From Evil Dead, to Believe it Or Not: A Chat With Bruce Campbell
It is hard to deny the impact Bruce Campbell has had on genre cinema. From the humble start working on the Evil Dead back in 1981 to his countless film and television roles, Bruce Campbell has made a name for himself, and a legacy that everyone in genre cinema has to respect.
Now, with him moving onto Ripley’s Believe It or Not CGMagazine got to be part of a round table interview where we got a chance to touch base with the iconic “b-list” actor to talk about his career, along with the industry of film making as a whole.
Perhaps his most endearing performance, even after over 30 years, is his portrayal of Ash. With three films and a series under his belt, he has made the character his own. His portrayal has led to numerous parodies, and countless takes and iterations on what that type of character is within horror. Yet, even the time, and new horror coming out almost daily, few can touch the timelessness of Ash.
Even with the show over, the legacy of what The Evil Dead means to fans will always remain. It is a series that stands in the pantheon of horror, cementing Bruce Cambell and Ash as staples of genre and cinema as a whole. Even with this, many questions about if the series got the ending it deserved, but it seems Bruce Cambell feels they sent the series off in the best way possible.
“I’m fine with it neck because I we got to we get to finally do it.” Campbell explained in response to his take on the legacy of the series “I got to, to address it to my maximum abilities right now. And I felt that we did that. And I felt we honoured the fans too. Because we gave them a pseudo ending. They will never be happy with anything that we do. But in this case, we were like, okay, we don’t know if we’re going to get cancelled or not. Let’s go Come up with 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 get caned. So if we didn’t do that ending people would be going, where is Ash what happened. So we took care of that business.”
With the fact, the show is now over, Cambell can finally step back from the role of ash. While an iconic character, and one he enjoyed playing, it is taxing bringing that character to life, especially on a show that pushes you both mentally and physically.
“It was painful. I pulled another hamstring,” Campbell said diving into the strain on his body while doing Ash vs. The Evil Dead. “There’s a series of embarrassing emails to Rick Jacobson, Season 2 I think where the episodes kept getting bigger and bigger because things are coming to a head storywise and there are 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.”
Even with The Evil Dead now over, it is hard to deny the connection Bruce Cambell and Sam Remi have. Old high school friends, and having worked with Remi on many features, including the Spiderman franchise and Darkman, the team brings great chemistry to the silver screen. And even after all these years knowing each other, Bruce Cambell still enjoyed working with Remi.
“I think Sam is the best director working,” Campbell outlined responding to the question on why he likes working with Remi so much. “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.”
With many horror films looking to revive practical methods, people that love classic horror are happy to see what can be done by blending the two methods. With his countless years in the industry, and has worked on plenty of practical and CGI based movies, Bruce Cambell does not mince words discussing the trend to push CGI whenever possible.
“CG had to run its course. Because everyone was fascinated with CG “Oh, let’s just do CG.” But the problem of CG is it would spray off and defy optics, like a creature, would be here and frame one, frame three, It’s right in front of your face. So to the point where our eyes can’t even adjust because the optics are not correct. So they had to kind of work that out. And then they had to come to the horrible realization that special effects could not be the actual story.” Cambell explains when responding to a question about the revival of practical methods in genre cinema. “What does he mean we have to have a story. Hopefully, they’re coming around to the realization that effects can be used very effectively to tell a story like Forrest Gump.”
“So, when you watch that movie, they made special effects work to tell the story of a single feather flipping around during the opening sequence and it lands all the way at Tom Hanks’s feet looks like a real feather. floating through the sky landing at his feet was a pain in the ass to do that opening sequence. But the point is the digital process can really help you tell a story, but it’s not the story. I mean, once you see a superhero, throw another superhero through one building it eight buildings 10 buildings. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the story. ”
Along with being a renowned actor, Bruce Cambell also has a best selling book, one that is a great read if you have the time. While working in both realms, it is no wonder he has a view on how they differ and how Hollywood could learn a thing or two from the world of publishing. “The writing world is very respectful compared to the film business. There are very few chefs when you write a book,” Bruce Cambell explained “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.”
While his days of picking up the chainsaw as Ash may be over, he is now stepping into the role of host for the new Ripley’s Believe It or Not on the travel channel. It may mean less zombie killing, but is looking to be just as exciting for fans of the new and bizarre. Hearing Bruce discuss it, this is looking to be an exciting season of the show while keeping the legacy it has built over 100 years.