Some of Bruce Campbell’s best work has been on television, though often sadly short lived. He’s trying again with USA Network’s Burn Notice, playing an old ex-agent helping a newly disavowed agent recover his life. He also has his own movie coming out, My Name is Bruce, and the obligatory cameo in Spider-Man 3. This time, he does a French accent as a maitre’d botching Peter Parker’s wedding proposal.
CraveOnline: You’ve done a lot of television, some, sadly, short-lived. Do you have a sense when you get into a project like this that the magic is going to be there?
Bruce Campbell: I have a good sense about this show. I used to say "when it gets picked up" while we were shooting the pilot. No one believed me. They’re saying, "Shut up. Stop saying that." I said, "No, when it gets picked up, we’re going to have to do this and this and this." And it got picked up. So now I’m thinking seasons ahead. I think there’s enough aspects to this show that the average viewer can relate to. The lead guy is accessible. He does the right thing every show under very extreme circumstances, and he’s still trying to have a family relationship with his crazy mother in Miami. So it’s really not just about shooting guns and running around and chasing spies. He is a spy, but he’s a human. And he co-ops my character Sam, who is a loser and a wash-out, to help him go on these crazy missions, and also with the character Fiona, played by Gabrielle [Anwar], it’s a very interesting combination of characters.
CraveOnline: Do you get your ass kicked on this show?
Bruce Campbell: No, I don’t know what I am in the show. I’m his idiot sidekick kind of. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy, so I’m pseudo helpful. And the strange thing is he can’t trust me a hundred percent because I have to rat on him to the feds. Otherwise, they’ll take my pension away. So the trick is to not really tell the feds anything, to help him out and to help whatever the story of that particular episode out. So he’s a bit of a conflicted character, which is good.
CraveOnline: Do sidekicks get that chance to be the weird, offbeat character?
Bruce Campbell: Oh yeah, absolutely. Sidekicks don’t have to bring the medicine back to little Billy. Sidekicks can make horrible mistakes and screw up and go get drunk and whatever they normally do.
CraveOnline: Do they have any episodes for you to direct yet?
Bruce Campbell: No. I was hired as an actor on the show, so I’m happy to just be an actor.
CraveOnline: So you’re confident in this show. How many seasons ahead have you really thought about?
Bruce Campbell: Oh yeah, it’ll go five. And then I’m done after five. My character will be dead after five. He’ll get hit by a bus.
Bruce Campbell: These guys start off being very disenfranchised and hopefully during the course of the seasons, they’ll get their act together and have a well-oiled system of helping little people out in the middle of their strange circumstances.
CraveOnline: You help him out, what do you get out of this relationship?
Bruce Campbell: I get petty cash and beer money. It gives me something to do because otherwise I’m just hanging out with rich Miami women, and you know, how boring is that?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, you probably will, but the good news is I don’t care anymore and neither does the character. So it’s like, yeah, he loves hanging by the pool and tanning. That’s his character.
CraveOnline: So this guy uses his spy training on everyday cases. Is he kind of like McGyver?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, he’s definitely like MacGyver. It’s MacGyver-ish. It’s a little more complicated than MacGyver in that there’s a lot of human aspects to it. It’s not just wire and gadgets and stuff. It’s do you care if he wires the gadget? Do you care if he succeeds? Those are fundamentally different concepts. It’s one thing to have an action scene, but do you care about the people who are in the action scene? I think that’s crucial.
CraveOnline: How brutal can your getting beat up be?
Bruce Campbell: No, no it’s fine. Every episode we’ll be doing something ridiculous, some sting operation, some covert operation where things go wrong. Things blow up in your face and get ugly and we have to lie, cheat and steal. It’s perfect.
Bruce Campbell: I learned how to sweat pretty well. I got that down. No, my wife will take care of the salsa dancing.
Bruce Campbell: I’ve never shot in Miami before. It’ll be a fascinating experience. It’s a cool city though, just a crazy city with pretty much everything going on. So it’s not a bad place to set this show.
Bruce Campbell: My kids are grown. My daughter just got married, so she ain’t going nowhere. And my son is in college, so my wife comes with me just about anywhere.
CraveOnline: How is Bruce Campbell, the father-in-law?
Bruce Campbell: He’s fine. He’s very rational. He’s very easy to get along with. And if there are any problems, I just show them Army of Darkness and tell him I’m going to go Ash on him if he hurts my daughter.
CraveOnline: How do you come up with your cameo characters in Spider-Man, particularly the latest one?
Bruce Campbell: The funny thing about that is that on the first Spider-Man, I met Tobey Maguire, and he was like, "Okay, yeah, you’re a friend of Sam’s. You’re in this movie." Then I showed up for the second one, and he’s like, "Why are you back again? And you’re playing a different character. Why are you here?" And he didn’t really get it. And then on the third one, he saw me and was, "Okay, you’re never going to go away. I see." So he finally made peace with it. It’s just been fun to show up for this incredibly high-budget movie and just stick around. That’s the fun part about it. And it’s still Sam. It’s still Sam. The budget’s just changed, that’s all. So we have a good working relationship and we fool around and come up with stuff. It’s a great gig.
CraveOnline: Are the maître d the usher and the fight promoter are all related somehow in that universe?
Bruce Campbell: No, it’s just whatever is needed to torment Spider-Man at that time.
CraveOnline: Is it nice to see the other actor being beaten up for a change?
Bruce Campbell: Absolutely. It’s very fun to watch a guy in tights run around and get the crap beat out of him. And I know Sam loves to do it.
CraveOnline: There were early rumors that your cameo was going to be a villain.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, that’s all that Internet crap that’s always 85 percent wrong. If it’s on the Internet, it’s mostly wrong.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, it’s wishful thinking. All it takes is some guy in Buttcrack, Kansas to say, "Hey, Bruce Campbell should be Doc Ock" or whatever. And then that gets out there, and you see it in print, and all of a sudden, it’s like, real. And then it gets passed around. It’s like the telephone game, and then that thing gets passed around and becomes something else, and something else. That’s why I have a website, frankly. I have a website to tell just tell people: If it’s not on my website, I ain’t doing it. It’s that simple.
Bruce Campbell: We play with all rumors. Rumors are meant to be spread. W.C. Fields made up all of his own PR. And he lied about all of it. He lied about his whole background.
CraveOnline: Sam mentioned the possibility of another Evil Dead. Is that really going to happen?
Bruce Campbell: Sam probably didn’t mention the second half of that, which is he doesn’t need to right now. We can always make an Evil Dead movie when we’re in the old actors and directors home. But right now, he’s not quite there.
CraveOnline: Is that when you’d like to revisit Ash, when he’s much older?
Bruce Campbell: Oh yeah, absolutely. He’s out of it. I’d make him an old ass. I’d make him like a Bubba Ho-tep.
CraveOnline: If Sam does The Hobbit, what’s the cameo?
Bruce Campbell: Hopefully someone that torments the hobbit. Hopefully someone who’s not the hobbit. Why would Sam do The Hobbit?
CraveOnline: He’s in the running. Bob Shaye even said so.
Bruce Campbell: Bob Shay-dy? New Lies Cinema? Yeah, these are the guys who distributed the first Evil Dead, don’t forget. So, you know, enough said there. I hope they pay Sam his overages like they didn’t pay Peter Jackson. Hey, if they ain’t paying Peter Jackson overages, I’d be very afraid, but that’s me.
CraveOnline: Your fan base keeps growing. There’s a new Bruce Campbell fan born every day. So how do you remain a cult figure?
CraveOnline: Do you have any more directing projects lined up?
Bruce Campbell: My day job is an actor, and I get to direct whenever the opportunity is there. Obviously if the movies that I make make a lot of money, then sure, there’ll be lots of opportunities. And if they don’t, those opportunities will go away. It’s very simple math.
Bruce Campbell: The next book is How to Write Books. I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t know. I don’t have an idea for another book.
CraveOnline: My Name Is Bruce makes references and uses poster from Evil Dead. Did you have to get permission?
Bruce Campbell: I’m a partner in Evil Dead, so that wasn’t an issue. It’s getting permission to the other movies that I was in, where I was just an actor. So in some cases, we made up fake posters for fake movies that don’t exist, movies like Death of the Dead, Cave Alien, really just dumb titles that we made up.
CraveOnline: And Don Coscarelli had no problem giving you Bubba Ho-tep.
Bruce Campbell: No, because we referred to it lovingly in the movie. He’s like, "I sort of liked Bubba Ho-tep." And one of the characters said, "Everyone liked Bubba Ho-Tep." So I knew Don wasn’t going to hassle me about putting that in because I didn’t say that it sucked.
CraveOnline: Will My Name is Bruce get a theatrical release?
Bruce Campbell: We’re finishing it for theatrical. We’re doing all the effects at a high enough grade that it will be for theaters. Yeah, this film will not escape. It will be released.
CraveOnline: Are you hoping this ends up being a franchise?
Bruce Campbell: We already have the money for the sequel.
CraveOnline: Will any of the fake movies in the movie be full movies?
Bruce Campbell: Oh, Cave Alien? No. I’ve already made those. I’ve already made those so there’s no need to make them again. I mean , I’m parodying movies that I’ve been in, some of them very specifically.
CraveOnline: So safe to say there’s not going to be an Alien Apocalypse 2?
Bruce Campbell: Not if I can help it. I’m busy that day.