The Sound of Young America: Bruce Campbell, Producer, Writer and B-Movie Icon

Episode 56

22nd August 2011

Bruce Campbell is a writer, producer, and cult movie actor who starred in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series and can currently be seen on the USA show Burn Notice. We talked to him about the DIY aesthetic and feeling of his projects, obsessive fans, and how he came to make cult horror movies, of all things.

Episode notes

Our guest host this week is MaxFun’s very own Jordan Morris! He’s a host and producer on FuelTV’s The Daily Habit and of course, co-hosts our own podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! You can also see him performing comedy at numerous venues throughout Los Angeles. Fun fact: Jordan is one of the original co-hosts of The Sound of Young America, so this is a return to form. He’ll talk to a man of horror movie legend, Bruce Campbell.

Bruce Campbell is best known as a B movie icon and one of the stars of the Evil Dead films. He’s also a writer and producer who’s continued to have a DIY aesthetic and feeling infuse his work (including his own film, My Name Is Bruce). He talks to us about finding a niche in horror and black humor, obsessive fans, and more.

You can see him on Thursdays at 9/8c on USA’s Burn Notice as covert operative Sam Axe and in his own spin-off TV movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, now on DVD.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.
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JORDAN MORRIS: This is The Sound of Young America, I’m Jordan Morris. My guest today is Bruce Campbell, an actor, director, and author, best known to film geeks as the star of the cult classics Evil Dead, Maniac Cop, Bubba Ho-Tep, too many to mention. He can now be seen on the television program Burn Notice, the HIT television program I should say. The Burn Notice feature length film The Fall of Sam Axe is on DVD and Blu-ray now. Bruce, thanks for coming on the show.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Great plug, by the way, great plug.

JORDAN MORRIS: Thank you, I was practicing in front of the mirror.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: And thank you for saying hit show.

JORDAN MORRIS: I wanted people to know.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Any actor can be in a show, but it’s a rarefied air to go, oh yeah, it’s my hit show. You don’t get that very often. I’ve been in so many canceled shows it’s amazing. Unfortunately I realized that when I’m the star of the show it only lasts one season. When I’m third fiddle, it’ll run forever.

JORDAN MORRIS: Well I look forward to future background fiddling by you. You background fiddle well.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I’m usually over the star’s left shoulder, or right shoulder.

JORDAN MORRIS: Bruce, I think you are best known for films and projects that are very genre-specific. They’re kind of outrageous, they’re campy humor.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Sometimes ridiculous. Sometimes unwatchable.

JORDAN MORRIS: Was this the kind of stuff you were into as a kid?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: That’s really a trick question. No, not really. No. I was into Zorro, adventure, more straight up adventure. A guy with a cape and a sword. That was kind of – – I ran around my yard with a stick and a cape that was made out of something, I have no idea. I’d found a pair of striped pants somewhere.


BRUCE CAMPBELL: Zorro was on TV at the time, because I’m a middle-aged man, Zorro was on television as a hero, old black and white TV show. That’s more what I wanted to do, but it all falls under the same ball of wax. When I play a mad scientist or when I play Elvis Presley with cancer on your penis, why not play some of these weird roles? It just keeps it interesting. We get bored easy. We’re fickle creatures, actors.

JORDAN MORRIS: When you were growing up running around the yard in striped pants with a stick-sword and a towel, was this something that – –

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Don’t say that mockingly when you recap that. It’s my childhood we’re talking about.

JORDAN MORRIS: I’m sorry if any kind of tone creeped into my voice. It was not intended, Bruce.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I didn’t know if that was the sound of young America or not or whatever.

JORDAN MORRIS: No, the sound of young America is not mocking.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It was weird, unlike most actors, I did not have a horrible childhood. Most actors have had miserable childhoods and they go into acting to hide from their real life. I had no problem playing in the woods all day. People just sort of left me alone. I think I’m gonna go back to those woods.

JORDAN MORRIS: Was getting into acting something that your parents encouraged? Was being an actor within the realm of possibilities for a young Bruce Campbell?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: They did not discourage it, but they didn’t go, you’re such a kooky kid, you should be an actor! There was no stage mother thing going on. I come from a non-acting background. My grandfather worked for Alcoa Aluminum in Detroit for like 50 years. My dad was like, you know, I’d like to be a painter! And my grandfather went, no, you’re not going to be a painter. You’re going to go to school, you’re going to get a job, you’re gonna start a family. Enough with that artsy crap.

So my dad got into advertising, and he was sort of a mad man. He was Detroit’s version of a mad man. He was an ad guy in the 60s and 70s, Mr. Swingerpants. He got into advertising because he thought that would be a creative outlet, but it wasn’t that creative, it’s all constrained for your clients and things like that. So he got into a local theater group, Saint Dunstan’s Guild of Cranbrook in suburban Detroit, and he started getting into plays. These guys were industrious, they did good plays. They did about five or six plays a year, some of them were these big splashy musicals outside, they had outside shows and inside. I went to see my dad in a play, and it was one of the classic cases – – I was about eight, and he was in Brigadoon and I thought, wow, my dad is acting so weird! He’s dancing with chicks that are not my mom, what is happening? What’s going on here? And the audience is clapping and laughing. I had just seen a different part of my dad, and I liked that part.

JORDAN MORRIS: When did you decide to start performing yourself?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Not long after that. Finally my dad directed me in a play there. I thought, good, it was a cool little closed loop moment.

JORDAN MORRIS: When your dad was directing you, did you have that, “God, Dad, you’re so embarrassing,” feeling? Or was he the coolest guy in the room?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: No, he knew what he was doing. My dad was so funny, by the time he directed the play I was in he had directed like ten plays. He had his notebook all ready and he cut his script out and pasted it and he had notes all over the place. He had an assistant and he would bark orders to her. I was like, wow. Look at him. At home it was like, hey, hey, what’s going on?! But at work I was like, wow, Dad is really focusing up here.

JORDAN MORRIS: Did you dream of going into the theater, or were movies and television always your end game?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Movies were not really on the planet. Not really, not initially. I thought, maybe I’ll be a theater actor because that’s how it started. But then my neighborhood started getting into that Super 8 movie thing. Regular 8 millimeter, then if you had a lot of money you could go to Super 8. We would experiment.

I had a photographer buddy of mine in the neighborhood, Mike Ditz. He had a camera, a little Bell & Howell thing, he had to wind it up. You could do stop motion, you could do frame by frame, so we’d do these things of guys getting on their butts all over the place, crashing into things, all stop motion. We would do stuff like that. A lot of gag stuff.

Then Sam Raimi over in his neighborhood was doing – – he was a magician, he would do magic stuff. He got into amateur movies, too. Then another guy, Scott Spiegel in his neighborhood had a full on, full fledged set up. I met him in eighth grade. He said come on over, I’ll show you some of the movies we’re working on. I was like, yeah, whatever. I went over and it blew me away, they were building sets, they had costumes. I was so jealous. I was like, guys, I have a theater company, I can steal their costumes, you need me to be in these movies! You need me bad!

I talked my way into their group, and then in high school all the neighborhoods collided because you all now go from separate junior high schools to the same high school. We became a full on industry in high school. Our weekends were completely booked of like, hey, Scott, what are you doing this weekend? Well, Friday night I gotta do some pick up shots for Pies and Guys, and Saturday we’re gonna do that – –

JORDAN MORRIS: Bruce, I’d like to maybe stop you here; I’d love to hear a description of the film Pies and Guys.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Pies and Guys. Scott Spiegel worked in a market for years, and then I weaseled in and got a job there too as a stock boy. We had to throw stuff out at the market. If it hit it’s expiration date they couldn’t legally sell it, but we could shove a pie in somebodies face if it, you know. So they had to throw out numerous pies, all this crap every week. It’s amazing the stuff that America has to throw out.

JORDAN MORRIS: So you were taking the food that was unfit for consumption and using it as props.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah, so what? We were young, it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to be hurt, you spit it out and start all over again. So we combined a bunch of resources, and we never got in trouble as a result. We were just too busy doing stuff. There was no drugs, there was no anything. No DUIs. If anything the cops would see us and go, oh, it’s you guys. We always had a camera. People would call and say, someone just fell off a parking structure! And of course it was just a dummy, we were experts with dummies. We’d throw them off of parking structures and film them. The cops would show up and go, well, at least you got a better dummy this time.

JORDAN MORRIS: Do you remember some of the plots of these early homemade super eight movies?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Sam Raimi did one called The Great Bogus Pignut Swindle.

JORDAN MORRIS: The now classic, sure.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah, it’s a classic. Very hard to actually watch it because the projector ate most of it in a couple of tragic screenings. You’re screening your negative, there was none of this hide the negative crap, in Super-8 that was your negative. At parties that was our test screening. Could you hold attention of drunk or stoned teenagers for fifteen minutes. If you could, that was a hit. We would do more like those.

JORDAN MORRIS: So you would show these movies at house parties?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah, at high school parties.

JORDAN MORRIS: Was there ever an inkling of like, let’s get this into a film festival, or did that not even occur to you?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: No no no, this was just because there were cute girls there, and if you made movies they didn’t really know what to think of you. We always used the jocks as bad guys in the movies, cause they always had the good looking girlfriends. So we’d go Tim Quill, he’s one of our buddies now, he’s been acting with us for years, he was a jock swimmer. Christie Gritton was his girlfriend, hottest babe on the planet. Are you listening Christie? She would come over with him all the time and she would play the cute bad girl, he’d play the bad guy, but then we could always have hot babes in the movies too.

JORDAN MORRIS: That is so – – where would you have placed yourself in the high school hierarchy? If you weren’t a jock, what were you?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I was not a jock. We had the stoners, we still had greasers, we had the tail end of greasers. If you were greasy you were kind of a loser because you were about ten years out of step, but we still had em. There were greaser bathrooms, stoner bathrooms, then there were jocks, I was…hard to define, because I was a thespian. I was just a little weird. You’re like a weirdo.

JORDAN MORRIS: Did you dress the part? Were you walking around school in eccentric clothes and loudly proclaiming things in the halls?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: When I look back it was eccentric, but it was not – – I was over the top. My dad had a crushed velvet dishwater brown smoking jacket, and it had pockets. I loved it, so I wore that every day. I wore a smoking jacket to high school every day, and Montgomery Wards work pants and janitor shoes, because they were comfortable.

JORDAN MORRIS: Bruce, I’ll come clean and say I was actually a drama kid too in high school, and I had a period where I wore bowling shoes to school and carried all of my books in a bowling bag.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I think that’s pretty awesome. Bowling shoes are great, I’d love to have a pair of bowling shoes. They’re like two toned shoes, like Saddle shoes. Those are cool shoes.

JORDAN MORRIS: I thought I was looking good. Looking back I didn’t date much.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Well, we didn’t either, but we were too busy making super eight history!

JORDAN MORRIS: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jordan Morris in for Jesse Thorn. My guest is the cult icon Bruce Campbell.

We joke about The Great Pignut Swindle being a classic, but a movie you made with Sam Raimi, Evil Dead, is actually a bonafied classic. Sam Raimi of course went on to direct the Spiderman movies and many other blockbuster type films. How did you guys go from making movies to show to stoners at parties to an actual movie that was ready for theaters?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It was a bumpy road. It was a long bumpy road. It basically started with high school ending, cause we went, aw, crap. This is it, the amateur hour is over. We realized we had to take it to the next level. I soon after high school joined a professional theater, so I got a taste of the professional world. Then after that I started to do production assistant work for commercials in Detroit. I got to know every process of how you actually do something for real, it’s not Super-8. You have to take something to a lab now; you now have to be careful with the negative; your sound has to go to a completely different place; and then, you have to put it back together again. And I got to see every aspect of it.

Sam was unsatisfied with college and so was I, and I had been working in the industry, so I was like, I knew where we could get stuff, I knew where to rent equipment now, I knew all these companies, and Sam was itching. We met another guy, Rob Tapert. Sam Raimi and rob met at MSU, and he had a degree in economics. Rob was the money guy. Rob and Sam got to talking about what it would actually take to make a movie, so we did a bunch of three way phone calls of, okay, what would it really take?

I had a handle on some of the costs and where to get some of the equipment, and then Rob was more tuned in to, you need a lawyer to drop a piece of paper that you then show to investors and they sign it and they give you money. You create an entity to make a movie. It was very daunting, but we thought if that’s what it has to be that’s what it has to be. The idea of leaving Detroit to go to the west coast was too daunting, too mysterious. We thought, let’s make our own movie. And that’s how the professional part of it started.

JORDAN MORRIS: Was the script for Evil Dead already in place, or did you just work out the business end first and the script came later?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I think Sam wrote a little short story in college about the Necronomicon. He pitched us that idea, and we felt like if you’re going to make your first movie it should probably be a horror movie, even though our amateur movies are about 90% broad comedy. We were very familiar with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, and none of those movies had anybody – – no name actors were in any of those movies. Any of the classic 70s, 60s horror movies. Night of the Living Dead, nobody. We knew that we could get away with that. Horror movies you don’t need fancy cars and clothes. Lot of times they’re in one location, we had a cabin. So that made it cheaper.

We did everything we could and we told investors that we had similar story elements to these other successful horror movies, we’re not reinventing the wheel, and we made a short movie. We made the ultimate super eight movie now that we were the experts of Super-8 movies. We made a half hour movie called within the woods which we would show to investors and say, see, it would be like this. It would be scary like this and gross like this, and it worked. We sat in these high level executive offices showing them a dumb little Super-8 movie and suckering them out of some money.

JORDAN MORRIS: When did you start to get a sense that Evil Dead was more than just a movie you made with your friends? When did you get a sense that, oh, this is something that people really like?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: When it finally opened. No US distributor would touch it. They wouldn’t have anything to do with it, so we found a foreign sales agent, the great Irvin Shapiro, who helped us – – Irvin Shapiro goes back to doing publicity for the Battleship Potemkin. He’s got sketches from Picasso that he traded for bottles of wine. This guy was one of the first people to ever bring motion picture – – foreign movies, to the States.

He was involved in Screen Gems early on as a company that brought movies, so he’s one of the founding fathers of the Cannes Film Festival in France. This guy new how to sell movies overseas. He had represented George Romero, so we though, wait, George Romero, that’s the same type of movie, we didn’t want to go to somebody that didn’t like these types of movies. So he ways, well, it’s not exactly Gone With the Wind, but I think we can make some money with it. So we started this process with Irvin Shapiro. England was an early bidder, and they got it, Palace Pictures, but what they did is they didn’t treat it like it was a low budget horror movie. They treated it like it was a big sensation and showed it at the Prince Charles theater in London with these giant blow up photographs of all of us, made it look like the Poseidon Adventure, and it hit.

JORDAN MORRIS: When you were working with Sam Raimi on this project, did it ever occur to you that this guy will be directing some of the most profitable blockbusters of all time?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: No, but we knew something was different about him, I knew it since the second I met him. I saw him in eighth grade, he was sitting in the halls of my junior high school, West Maple Junior High, dressed like Sherlock Holmes playing with dolls.

JORDAN MORRIS: A sign of greatness.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Sam was always crazy, he’d dress like Sherlock Holmes, Sam was crazier than any of us. Some of his physical comedy was better than any of ours, too, so he was really this bizarre, crazy guy who would do, you know, I’d go to answer a question, I was in his radio speech class together, that’s what started our relationship. I’d go to answer a question, he’s sitting behind me, he’ll take his pencil, put it in the back of my neck, and start to increase the pressure during the course of my answer to see how long I could last without cracking. We had that punishment relationship right from the start.

JORDAN MORRIS: You worked with Sam on Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, but then you also appeared in cameo roles in all three Spiderman movies. What was it like working with him on a big budget studio movie versus…

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It was great, it was hilarious really. I thought it was funny just to watch so many people kissing his ass just made me laugh. I’m like, wow. He always wore these rumpled suits, or he’d wear ties, he wore ties from early on, starting with Evil Dead 2 or something, even probably Crimewave. So the only difference now is that he wears an expensive rumpled suit. It’s still a rumpled suit, but now it’s a nice one.

The trick was finding the stage, I was wandering around the Sony lot and I asked some guy with a walkie-talkie, hey, where’s the stage for Spiderman? He laughed and goes, what do you mean what stage? We have twelve stages that are Spiderman. Oh, where’s the wrestling ring? That’s stage five, so I go over there, and there were 1200 extras. My whole day the first day shooting was, I’d ask some assistant director, hey, can you find out if I’m in the shot or not? It was like some sort of – – now we’re in the military. I had to ask 87 people to get a question to Sam, and then maybe you’d get an answer back. It was big, it jumped up to the next level. But once we get into scenes one on one, it’s always the same. Sam pokes me with a stick and we have a good time, and he makes fun of me in front of the crew and I let him do it because it makes him seem like he’s a Rasputin character. It’s a fun relationship.

JORDAN MORRIS: That was my guest Bruce Campbell as the wrestling announcer in Spiderman. We’ll hear about one of Bruce Campbell’s worst fan interactions after a break, plus I’ll ask him about the rumored Evil Dead remake. It’s The Sound of Young America from and PRI, Public Radio International.

It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jordan Morris in for Jesse Thorn. My guest is the cult icon Bruce Campbell.

Bruce, it’s funny to hear you talk about your early days making super eight and your early days in the community theater. People doing a lot of different jobs and people using resources that they have from their non creative life. It seems like a lot of the projects you still do still kind of have that quality, and I mean this in the best possible way, a kind of a home made quality to it. Is that aesthetic that you feel like you’re just drawn to?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It’s an aesthetic yeah, absolutely. The first Evil Dead we had the most control on anything we’ve ever done before or since. We had it structured with our limited partnership where the investors couldn’t actually set foot on the set unless we let them. They couldn’t read the script, they had no say in the editing, nothing. We were the general partners, they were the limited partners. We were responsible for taking their money. We were the movie experts, they were the money guys. We’ve never had that much leeway since.

Sam’s a big powerful director, and I bet he has a lot of pull on what stays in and what doesn’t, but you know there’s going to be – – there’s a lot of executives who are dog piling those screenings all with opinions, and it gets old. You make Super-8 movies and all you’re doing is screwing around and making movies and you put it together and some of them are great and some of them suck, but that’s just the way it goes. So getting back to that is something I’ve always wanted to do. A couple of years ago I finally made a movie of my property. It was the closest to going all the way back to the Super-8 days as we possibly could. I got all the old schmoes, lined them up, and we made a silly little movie.

JORDAN MORRIS: Are you talking about My Name is Bruce?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah. I built a little western town on my property.

JORDAN MORRIS: It’s funny, because I would actually like to play a clip from that movie.


JORDAN MORRIS: I should say in this movie, My Name is Bruce, which you directed as well, you star as actor Bruce Campbell, who is kind of down on his luck, I think you and your dog share belts of whiskey.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: From the same bowl.

JORDAN MORRIS: Right. So you’ve seen better days in this film, and then you kind of get recruited by this small town to kill a monster. The clip I wanted to play is from early in the film where you are coming off of a movie set and you get mobbed by a group of fans.


JORDAN MORRIS: So let’s hear that.

So Bruce, in this movie we kind of get a little portrait of your fans. Tell us about how – – tell us about Bruce Campbell fans. What are they like?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Bruce Campbell fans – – it’s the whole gamut. It’s mostly guys. So when I tour my wife is like, have fun with the 22 year old guys. It’s never women throwing panties; it’s guys who are hyper interested in certain things. It’s funny that there’s someone who is so passionate about it but in many cases they’ll come up to me at the table at a book signing or whatever and they won’t even be able to say anything. I’m like, you waited two hours to not say anything? This is your chance. I try and pull stuff out of them, but a lot of fans will hit me with the obscure thing.

One guy says, where’d you get the shotgun in Army of Darkness after the pit, and I’m like, I didn’t write the movie. I can’t answer that. The rudest fan I ever met was in a wheelchair, and so I had to have an ode to the guy in a wheelchair. He’s a veteran, the most sympathetic person you can think of, but the guy was relentlessly rude. I remember thinking that I wanted to push him in front of a bus, so in the movie I’m like, I’m gonna push this guy in front of a bus and let’s just see what happens.

And here’s the risk of making a meta-movie like that, there’s a guy in Iowa who’s like, wow, that Bruce Campbell, what a jerk. What a crappy life he’s got. It really confuses a lot of people. It’s awesome.

JORDAN MORRIS: In this movie you have a certain persona, and I think it’s definitely the one people associate with you. Very sarcastic, quippy, a lot of one liners. Do you ever feel pressure when you are just out in public meeting people to present that persona?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It was funny, I was walking through an airport and I was – – I was in a travel mood, it was a lousy travel day, happens to all of us. Guy walks by and goes, Bruce Campbell, let me shake your hand, and I look at him and I was like, maybe I will and maybe I won’t, and the guy goes, that’s exactly the answer I wanted, and kept going. So I was just crabby enough for that guy instead of being a sweetheart and saying, oh, let me meet your kids and sign everything.

JORDAN MORRIS: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jordan Morris in for Jesse Thorn. My guest is Bruce Campbell. These days you can catch him as the wise cracking Sam Axe on the USA Network’s Burn Notice. Here he is on the show on a stakeout with a fellow covert operative played by Gabrielle Anwar.

Now Bruce, on the surface your TV show Burn Notice seems really different from the other stuff you do. It’s a very slick high budget hit cable TV show. Does it seem different to you?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It’s weird, I’m more typecast by my fans than the industry itself. I made a French film, I made a film called Le Patte Noire, so I can say I’ve been in a French film. I’ve been in a lot of Disney stuff. I did a Western show for a year. So I think from the inside of the industry, I don’t feel like I get channeled as much, but the people who only watch what they watch, cause there are fans of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. who will not watch the Evil Dead movies because they’re Western people, not sci-fi.

So I kind of find when someone goes, hey, you’re the Evil Dead guy, that’s just because they really just watch horror movies. They haven’t seen Sky High or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, where I spend the other half of my time. I look at my paychecks and they’re all from Fortune 500 companies. Everyone thinks that Bubba Ho-tep was this cute little indie; well, it was, it was made for a very small amount of money, but who was it distributed by? MGM. The nice thing is that even corporations like little tiny movies.

JORDAN MORRIS: Is there anything that connects Burn Notice thematically to your other work?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: I would just say that the character I play, Sam Axe, he’s a former Navy SEAL, he’s kind of a smart ass, he’s a wise cracker and sort of a ladies man. It’s a bit of a continuation of the trash talking thing, but I naturally am drawn to that. If this was a spy show with serious squinty-eyed characters, I wouldn’t have touched this thing with a ten foot pole. But you talk with the creator Matt Nicks, you see what he wants to do, I felt like it was a completely unique take.

I hadn’t done TV in about ten years almost when this pilot came up. I was like, ooo, television. It gave me the shivers because of some bad experiences I had had before. But when I read it I was like, wow, this is about the human version of spies. That Michael Weston, sure, he’s going to blow something up with his girlfriend Fiona, but he’s gotta go fix his mom’s garbage disposal after that. I like that. You gotta have that, otherwise – – If you don’t care about the people that are getting shot at, then none of it matters.

JORDAN MORRIS: They have made an entire feature length film about your character. It’s kind of a prequel.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: They did, I kind of bullied them into it.

JORDAN MORRIS: That’s sort of what I was going to ask. It’s called The Fall of Sam Axe, it’s on DVD and Blu-ray now. Was this something that the creators had wanted to do since the show started, or was this something that came about through some other means?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It’s part me, part Matt Nicks. I was trying to think of other things to do to be part of the show. I didn’t really want to direct any episodes because it’s television, it’s too brutal. Matt Nicks had said, he saw Army of Darkness and he said to himself at that time, I want to write a movie for that guy. Then I showed him My Name is Bruce, and he’s like, if Bruce can write a movie for himself, then I can write a movie for the guy. I’m a better writer than that idiot. I’m gonna write a movie. It was a little of both.

I certainly encouraged it. Matt made it happen, and fortunately Fox agreed to finance it and USA agreed to air it. That was like convincing two different countries to get rid of their tariffs and stuff, Fox talking to Universal. It was tricky, but it happened, and fortunately somebody showed up to watch it, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. That would have been a drag to go through all that hassle, go to Bogota, Colombia, shoot up in the Andes Mountains and blow crap up and then to have it not work.

JORDAN MORRIS: So Bruce, obviously, you’re filming another season of Burn Notice now, any plans to go back to a more Bruce Campbell-y, Super-8y type of movie in the near future?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: We made enough money with My Name is Bruce, so I can probably con somebody into like – – all I really need is like, $2 million. It always kills me when I see these budgets. People will just randomly toss out a budget of like, $200 million. I could make a hundred movies for that, and I did the math. If I did a hundred movies for $2 million each, 30 of them would be pretty good, and I think I could make ten really enjoyable movies, maybe one classic, I don’t want to be arrogant here. Maybe a low budget classic, one out of one hundred, that’s fair odds.

Okay, you blew it on about 25 of them, those are the numbers. And, I don’t know. I want that money. I want to sneak into a studio and just put a hose in and siphon off and run it under the fence out to the parking lot and into my car. I only want a trickle of what they have, because that’s all you really need. I’m amazed that – – I’d love to figure out how to spend $200 million. How much do we pay that guy? I don’t know, give him whatever he wants. What does he want? He wants $50 thousand. Ah, give him a million! That’ll teach him!

JORDAN MORRIS: Bruce, I think it’s almost time to wrap things up here.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: It’s always about the budget. It’s always about the budget.

JORDAN MORRIS: This is a public radio show, and fairly high-minded and not the place for fan boy speculation, but I would never be able to attend a Comic Con again if I didn’t ask you – – word on the street is that there’s maybe a future for the Evil Dead franchise. Anything you can tell us about that?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yes, the remake is happening.


BRUCE CAMPBELL: The script has been written, Diablo Cody, interesting choice I would say, is doing another pass at it, and we have a fabulous filmmaker from Uruguay.

JORDAN MORRIS: And someone else will be playing your part, right? Ash?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: There’s no Ash character currently. You’ve still got your characters in a cabin, but it’s basically – – almost you could say a different group of people found this evil book. It’s going to be like putting on an old comfortable shoe, but it’s a different deal. A whole different deal. I’m too old for this movie.

JORDAN MORRIS: So you’ll just be attending as a fan?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah. I tried out for it, Sam was like, get out of the room.

JORDAN MORRIS: Well Bruce Campbell, it’s been a damn pleasure talking to you.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Thank you. I don’t say damn because this is public radio. This is high-minded, as you say. I wouldn’t be so crass, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.

JORDAN MORRIS: I thank you. I am very, very enthusiastic about our guest today, Bruce Campbell. He’s an actor in several cult classic horror movies. He can be now seen on the USA Network on the television show Burn Notice. The feature length movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe is on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Our transcripts are provided by Sean Sampson. If you’re interested in contacting him for transcription work, email him here.

In this episode...

Associate Producer
Maximum Fun Production Fellow
Maximum Fun Production Fellow


  • Bruce Campbell

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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Associate Producer

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

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