The phenomenon of Bruce Campbell – Working actor


Bruce Campbell discusses heroes, misconceptions, his brand and being a working actor.

“Don’t put actors up on pedestals.” – Bruce Campbell

Expectations Can Be Deceiving

Recently, actor Bruce Campbell sat down with Cojestgrane 24 Cultural Magazine to riff on fan expectations, his “brand” and being a working actor. For anyone who is familiar with the horror genre, Campbell has been an icon for close to 40 years. Mostly, in part for his portrayal of Ashley J. Williams in the Evil Dead trilogy.

However, for being a self-proclaimed B movie actor, his fanbase is rather extensive and fragmented. You have the Ash contingent who only know him from the Sam Raimi directed, ED films or his series Ash vs Evil Dead on STARZ. Then there is the Burn Notice crowd who remember his turn as the ex-Navy Seal, Sugar Mama loving, Sam Axe.

Another group that is just as passionate as the aforementioned ones is the Brisco County, Jr folks who never missed an episode back in the 90s. Even though Jack of All Trades had a limited cable run, it is still cited as a fan favorite. In truth, it is extremely rare to find an admirer of his that likes all of his work.

Any time he makes a personal appearance it is almost a guarantee that the venue will be sold out. People from all walks of life attend Cons and his book signings just to catch a glimpse of their favorite actor and exchange a few words.

All of these individuals have different expectations as to what Bruce Campbell the man will be like. While some enjoy his sarcastic banter, others hope that he will be closer in personality to Sam or Brisco. It is easy sometimes to confuse an actor with a character or persona eclipsing the real person lurking beneath.

Ash vs Evil Dead – A Tale of Two Ashes – Courtesy of STARZ

Bruce + Ash = Brash or Does It?

Meeting one’s idol can be daunting or it can be the experience of a lifetime. However, it gets complicated when expectations lead to misconceptions. When asked if he inhabits a persona for his appearances the actor had this to say.

“What’s the difference? Does it matter? Who will know? The people closest to me know my true face. I invited my brother to a show that I did in Michigan. He refused to attend. His reasoning was because he didn’t care for my stage persona. For him, it was too different from the real me and it was a negative.”

Bruce also went on to discuss an encounter he had with a fan. “I met a guy who said, ‘I met you in an airport and you weren’t nice at all.’ Actually, he was relieved that I wasn’t like the character I played.”

This all falls in line with similar comments that he made during our interview last year. “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.”

As he is fond of saying, “Never meet your heroes.” Sometimes that can lead to disappointment.

On Personal Branding

To some extent, actors are commodities in Hollywood. Hence the saying, “You are only as good as your last picture.” In today’s social media world, it is a must for anyone in the public eye to have a Twitter account, a Facebook page or pictures on Instagram.

It is all about marketing and presentation. The more your name is out on the “interwebs,” and the more visible you are that helps when you are looking for your next job. However, this can also lead to some interesting problems.

Case in point, how many times have we all read some crazy Tweet or Facebook post and thought what in the hell was that person thinking when they decided to put that nonsense out into the universe? If you watch the news, this is a daily occasion.

Celebrities are already under the microscope. Every action or reaction is documented and scrutinized. It is a fishbowl existence. Some enjoy the limelight and put all their personal discourse out there for public consumption.

While it can give said actor or actress a momentary signal boost it can also create a plethora of problems that will keep their publicists busy for days.

Bruce Campbell has some very specific thoughts on social media. “If you have a Twitter account, it’s like being a radio or television station. Throw whatever you want into the web: photos, words, thoughts. Many actors have problems because of this, so you have to be careful. That’s how I see it.”

So, does he have a personal brand? The answer is yes. “I am responsible. I care about it. We need to be aware of what we say, because things are not erased. Actors should take social media classes, 8 hours of classes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”

The Phenomenon of Bruce Campbell

While Bruce has his share of fans, I wouldn’t exactly call him a phenomenon. This implies that he stumbled onto them which is totally incorrect. They were attracted because of his diligent work over the course of many years.

When he was asked about this terminology, his answer was typically witty but honest. “Phenomenon? This is a very small phenomenon.” He explains his popularity very pragmatically.

“I just like playing average people. Real people with disadvantages. That’s Ash. In “Ash vs Evil Dead” he has a lot of them: he drinks, smokes and does Angel Dust.”

“Ash has a tendency toward addiction, makes bad decisions and many people die. I like this. I hope that people watching this series will think: ‘He is like me. I’m a mechanic. This guy is nothing special.’”

On summing himself up in a few sentences: “Bruce Campbell is a working actor. I’ve been working for 39 years and that’s what I always wanted.”

Watch Bruce on STARZ every Sunday in Ash vs Evil Dead at 9 p.m.

What is your favorite Bruce role? Feel free to share your comments in the space below. We want to hear from you.

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

Susan Leighton can be found on Twitter and Facebook @SusanontheLedge. She can also be heard talking up Ash vs Evil Dead every Monday night on the Nerdrotics Podcast at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT as well as their Pop Culture Wrap Ups every Friday night at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.