An interview with the main man
Obama and McCain are not the only two men touring the country this season. Cult icon Bruce Campbell begins a multi-city tour later this month with his latest directorial effort and horror, action, comedy hybrid My Name is Bruce.
“I’ll even kiss babies, I don’t care,” Campbell says jokingly – or does he? The hero and buffoon of the Evil Dead trilogy is speaking to ShockTillYouDrop.com on the phone. We’re in New Orleans on assignment; he’s due southeast in Miami where he’s starring alongside Jeffrey Donovan (“He’s a cool cat.”) on the hit series Burn Notice. Campbell got a taste for taking a film on the road in 2002 when he effortlessly disguised himself as a geriatric Elvis Presley in Bubba Ho-Tep. This time, he’s drumming up hype for a feature he co-produced, directed and toplines.
“I find touring to be critical and educational,” he says. “Do people really like what you’re doing? Do they not? Do they show up? Where do they show up? What cities do you do well in? Why? I just like touring.” Then, with the tone of a criminal doing time, “I’m stir crazy here in Miami,” Campbell adds. “I’m ready to see a mountain and to experience a cold rain. Unlike everyone in the fall, I’m looking forward to a little crunching in the ground under my feet.”
My Name is Bruce begins its sweep across the U.S. on August 26th in Austin, Texas where the first, and momentarily only, showing sold out in fifteen minutes. A second screening was announced and the faithful came out in numbers to gobble up tickets. Then a midnight show was added. “The whole purpose is to get this film out there. Show it. Do they want to see it? After I leave, do they still want to see it?” the actor queries. We deny him an answer because it seems obvious: Yes. Bruce mania is still in full effect, folks. “I can always do the official appearance, but after I’m gone, what’s the deal?”
The origins of the film trace back to an amiable rapport between Campbell and Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson and writer Mark Verheiden. After a number of discussions in which the triumvirate expressed interest in working altogether, Verheiden and Richardson approached Campbell with a pitch: “A chance to make fun of myself. It sounded like a blast. I was like, Where do I sign? Mark did a couple of drafts, he was busy with Battlestar Galactica. And I took it from there and made it into my own.”
The resulting story finds Campbell, playing an exaggerated version of himself, answering to the call of a small town besieged by demons. “I wanted to make [my character] as bad as possible,” laughs Campbell. “The only thing he feeds his dog is Rotgut Whiskey. Even if you remove Bruce Campbell from the equation, the concept of this story is a guy who people think is a hero. What’s this actor really like? Bruce Campbell is a little inconsequential in all of this other than the fact that I’m pretty handy with fear. We just tried to make this low budget asshole loser who’s un-heroic suck it up and confront his demons and attempt to help this small town. I like redemption stories so I say let’s let him be an asshole and go from there, make him less of an asshole and punish him horribly along the way.”
What was particularly alluring about joining the project was the chance to direct it. But to take on a low budget venture like Bruce, he required control. The result is what Campbell is calling a “real movie” unlike The Man with the Screaming Brain which “was officially a bomb, and for good reason. On [ Bruce], we didn’t have any kind of Sci-Fi Channel restrictions and didn’t have to do anything to please anybody. What I find is that it makes for a purer product. There are less chefs involved. It makes me want to promote it because I’m not working for the man.”
Campbell says that one of the delays surrounding My Name is Bruce was actually beneficial. In spite of knowing it would inevitably head direct-to-DVD, Dark Horse allowed Campbell more time in post-production to “redo all of the digital FX so they were proper theatrical grade,” he reveals. “We shot some other stuff, we got to gussy it up a little bit. I’m glad they did that. What happens is that you get a guy like me who has had some shitty movies that have never come out. I’m sure they thought, It’s another Campbell dog. The point of fact is that it’s not a cookie cutter little movie, it’s a hand-made movie and those things are going to take a bit longer. Plus I had this thing called Burn Notice come up. Once you get into TV it takes up your whole life, so we had to dodge around that a little bit.”
With Bruce on the way and Burn Notice providing a steady stream of work, there’s no telling where Campbell’s path will lead him next. “Things come out of the blue,” he says when asked if he’d like to continue directing. “From 2000 to just about now I was writing a couple of books, making a couple of movies and working a little more for myself. Then opportunities just come up. Burn Notice came out of nowhere. I’ll be happy doing the little independent things, but every so often something comes up that could be cool and it becomes successful. I’ll probably, after this show is over, go right back to where I was making low budget movies.”
Should that be the case, his fans will undoubtedly follow him no matter where he goes.
For a complete list of cities welcoming My Name is Bruce click here.