Author's Note Rising
This interview was conducted with Bruce Campbell in March of 2005, several weeks before the premiere of Alien Apocalypse on the Sci-Fi Channel, and its subsequent release on DVD. The film set a new ratings record for the network for an original, stand-alone film (over 2.7 million viewers) and at last word, the DVD is performing at 117% of projected sales.
Thanks so much for taking a break out of your busy schedule to fill us in on your latest projects.
Your made-for-cable film Terminal Invasion scored impressive ratings for the Sci-Fi Channel back in 2002, despite its modest budget and low-key special effects. Soon after, you had lined up a two-picture deal with them, which over several years evolved into your current star turn in Alien Apocalypse, and your feature-directing debut with the upcoming Man With The Screaming Brain. Tell us how the process worked: who was courting or pitching to whom, and how did everything become finalized?
Bruce Campbell with Chase Masterson in Terminal Invasion
I had Brain sitting at Sci-Fi for a while, but they didn't respond. After Terminal Invasion, I got the "Hey, what else you got?" call from Sci-Fi. I told them that Brain is right under their noses - so they read it and off we went.
In your book, you address the issue of being a working actor, moving back and forth between big-budget films, indies, and B-movies, and how in the end, you're pursuing the career you love. Yet some might easily dismiss a direct-to-cable feature called Alien Apocalypse (or Bubba Ho-Tep, or Maniac Cop for that matter) based on the title or the budget alone. At the same time, we see "name" stars commanding $20 million plus salaries in bloated $100 million epics, which tank at the box office and are savaged by critics and shunned by audiences. Could you comment, from an actor's perspective, on what difference there may be for you? In other words, would Bruce as Alexander the Great or the Last Samurai be somehow more significant than Bruce as Ash, Bruce as Elvis, or Bruce as the Great Healer?
Well, as an actor, you have to do your best in whatever you are in - genre or budget be damned. It's not about the project, it's about the approach, and you can't change that.
Bruce Campbell with Renee O'Connor in Alien Apocalypse
Tell us about your character in Alien Apocalypse, Dr. Ivan Hood. How is he similar or different from other heroic roles you've played?
Ivan isn't really the typical hero. He winds up being the default hero because everyone else around him dies. The character also jokes around a lot, and I like that because heroes can be so dull.
Alien Apocalypse is a straightforward action film, although the director has said that it's full of irony; irony, in the hands of a gifted actor, can produce some laughs as well. While the plot is basically humans vs. aliens in the future, do you see any deeper message or meaning?
I think art should be entertainment, first and foremost, and it's fine if you slip in something more substantial. There is irony in Alien - in that he wants to be a doctor but instead, he ends up being an ass-kicking alien killer.
Bruce Campbell as a man with a screaming brain
Josh Becker directed you in your first film - the Super-8 opus Oedipus Rex, for a junior high school project. Three decades later, and you've collaborated with him on screenplays, he's directed you in Running Time, episodes of Jack of All Trades, and now Alien Apocalypse, plus you co-produced and co-starred in his film Lunatics: A Love Story. Given that you are old friends... what do you like about him as a director and writer that leads you to continued collaboration?
We don't have to beat everything to death, and we know how each other likes to work. I like working with people for long periods of time, because movies are difficult and you don't need the personality issues to ruin a good experience. Josh is also very well prepared, and a very capable director.
Bruce Campbell having a bad day
You've also known Renee O'Connor for a decade or more now, and watched her mature from an ingenue to a mature leading lady (and mom!) Tell us about Renee the actor vs. Renee the person, and how it was to work with her once again.
It was great to work with her again. Josh and I were looking for the right type of project to re-unite. Renee is totally professional and a sweet person - what's not to like? She looked great in the space suit.
Bulgaria has become quite the hot spot for filming now, especially for genre and Sci-Fi Channel productions. Given that you also worked in New Zealand for a number of years - how do both countries compare to the U.S., and do you think this increasing exodus from Hollywood will help or hurt genre and/or mainstream production?
The U.S. for me is always the desired place to shoot because of the experience you can draw on. Bulgaria was a very interesting experience, sociologically, but as far as a place to make movies - they have a way to go. New Zealand totally gets it, and they have a fully functional industry.
Bruce Campbell with Ossie Davis in Bubba Ho-Tep
You've been a cult favorite for an entire generation of fans, and your book celebrates your B-movie icon status. Yet recently you seem to have moved up to a new level - giving talks not just to fan conventions, but to college classes; being profiled not just in Fangoria, but in Entertainment Weekly too; hosting specials not just for Sci-Fi, but for Bravo and American Movie Classics as well. Why now? Is it just long-overdue recognition and acclaim? Is America just now learning how to embrace and appreciate its inner Bruce?
I think it's because I never went away. DVDs have also been an excellent way for folks to catch up on my old stuff, and sometimes that fuels interest in general.
A significant amount of this recent acclaim seems to have come from your touching, elegiac portrayal of an aging Elvis Presley in Bubba Ho-Tep (even though Elvis manages to get in a few good wisecracks too.) As you grow older over the next few decades, do you see yourself continuing your recognizable screen persona (as John Wayne, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, James Garner, and so many others did well into their 50's and beyond?) Or could you envision transitioning into more mature character roles, a la Fredric March, James Cagney, and Paul Newman?
I'm happy to work, period, but it'll be fun to see what the future brings. I'm all for getting into more mature characters. I've managed to do a lot of character roles over the years, so I'll hopefully just become an older working actor and that's fine by me.
Bruce Campbell in Lunatics: A Love Story
You've taken charge of your career repeatedly - producing films such as Evil Dead in which you starred; leaving behind production to take a stab at being a Hollywood leading man; parlaying your TV work into directing gigs; making forays into stage work (Shane) books and even video games! What's next? Could you see yourself becoming a big-time director/producer?
I have a new book (and audio book) and a couple of comics coming out this year, so it'll be interesting to see if folks still want to see what I'm up to. I'm gonna tour 45 cities this summer, so they can check my schedule at Bruce Campbell Online. And there you have it - shop smartů.
Alien Apocalypse Unofficial Site
B Movies Invade Your TV
Attack of the Popular B Horror Films
Reviews of Alien Apocalypse
Box Office Prophets
Inside the Head of Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell Was a Hit
Xena and Hercules Episodes With Bruce Campbell
H2.1 The King of Thieves: Autolycus
X1.17 The Royal Couple of Thieves: Autolycus
X2.13 The Quest: Autolycus/Xena
H3.19 The End of the Beginning: Autolycus
H4.1 Beanstalks & Bad Eggs: Autolycus
X3.8 The King of Assassins: Autolycus
H4.12 Men In Pink: Autolycus
H4.15 Yes Virginia, There Is a Hercules: Robert Tapert
H4.16 Porkules: Autolycus
H4.17 One Fowl Day: Autolycus
H4.18 My Fair Cupcake: Autolycus
X3.19 Tsunami: Autolycus
X3.20 Vanishing Act: Autolycus
H5.4 Genies and Grecians and Geeks, Oh My!: Autolycus
X4.6 A Tale of Two Muses: Autolycus/Philipon
H5.9 For Those of You Just Joining Us: Robert Tapert
X4.10 Key To the Kingdom: Autolycus
H5.14 Just Passing Through: Autolycus
X4.19 Takes One To Know One: Autolycus
H6.5 Hercules, Tramps & Thieves: Autolycus
August Krickel is my real name, believe it or not, it's German, and refers to Caesar, Augustus Caesar, not to the month. I'm a native South Carolinian, and a fan of mythology since reading a comic book version of THE ILIAD as a little boy. This led me to study Classics at Vanderbilt U., at the U. of Georgia, and the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, but I currently work in university administration. Over the past 20 years, however, I have had a sideline career as free-lance actor, director, and drama critic, working/studying with Oscar winners Ben Kingsley and Delbert Mann, and appearing most recently as the narrator of the touring WWII-themed stage show, THE ROAD TO VICTORY. This double interest in myth and drama has made XWP my favorite show. I last interviewed Adrienne Wilkinson for Whoosh!
Favorite episode: THE PRICE (44/220), A GOOD DAY (73/405)
Favorite line: Joxer: "Ok, then its settled. We're a team. Joxer the Mighty, and his mighty band of mighty men. Girls. Joxer the Mighty and his fighting mighty women fighters. Fighting." IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)
First episode seen: THE TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LITTLE PROBLEMS (98/508), KING CON (61/315)