an actress. I was just on the crew, and she didnt
know how to die. She said, "I cant be dead enough."
Everyone had lots of ideas.
Yeah, like, give me a hammer.
Ill take care of that for you, baby.
I read that you dont
sign autographs anymore.
Thats the problem
with Internet urban legends. If you send me a three-by-five
card, you arent going to get anything back because
you dont give enough of a shit about me to go to
a convention or book signing. This past book tour, I was
in fifty-five cities. If you cant get off your ass
and get to one of those cities, then I cant help
you. Change the oil in your car and drive a hundred miles,
youll make it. Im very accessible. I like
it when I can see their faces, shake their hands and meet
them. If I cant meet them, I dont want to
do it because it means youre collecting me or putting
me in Lucite or youre selling me on Ebay. Like the
guys who come up and want a photo signed, but they ask
me not to put their name on it. They want it generic to
sell. I dont know who these people are if I just
send it in the mail. Then it just becomes too bleah.
How is the book
doing outside the U.S.?
I dont know. It hasnt
been released outside the U.S. yet. Part of the reason
that Amazon.com and places like that are so ubiquitous
now is because they didnt need to release it in
England because enough people were buying it on online.
Dont get me started. Its a whole thing; its
one of those dumb things. I tell the publishers, "Dont
you guys understand? Evil Dead started in
England, overseas sales started it. Why arent we
selling it there?" We will eventually.
I guess I have
to ask about Evil Dead 4.
Hows it going. (laughs)
ever going to happen?
Why would it when each
of the other movies took ten years to make money? The
shortsighted executives at any of the studios dont
want something thatll make money ten years from
now. Its about the opening grosses, though I think
a part four would actually make some moneyas long
as you kept a lid on the costs. Evil Dead made
a lot of money, part two made money before we were even
done shooting and Army of Darkness cost too much
and didnt make enough. And thats all they
remember. They dont remember the other two movies.
And on video, theyve all made money. With Army
of Darkness, Universal put out a very generic DVD.
Anchor Entertainment in Troy, Michigan, God bless em,
said, "Hey Universal, could we sublicense it because we
want to put out a special Army of Darkness?" Because
Universal didnt care, they put out the special one.
People went apeshit for it to the extent that Universal
called Anchor Bay and said that they want it back. Anchor
Bay was like, bite me, because you guys were lazy and
watched us make a lot of money because we actually bothered
to put things in it that the fans would enjoy, rather
than the usual studio cookie cutter trailer and boring
commentary. Youve got to jazz it up.
I watched Ghosts
of Mars, which was my first mistake. It was a special
edition, just b-roll from the set all cut together.
Wow. Just some guy with
a video camera running around. So, fortunately, its
the little guys who know whats going on. Its
the little guys who wake the big guys up.
Because its all about
the quick buck. When movies didnt cost so much,
it wasnt that big of deal and you could let movies
percolate. Its the same thing thats happening
now in television. The market share is fragmenting so
much that youre not getting the same ad rate so
they cant spend as much on shows. So if an expensive
show comes along, that sucker had better be successful
in the first two weeks or theyre going to pull it.
How many high-profile shows like the Bette Midler one
or The Geena Davis Show are gone?
All the Oscar
winners shows are gone.
Theyre gone. They
need some b-movie people in there. Well show them
how to do it.
Are you going
to be starring in another show anytime soon?
I hope not. Television
and I arent real tight right now. Its a killer;
its a family killer, life killer and a physical
killer. The only thing that it helps is your pocket book,
and it doesnt even help that if you get divorced,
yknow. Seriously, its a real time sucker.
Jack shit. I havent
taken time off in about ten years so Im taking about
two months off. Then Ill start a new book, whatever
it is. There are a couple of movies that are percolating,
but its hard to get excited about them until theyre
real. Then Spider-Man opens in May, and Bubba
Ho-tep will come out. Theres another movie I
did called Servicing Sara.
Matthew Perry, right?
I almost have a real part
in a real movie. Its like a third leadIm
Elizabeth Hurleys ex-husband. I get to play the
butthead of the movie.
Did you get to
kiss her at all?
No lip locking at all.
I think I kissed her good-bye.