The coolest guy in show business talks about his new videogame, TV show, and horses. Yes, horses.
November 5, 1999
You may have heard that Bruce Campbell isn't like other big actors. That the star of the Evil Dead movies is actually a very approachable, down-to-earth guy. That the man behind Brisco County, Jr., Xena's and Hercules' Autolycus, and Ellen's Ed Billik answers all of his fan mail personally, likes to hang out with his admirers at conventions, and goes out of his way to make sure they understand he's just a normal guy.
Well, it's all true.
Bruce Campbell is indeed the cool-ass dude you think he is, but you'd never really know it from talking to him. He's more like your Uncle Bruce, an uncle that's constantly kidding you and telling you hilarious stories. Your favorite uncle, in fact.
IGN For Men editor Adam Douglas recently chatted with Bruce about his new NovaLogic game Tachyon: The Fringe, his upcoming TV show Jack of All Trades, and just about everything else Bruce has going on.
IGN For Men: What's your involvement with Tachyon: The Fringe?
Bruce Campbell: I'm kind of sitting back and just kicking out ideas... No, no, I'm being Mr. Voice Actor of the lead fighter pilot in this wacky space world that they've created.
IGN For Men: Do you enjoy doing voice over for videogames?
Bruce Campbell: I do actually because as an actor it gets old being covered in slime and goo and being cold and freezing and working nights. It's nice to be in a studio and just make believe, just pretend. You don't have to actually do it. It's a good experience.
IGN For Men: Did you have more input with the game than just voice?
Bruce Campbell: Whenever I record a line of dialogue I'll give them other options. But they have the overall vision of the game, and it would be silly for me to come in and go, "No no no, we should do this, we should do that." It's a little too late, they've already programmed the game.
IGN For Men: Would you consider yourself a gamer?
Bruce Campbell: I'd lie to you if I said yes, but my son makes up for me, because he's little game master. I've done about three other of these games and he's played them all, and he tells me which ones he thinks are any good.
IGN For Men: Would you like to have more involvement in a game in the future?
Bruce Campbell: It'd be great. The cool thing is it's not like when you make a movie, there are certain things you can't even conceive of doing because of the cost. But with a videogame, you can say, "Look, I want to set it on Mars," and it really isn't that big of a deal. Creatively it's a whole new world of opportunity. It's richer the any movie because it's interactive.
IGN For Men: The interactivity does open up a whole new world.
Bruce Campbell: I think it really does. It frees you up. You're not trapped if you get bored of some place, which you can't do in a movie. I find myself in movies wanting to fast forward past crappy scenes and I can't do it. There's no escape. But these types of games allow that. It's pretty groovy, it's a good scenario.
IGN For Men: The Duke Nukem videogame character is obviously an homage to you, at least your attitude...
Bruce Campbell: What?!
IGN For Men: The Duke Nukem character?
Bruce Campbell: Really?
IGN For Men: I would say so.
Bruce Campbell: I'm kidding, I'm well aware of Duke Nukem.
IGN For Men: Have you been approached for the movie at all?
Bruce Campbell: No, and I would say no because of the way they've handled it.
IGN For Men: How have they handled it?
Bruce Campbell: Well, they're rip-off artists. Let them get their own damn material. It's called hiring a writer. They're blatantly ripping it off and if I was any kind of litigious guy they would've gotten a phone call by now. It's depressing and I think it's wrong. That's why Tachyon: The Fringe will kick little Duke's ass any day.
IGN For Men: You have a new TV show coming out, Jack of All Trades.
Bruce Campbell: I do, yes. It's from the same people who do Hercules and Xena.
IGN For Men: What's the show about?
Bruce Campbell: It's 1700s swashbuckler, Captain Blood, Errol Flynn sort of stuff. It's a half-hour comedy which is an interesting format for an adventure show. They're going to shoot that in New Zealand starting in November, and by golly I don't know when it's going to hit the airwaves.
IGN For Men:: Will you be doing any directing?
Bruce Campbell: I'm not sure if I'll have the time, frankly. With Hercules and Xena I directed a bunch of those, and I could come and go and do the proper amount of preparation. But if I'm working everyday I can't do it. I'll just have to be little ol' actor boy.
IGN For Men: Do you like doing the directing?
Bruce Campbell: Oh I love it. It's really great, it opens up a whole new avenue. And it allows me to be the director that I've always wanted to be.
IGN For Men: Whatever happened with your planned directorial debut, Man With the Screaming Brain?
Bruce Campbell: It's just a hobby. It bounced around for years, literally for years. I had it financed once but I had to do a TV show instead so it's just a conversation piece now, like so many of these projects are.
IGN For Men: Something for interviewers to bring up.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, so that I can be tormented for years by it.
IGN For Men: And your book, Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, does that fit into the same tormeted pet project category?
Bruce Campbell: No, I'll just torment readers with that.
IGN For Men: That's actually on schedule to come out soon?
Bruce Campbell: Currently it's scheduled for spring of 2000. I know that's very nebulous but [it'll be that way] until the book goes into production and we see what difficulties or ease we have putting it together. The writing is almost done and then we just have to make it cool looking.
IGN For Men: You enjoy writing?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, I enjoy the whole mixed bag of the creative aspect. I look at it like the entertainment business is a factory. I call it Job Rotation. One day I'm screwing on tires and the next I'm working on fenders. I like to mix it up a little bit.
IGN For Men: Is there a job in the factory that you prefer more than others?
Bruce Campbell: I like that directing thing because you're a pseudo-boss. I can deal with actors because I am an actor, so if they try to play tricks on me I can catch them. I know all their dirty secrets.
IGN For Men: Do you prefer working on TV or movies?
Bruce Campbell: I actually like TV now because it's so fast. There's no waiting around. I worked on a movie Congo one time and the call sheet said that they had to shoot 3/8th of a page in one day. In most television shows you have to shoot between five and eight pages every day. So it's like a joke. Things get done really quickly -- if you're in some scene that really tortures you or it's cold or uncomfortable or whatever, it's going to be over soon. Nothing will linger on for any period of time.
IGN For Men: What's your favorite role?
Bruce Campbell: I actually really enjoyed the Western I did for Fox, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. I thought it was a good opportunity to make the lead character as interesting as the bad guys, which is a problem in a lot of movies.
IGN For Men: Do you find that there's a role you've done that's most like you?
Bruce Campbell: There's always a part of some actor in every single role they play. Let's face it, even if it's Dustin Hoffman, you're going to see Dustin Hoffman in every performance. It's just Dustin Hoffman as a weirdo, Dustin Hoffman pissed off, Dustin Hoffman being funny. There's no such thing as escaping into a character. Every character you supposedly pull out your butt is somewhere in your make up. I don't buy that crap of actors saying, "Oh it took me a long time to get rid of that character." When I put my head down on my pillow, that's when my character goes away.
IGN For Men: But is there one role that you can point at and say, "That's the most like Bruce Campbell?"
Bruce Campbell: If I was really arrogant I'd say Brisco, because he was smart and funny and charming and likeable and daring and brave. But I won't kid myself that much. I'm probably more like the character Ash in the Evil Dead movies. He's sort of half idiot but he's a useful guy.
IGN For Men: You're a very physical actor. Do you have an extensive athletic background?
Bruce Campbell: No, I don't know where the hell that came from. I used to do Super 8 movies with Sam Raimi in high school and that was back in the day when we were indestructible, so we would hurl ourselves everywhere, doing acrobatics and really lame-o, dangerous stunts without padding. It grew out of that because we thought it was fun, for whatever reason. In the same sense I'm not trained at martial arts. I suck at martial arts. I rely on editing heavily. You just bluff your way through a lot of that stuff. In other cases, like when I did this Western, you've got to learn how to ride a horse. You can't just hop up on him and go, "Hi-o Silver!" You have to learn how to ride that horse properly.
IGN For Men: Did you like the horse riding? Because I hate horses.
Bruce Campbell: You know what? I used to hate horses because I was afraid of them, and then I figured out that they will sense whether you can ride the second you get on their back. They know in about five seconds if you're an able pilot. I used to complain to the wrangler, "What is wrong with this horse?" Because the horse would spaz out and spin around in circles and I couldn't control it. So the wrangler would hop up on the horse and it would immediately sit still, and the wrangler would look over at me and go, "Yeah, I guess it's the horse," being really sarcastic. I learned that 90 percent of it is pilot error. So I don't fear horses any more, I loathe them. No, they're OK, but they don't give a rat's ass about what you're doing. They don't care if you're doing a love scene, if they feel like farting or grunting, they don't care. They just want to be back in the trailer eating hay. But they're smarter than you think, because they'll only step on your foot on a cold morning in November. They'll even shift their weight onto the hoof that's crushing your foot. People think horses are dumb but they're not dumb at all. But that's another story.
IGN For Men: Will you do any more movies with Sam Raimi?
Bruce Campbell: Not right now. We've worked together indirectly for years. I haven't talked to him directly on the set in a while, but I'm sure it's a possibility.
IGN For Men: We were disappointed that you didn't have a cameo in For Love of the Game.
Bruce Campbell: Well, you know, what are you gonna do? I think that went to his brother Ted. Teddy and I are competing for cameos.
IGN For Men: Who's cooler, Sam or Ted?
Bruce Campbell: Ted is cooler. Sam is the best director I've ever worked with, so I can't really slam the guy, but Ted's become quite an actor in his own right.
IGN For Men: Isn't Ted the Clint Howard of Sam's films?
Bruce Campbell: (Laughs) That's true and it isn't true. Ted actually created his own full-blown character on the Xena show that Sam had nothing to do with. With Sam, it's literally like, "Hey Sam, your brother Ted's really good on that show [Xena]," and Sam's like, "Oh, is Ted on that show?"
IGN For Men: What's your next film project?
Bruce Campbell: The TV show's going to keep me pretty damn busy so I don't really know. The good thing is it's only going to take six months out of my life so the other six months I can run off and do low-budget independent movies, which is what I really want to do.
IGN For Men: You just finished your own documentary?
Bruce Campbell: Yes, it's called Fanalysis. Fans don't like the sound of it. When I tell them at conventions that it's coming they get really nervous because they don't like that camera being pointed at them. But I think it's a story that must be told.
IGN For Men: You have quite a relationship with your fans.
Bruce Campbell: I interact with them more than the average schmoe. I do e-mail, and they can e-mail me directly. I get backlogged though. I have about a month-long backlog but eventually, if you have a question that you really want to know the answer to, I'll get back to you.
IGN For Men: Why the openness with the fans?
Bruce Campbell: Because I think it's wrong to despise them and it's wrong to fear them. There's a weird, strange miscommunication [between fans and actors]. Fans tend to put celebrities up on a pedestal, which they should not. I like sitting with fans at these breakfasts at conventions so they can see that I drop stuff, that I have stains on my shirt and I don't sit up straight. Actors should also realize that sometimes the fans don't really care about them. Sometimes they're not as excited to meet them as you think they should be, and they're not all stalkers either. I enjoy getting a grass-roots look. I can't believe politicians won't go to every part of the state they're representing -- there's something weird about that. I used to work as a production assistant back in Detroit, and they were making a huge deal because Henry Ford II was coming to visit a factory, like that was something that's unprecedented. Here's the guy that's running the stinking company -- you'd think he'd go into a factory once in a while. I'm a big fan of demystifying the whole Hollywood thing any way I can.
If you want to get in touch with Bruce yourself, visit his website, www.bruce-campbell.com.
Want some more info on the Evil Dead: Ashes to Ashes PSX game? Of course you do. Click here.
-- Adam Douglas made sure to take Bruce Campbell off his pedestal after the interview was over