Ricky Church chats with Bruce Campbell at Fan Expo 2019…
At the Fan Expo convention in Toronto, Flickering Myth got the chance to speak with famed and self-declared “B-List” actor Bruce Campbell. From appearing fighting against Hercules and Xena to combating the Evil Dead to writing his own autobiographies, Campbell is known for his wide and long career. The actor is currently hosting the rebooted version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, where it is more about amazing feats and overcoming difficulties rather than a focus as a freak show.
Speaking on his turn from an actor to host of a reality show, Campbell explained his process as a showman. “You’ve got to match what it is. If you’re a spokesman, you have to act the part of a spokesman. It’s not really me hosting the show, it’s my version of how a host would host that show. It’s a weird amalgamation. I’m still an actor acting like a host, but it doesn’t seem like it. Or does it? It might be my best role ever, playing the part of a host.”
Of course, Campbell has done much more in his career than just acting. He’s an executive producer on Ripley’s, director, screenwriter and published author. It’s quite a diverse resume he’s put together over the years. “It’s job rotation. I like different perspectives,” Campbell explained on his varying titles. “Every actor should be a director so they know what that process is like and know the director’s problems. They realize where they are on the totem pole. I think you should be familiar with writing. What’s the story? Tell a story. It takes a long time for filmmakers to figure out what a story is. Act 1, act 2, act 3, what the hell is that? So I like doing the mixed bag.”
Despite the rotation from all the different types of jobs he’s has, there has always been one particular person he has come back to: director Sam Raimi. Campbell and Raimi are high school friends and grew up together in the film industry and have worked together numerous times, most notably on the Evil Dead franchise, Darkman and the Spider-Man films with Campbell appearing in cameos in each film. The biggest cameo he had in Raimi’s trilogy was the wrestling announcer who names Peter Parker ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’.
“I think Sam is the best director working,” Campbell said on why he keeps working with Raimi. Elaborating further, Campbell praised Raimi’s ability as a director to understand the technical aspects and difficulties of filmmaking. “He’s one of the best directors in the business, probably top five as far as technical abilities. Watch Spider-Man 2. I think it’s one of the best superhero movies period and it’s the best of the trilogy. He’s really amazing at exponential learning. What he learns from one movie to the next technically. Like, he actually read the American Cinematographer’s Manual. You want to read stuff that will make you want to hang yourself with technical information about apertures and film speeds? He read it! He’s like ‘I think I should know how a camera operates because as a director that’s my tool. How can I use apertures and exposure to get a certain look or dynamic?’ That’s what’s fun about working with Sam.”
As far as his writing career goes, Campbell views the film and writing industry very differently. “The writing world is very respectful compared to the film business. There are very few chefs when you write a book,” he said. “I addressed my editor’s changes for my latest book in about 15 minutes and if I wrote a screenplay I’d have 10-pages of single-spaced notes from some 26 year old kid who doesn’t know shit, but they feel like they got to justify their job. It’s good to do different stuff, you get exposed to different people too. Making a book is a whole different story than making a movie. It’s kinda cool, the difference.”
One of the roles Campbell has been known for the most is that of Ash in the Evil Dead franchise. The chainsaw wielding demon hunter has been a fan-favourite of the horror genre, one Campbell got the chance to reprise with Ash vs Evil Dead, a television series that is a sequel to the original trilogy. When asked how it was to reprise Ash Williams after 21 yearsm he had just one ward to describe it: “Hard.”
“It was painful. I pulled another hamstring,” Campbell said. “There’s a series of embarrassing emails to Rick Jacobson [one of Ash vs Evil Dead‘s directors], Season 2 I think where the episodes kept getting bigger and bigger because things are coming to a head storywise and there’s all these fights, falling and all the worst crap. So there’d be these emails of ‘Hey Rick, I woke up this morning and I’m not sure if I can run today, can you make sure my stunt guy Raicho Vasilev is ready to go?’ Then the next day, ‘Hey Rick, my left knee is kind of fucked up, can I just stand over the guy?’ I was falling apart. My whole body was disintegrating.”
Fans had spent years clamouring for another Evil Dead film, but the TV series served as the best option for Campbell, Raimi and others since a fourth Evil Dead film may not have been financially profitable. Now that the series has ended, Campbell looks back on it with a sense of closure he and the fandom can share. “I’m fine with it because we finally got to do it. I got to address it to my maximum abilities and I felt we did that. I felt we honoured the fans too because we gave them a pseudo-ending,” Campbell said. “They will never be happy with anything we do, but in this case we were like ‘okay we don’t know if we’re getting cancelled or not, let’s make sure we end this particular season with something that could be considered an ending.’ So that’s what we did and thank god we did it because we got canned!”
Check out the full roundtable interview here…
What do you think of Campbell’s comments? What has been your favourite Campbell role? Would you like to see Evil Dead still continue in some fashion? Let us know below or at @flickeringmyth…
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