Bruce Campbell Interview: Evil Dead hero more than blood and boomsticks

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A Cautionary Tale

1428 Elm: For ‘Hail to the Chin’, there are some personal moments interspersed throughout the book. I am thinking in particular about the DUI incident.

Are you comfortable divulging that type of information particularly if it’s painful or embarrassing? How do you get past it to get to the story you want to tell? 

BC: Not every story can be happy go lucky, not every story has a happy ending. Visiting the troops in Iraq — it’s not a real “ha ha” chapter because it’s not a real “ha ha” experience. So, part of what I hope people can take away from it, is don’t put actors up on pedestals.

They don’t belong there. They never have. Same with athletes, same with politicians. We make stupid decisions all the time.

I hope people can learn from it too. Getting a DUI is a cautionary tale. Mind your p’s and q’s after that. I got stuck in the legal system. It’s very costly.

The Art of Improv with Bruce Campbell

1428 Elm: Let’s go back to the past on this question. You contributed to the story of Josh Becker’s ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill…. Except’. Prior to that, did you ever dabble in writing any of the shorts that you guys did?

BC: Sure. Everybody participated in a lot of them. It was a very open process. You know the lines of demarcation were not drawn. A lot of people suggested ways to shoot it or kicked in money.

Whoever put in the most money was the producer. A bunch of guys would write the different scripts but then when we were shooting, we made a lot of stuff up. It was very freeform. It wasn’t like when you start to join unions where your jobs are easily defined.

I have never liked where things are too rigid. Not in the arts. That is why I could never work on a TV show that Aaron Sorkin does. I’d get fired for not sticking to every single word in the script.

1428 Elm: Did you study improv? You have a flair for it.

BC: Most of it is, if you can relax in what you do and enjoy it, then it will come easier. It’s mostly when you get over being uptight and nervous on stage. It just comes with confidence.

1428 Elm: You did a really great job on WGN parodying James Lipton’s ‘Inside the Actors Studio’. Do you find those questions he asks to be pretentious?

BC: Of course! They all are. You know the Lipton show is pretentious. It’s almost like a self-parody.

1428 Elm: Have they ever approached you to be on the show?

BC: No. I doubt I’ll ever be on James Lipton’s show. My work is not serious enough for that.

Routines, Lollygagging for Ideas and the Joy of Solitude

— Courtesy of Renaissance Pictures

1428 Elm: Some writers tend to have a routine almost like an athlete. In Neil Simon’s case, he writes in longhand in notebooks with thin lines. What is your routine?

How many hours do you write? Morning or night writer? Do you have a word limit like “I have to write 5,000 words every day?”

BC: I don’t play the word game. I write first thing in the morning. I’m a morning guy. I write from 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. until about 11 a.m. Then I’m done. I want to go out and do something physical. My brain is fried.

1428 Elm: Do you enjoy the solitude of writing?

BC: Yeah, I do. I don’t mind it. I don’t mind being alone. It helps me. Some people go to a crowded café. Nah, I don’t need people bugging me.

1428 Elm: When you are out hiking, do you ever get any ideas?

BC: Sure, I do. For me, that is when my mind wanders. While I wander, my mind wanders. That’s when you get ideas you didn’t have before. You’re sort of free forming.