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Interview with Bruce Campbell

 Jim Lauwers Interview with Bruce Campbell
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Bruce Campbell Interview

Featuring JimL2 as the one trying not to choke on his own tongue.

Walker Evans as His Boss.

And Walker’s son Desi as “the distracting noises in the background.”

My Name is Bruce will be playing at the Landmark Gateway Theater starting Wednesday, November 19th. Showings at 1:00pm, 3:15pm, 5:30pm, 7:45pm, 9:50pm, and Midnight.

Bruce will be holding a live Q&A after the 7:45pm and 9:50pm showings on 11/19, although according to the theater’s website those showings may already be sold out. Please call for details.

FOREWARD by Walker Evans

Bruce Campbell is undoubtedly the most widely known B-list actor in the world. He’s famous for his roles in cult classics including The Evil Dead 1 & 2, Army of Darkness, and Bubba Ho-Tep, and his cameo appearances in more mainstream movies including The Spiderman Trilogy, Escape from LA, and several Coen Brothers films.

When the opportunity recently arose to have him interviewed for Columbus Underground, I could think of no better man for the job than JimL2.

JimL2 is undoubtedly the most widely known B-list poster on Columbus Underground. He’s famous for his roles in cult classics including The Taco Ninja Review, Number One Chinese: Worst Restaurant 2006, and The Ugly Tuna Saloona Reviewna, and his cameo appearances in more mainstream threads including Let’s Open a Slam Ball Foam Pit Climbing Wall Trampoline…, Peach District Blog is On Line, and several ndcent threads.

Now that you all have an understanding of who these two men are, let’s get on with the interview.

Jim: How’s it going?

Bruce: Good. I’m ready for you.

Jim: Okay, awesome. I’ve seen the film, it contains a lot of in-jokes, but at the same time there were a lot of jokes that work on more obvious levels. Was there any concern that you might lose mainstream viewers?

Bruce: This movie is not made for mainstream viewers. This movie is made for fans of genre movies. That’s the beauty of making a low-budget movie, is you don’t have to appeal to everybody in America. And I had no intention of doing that. This is a love letter, as Fangoria put it, dipped in poison, to my fans.

Jim: That leads to another question. At one point in the film, you’re kidnapped by a fan. What is the worst experience you’ve ever had with a fan?

Bruce: Oh, they’re not too bad. Sometimes I’ll be guilty by association… some woman will come up at a book signing, she’ll be all gothed out, pierced and tattooed, and she’ll have written some poetry that she “thinks I’ll really like.” And I’ll read it, and it will be the most offensive thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. And so you’ve got to throw it out immediately.

Jim: So would you say that making the movie was cathartic?

Bruce: Oh, absolutely! It was cathartic, and gives me a place to hide it at the same time, because I can finally respond to my fans sort of how I would want to… only I can deny it, I have deniability as well. Because they can go “Why would you be so mean to your fans?” And I’m like “No, that’s just the character.”

Jim: So should we look for more films in this vein?

Bruce: Well, it depends on whether people embrace this ridiculous concept. You know, you’ve got to have your “silly” hat on. This is not Saw. You’re not going to see Evil Dead 4. So, it is what it is. It’s meant to be a simple comedy for people who like low-budget, independent, genre movies.

Jim: I’ve heard you’re really attracted to these kind of weirdo, off-beat movies. Have you ever had, or been pitched an idea that was too weird for you?

Bruce: Bubba Ho-Tep is pretty close. And I wound up doing that because Don Coscarelli promised me that you would never see his infected, cancerous penis.

Jim: [begins laughing, because it sounded like Bruce was referring to Coscarelli’s penis, rather than Elvis’.] Was that a threat, or a promise?

Bruce: It was a promise. I said “Don, are you going to see it?” And he said no. “Well it’s okay, then, I’m in.” Because that would have crossed the line.

Jim: That does sound like a deal breaker [now picturing Don Coscarelli ordering Angus Scrimm around by waving his penis in the air like a gun].

Bruce: Yeah. Because then you’re getting into Pink Flamingos territory.

Jim: Right, exactly.

Desi: Coooo!

Jim: [looking over his shoulder at Desi] Uhm. What was the best and worst part of working on this movie?

Bruce: The best part was the ability to work in a very specific, creative bubble, where you didn’t have a lot of chefs.

Desi: Wheeeeeeee!

Jim: Do you think this movie is going to make any money, are you concerned about that, or was this really just a piece of art for you to make?

Bruce: Ah, this is something that I would hope that the average viewer would accept as a funny premise; like any comedy you have to have some basic premise. But, you know, even if you remove me from a plot then hopefully “a fan who kidnaps someone who he thinks is a hero, to help him, but turns out to be a major nightmare,” I hope whether you remove Bruce from that or not, it would function as a–

Desi: YAAAAaaiioooooo!

Bruce: –uh, as a premise. And putting myself in there made it even weirder, but… you know, look, I don’t like cookie-cutter stuff. And we made it for a very reasonable amount of money. So am I worried? No.

Jim: I’ve heard that you were able to make it–

Bruce: Hey man, we were #1 for the weekend in average per screen!

Jim: Really! But how many screens was that?

Bruce: Doesn’t matter!

Jim: [begins laughing again]

Bruce: It doesn’t matter.

Jim: Fair enough.

Bruce: So we beat The Changeling. We beat Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-buzz drama, we beat it that weekend. So am I worried? No. Because I can beat The Changeling.

Jim: Did you send him kind of a nasty letter, like, you know…

Bruce: I should, yeah. Like “Dear Clint, ha ha ha ha ha!”

Jim: And you know, I think he’s probably too old now to start any fights, so you should be safe there.

Bruce: He can’t catch me now. He could have caught me about ten years ago; he can’t catch me now.

Jim: Especially because, I’ve heard you’ve moved to Oregon, and it helped with the filmmaking… it was easier and cheaper. And I’m wondering if [the new location] will help facilitate, ah, additional movies made by you, in the future.

Bruce: Well look, economics are economics. If the movie makes money, you bet. I’ll be able to do whatever I want to do. If it lays an egg, you know, it might take a little longer to get the money next time. I’m no different from the average schmoe when it comes to financing.

Jim: But do you think that Oregon is a better location to make movies than LA?

Bruce: Yeah, because no one has seen my valley in a movie, ever. I think Rooster Cogburn was the last movie they shot up in my area by, you know, the Rogue River. They shot The River Wild up there, too. So yeah, once every 25 years they come up there.

Jim: What do you think about Oregon vs. Miami – I know you’re doing Burn Notice [a weekly spy drama on USA], I know it’s doing really well – but what do you think about working there?

Bruce: Well, look, come on. I mean they’re at opposite ends of the country geographically and philosophically. So it’s good, it helps broaden your horizons. My Spanish is getting better and better because of Miami. And Oregon, it’s my home state. So I’ll do anything to work in Oregon. And Miami in the summer? You can have it.

Jim: When I was doing my prep for this interview, I took a break and wrote down all the questions I should not ask. Just to get them out of my system [and because I thought it was funny -ed].

Bruce: Was Evil Dead 4 one?

Jim: Exactly.

Bruce: [sighs] Yeah…

Jim: Yes, “explain this plot-hole to me,” stuff like that. And then I watched the movie, and you confronted every single one of them pretty much right in a row. And so I was like “oh, well, okay, I’m going to start over.”

Bruce: Heh.

Jim: But I’m wondering if you think you’re more self-aware than your critics are, if that’s important… [at this point, the reviewer lost his cool and started smashing several questions together -ed.] Because I know you play this sort of buffoonish character a lot, I’m wondering if you just enjoy that character, or if that stems from some kind of self-doubt.

Bruce: Uhm… no, I’m a pretty confident guy. But I feel it’s most important to create entertainment that appeals to the average guy. So I don’t want my characters to be something you can’t relate to. And as a person, I never try to be anything beyond what I am.

Jim: Sure.

Bruce: Look, I make a very good living, I make more money than my dad ever made, and I do exactly what I want to do. So I’ve got no issues… with anything. I’m happy to be a working actor. I work all the time as an actor. And no actor can want anything more than that, really. It just worked.

Jim: So if you could–

Bruce: We also shouldn’t read too much into this kind of entertainment.

Jim: Well sure.

Bruce: This is a silly comedy. It’s not going to be any more than that. It’s my brand of humor, that I happen to like. I happen to like slapstick. I happen to like the Three Stooges. And I don’t apologize for that. And there’s a lot of Three Stooges fans out there, who will get it. But there’s lots of people, like… lots of women who will watch that movie and go “Wow, I don’t get it.” And that’s okay.

Jim: And that’s the thing, because–

Bruce: I’m not going to edit my movie to accommodate more people. you know? I’m not going to cut out the f-bombs just so I can get a PG-13.

Jim: Have you ever edited a movie to appeal to less people?

Bruce: Fewer people?

Jim: Yeah. [Bruce Campbell has a better grasp of grammar than I do. -ed.]

Bruce: Uhm… no. I think my sensibilities just are what they are. And, you know, there’s going to be… the people who want to really analyze this movie? Like, most reviews? This movie has not gotten good reviews.

Jim: Hmm.

Bruce: But thank God my fans don’t give a crap. Because it’s not for them, it’s for fans. And you know, at a certain low-budget level it’s okay to target that specific group, because they–look, they put my kids through college. It’s okay if I do a little ode to them once every 25 years.

Jim: [laughs]

Bruce: It’s just a comedy! That’s what people, for some reason they’re like “Oh this is Bruce Campbell, making himself seem bigger than he… Oh, it’s an ode to himself.” I’m like, “are you insane??” If I wanted to do an ode to myself, you think I’d do this movie? It makes me look like a PR person’s worst nightmare! So anyway, when you present yourself in such a way… by making this movie–by making myself in this movie, saying that “I am Bruce Campbell,” and the name of the movie is My Name is Bruce, you’re opening stuff up for some real cheap shots. And they’re comin’, fast and furious. But it is what it is. It’s a premise for a movie. And it’s nothing more than that. I mean I’m going to wake up tomorrow, being the same guy, working on the same stuff.

Jim: Sure, and if you enjoyed making it, that’s what’s really important.

Bruce: No, here’s what’s really important. People watch it and enjoy it. Making a movie is very difficult, and isn’t always fun. Regardless of the subject matter you’re working on. And I care only if the audience member who pays money, sits down, watches it; if they like it, that’s my review. If they don’t like it, that’s my review, too. Someone watching the movie in a dark room, drinking gin in their mom’s basement, I can only get so upset about that.

Jim: [laughs] So have you been getting good responses during this tour?

Bruce: Absolutely.

Jim: [awkward pause]. That’s good. … Sorry, I sort of lost my place here. Uh. Did you hear that Jean Claude van Damme has actually come out with a similar movie?

Bruce: Yeah, JCVD.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah, do you think this is going to be [a popular theme] now, or do you think he just ripped you off?

Bruce: Oh… I don’t think Jean Claude van Damme had anything to do with this movie, or our movie with his movie, or the fact that this is like Three Amigos or Galaxy Quest. The concept of this movie came from a comic book from the 1940s, where the actor Alan Ladd was kidnapped by a bunch of people to help them fight pirates, because he played a swashbuckler. So these concepts are not what you’d call “completely brand-new,” but, the average person is way more aware of pop culture now than even when I was a kid. Listen, there’s teenagers walking around malls going “Oh! You need to know the box office for Hellboy was this!” Or “that!” … they know box offices now. So it’s a huge… there’s an awareness of media, an awareness of movies that there’s never been before. So it makes sense that actors are sometimes becoming self-aware too. But look, I’m not going to make a series, “The My Name is Bruce Chronicles.”

Jim: I know I’m running out of time, but I have one more question… do you think this virtualization, this rise of the internet, is making it easier to make low-budget movies–do you think it’s aiding in any way? Or is it always going to be the same ordeal?

Bruce: Ah, DVDs have helped guys like me. Because for instance this movie was financed by a DVD distributor. And so I don’t really care where the money comes from, as long as I’m left alone to do what I want to do. So the industry is changing all the time, and we’ve just got to be ready for it. But I think that technology has helped the average person make movies; YouTube has changed a lot, and I think that’s my other call [on call waiting].

Jim: Well I’d just like to thank you for your time, and say I really enjoyed the movie.

Bruce: Thank you very much, sir, I appreciate it.

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