Chin Up

Bruce Campbell on making love and screaming brains

In his new book Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, his sequel to If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Bruce Campbell recounts his finally landing a significant role in an A-list project. All those years of being drenched in Karo syrup in direct-to-Beta productions (Assault on Dome 4, Maniac Cop 2) and all those low-rent redos of big-money blockbusters (Tornado!) finally paid off, for once with a check big enough to actually deposit. He writes of his being cast in a romantic comedy titled Let's Make Love!, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Richard Gere and Renée Zellweger. Campbell, self-described "midgrade, kind of hammy actor," plays Foyl, the doorman at a swank New York hotel who dispenses pearls of wisdom to Gere's character, who wears them long enough to enchant the reluctant ingénue played by Zellweger. "It was one thing to work on a cheeseball, straight-to-DVD horror film for two weeks in Vancouver, where the only challenge is finding new ways to express fear or pain," Campbell writes. "But to act in a Mike Nichols film is to exist on another plane, with no 'B' anything in sight."

Only Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way is a work of fiction--the between-the-quotation-marks story ramblings of a guy who found himself on the bottom of the movie-biz food chain, started eating his way up and discovered he didn't have the taste for it. In the book, he claims to loathe making yet another Sci Fi Channel "epic" (if you can truly make an epic for a few thou) and schlepping to yet another convention in "Butt Crack, Kansas." But by book's end you needn't even strain to read between the lines to realize Campbell, in fact, adores the basic-cable lifestyle and doesn't at all mind signing posters for the freakin' freaky fans who believe he really is Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy made with Sam Raimi decades ago. Why else, in real life, would Campbell write, direct and star in the goofy, Frankenstein-meets-All of Me, Z-grade, set-in-Bulgaria The Man With the Screaming Brain, which debuts (where else?) on the Sci Fi Channel in September? Fake blood's in his blood.

Those of us who like the guy and will watch him in most anything (including the terrific Bubba Ho-Tep, but not the turgid Alien Apocalypse, another Sci Fi so-so) like to believe that eventually a major studio will cast him as The Leading Man in A Big Movie one of these days; he's George Clooney with an extra slice of cheese and three pounds of ham. But as Campbell explained to me four years ago, you're sadly mistaken if you believe he's a cult fave by accident.

"Look, I live where I want to live. I live in Oregon, so I don't have to play the L.A. game anymore, and that's cool enough for me. The older I get, the less I want people telling me what to do. It's amazing," Campbell said in 2001, laughing. "Between casting people and producers and directors and studios, there's an approach of, 'We're doing you a favor in giving you this role, because you can be in a Hollywood movie.' After a while, I look back and think, 'You know what? You're not doing me any favors. I'm doing you a favor, because I'm going to be the only actor who shows up who's not gonna freak out on you or not know his lines or whatever.'" This rant would, four years later, become the basis for Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, in which making a studio picture, well, freaks him out.

 
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