His acting style is an "over-the-top" machismo that lends itself well to roles such as that of Ash Williams, whom Campbell himself has dubbed "an idiot and a jerk like the rest of us". This style is parodied in the film The Majestic where Campbell appears as Roland the Intrepid Explorer in the B movie Sand Pirates of the Sahara, written by Jim Carrey's screenwriter character. Campbell also excels at "reverse acting", a frequent filming technique of Sam Raimi's where action sequences are filmed in reverse of how they will appear in the film. Campbell offers advice about getting into the film industry on his website. He is currently starring as Sam Axe in Burn Notice on the USA Network.
Campbell is well-known for his trademark sense of humor, which he often couples with deadpan (and somewhat sarcastic) comic delivery.
Campbell was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, the son of Joanne Louise (née Pickens), a homemaker, and Charles Newton Campbell, an amateur actor and traveling billboard inspector. He has an older brother, Don, and an older half-brother, Michael. Campbell lives on a lavender farm in Jacksonville, Oregon, with his wife, costume designer Ida Gearon. He is of Scottish ancestry.
His first wife was Christine Deveau (from 1983 to 1989). They had two children, Rebecca and Andy.
Campbell began acting as a teenager and soon began making small Super 8 movies with friends. After meeting Sam Raimi in Wylie E. Groves High School, the two became very good friends and started making movies together. Campbell would go on to attend Western Michigan University while he continued to work on his acting career.
Major film rolesEdit
A few years later, Bruce and Sam Raimi got together with other family and friends and began work on The Evil Dead. Campbell starred and worked behind the camera, receiving a "co-executive producer" credit; Raimi wrote, directed and edited. Following an endorsement by horror writer Stephen King the film slowly began to receive distribution rights. Four years following its original release, it was the UK that first landed this film in a serious manner, making it for a short while the number 1 seller. Following Britain's interest, America started taking the independent film seriously enough to start its own distribution, spawning two sequels: Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Campbell's best-known role is as Ashley J. "Ash" Williams, and he has appeared in many of Raimi's films outside of the Evil Dead series, notably including the Spider-Man film series. Campbell often takes on quirky roles, such as Elvis Presley in the film Bubba Ho-Tep, and appears in films that go straight to video or cable TV. Along with Bubba Ho-Tep, Campbell played a supporting role in the 2005 film Sky High, and is starring in the upcoming My Name is Bruce.
Campbell was supposed to star in Darkman, but the studio reportedly insisted on Liam Neeson, unsure of Campbell's ability to play the role. Campbell stayed on behind the scenes, credited as "additional voice recording", and appears as the "Final Shemp" in the film's last shot. He was also one of the final contenders for the role of The Phantom in Paramount Pictures' big budget film version of the popular comic strip, but it ultimately went to Billy Zane instead, who had lobbied to get the part for years. His fellow Hercules: The Legendary Journeys cast member, the late Kevin Tod Smith, was also one of the final three contenders for the role of Lee Falk's legendary superhero. Among other roles Campbell was considered for, was the role that later went to Dylan Walsh in Congo, while Campbell was cast in another role as an ill-fated scientist who kicks off the film's story.
Campbell undertakes numerous cameo appearances in films, and is known to pop up in all genres of film, often to serve as a comic relief. He has made cameo appearances in all three Spider-Man films. In Spider-Man, he played the wrestling announcer who dubbed Peter Parker "The Amazing Spider-Man." In Spider-Man 2, he played a snooty usher named Dylan Reid, referred to in the novelization by Peter David, who criticizes Peter Parker's appearance at length before refusing to let him into the theater, thereby causing a rift with Mary Jane. Campbell is extremely proud of this particular cameo, stating that he is the only villain to have thwarted Spider-Man and gotten away with it. His appearance in Spider-Man 3 was as a French maitre d' recruited by Peter Parker to aid in proposing to Mary Jane. Campbell also lent his voice to the related Spider-Man video games, serving as narrator and comic relief. Raimi had planned for Campbell to either play one of two villains, The Lizard or Mysterio.
Campbell has made a cameo in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters as Chicken Bittle. He also appears as a deranged plastic surgeon in John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.. Campbell has also had several small parts in the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen, appearing as a soap opera actor in the film Intolerable Cruelty, as well as bit parts in The Hudsucker Proxy and The Ladykillers. In Fargo he can be seen on the television at the kidnappers hideout, in stock footage from TV soap opera Generations which is worth noting as the show on which he met his first wife. Campbell also played a small role in Congo, where he is immediately torn to shreds by savage gorillas. Campbell also made a short appearance in the Raimi film Darkman, in which he played one of Darkman's life-like disguises in the ending sequence.
Campbell was offered the part of the exterminator in Men in Black, but turned it down in order to take the lead role in the TV movie Tornado!.
Television and video gamesEdit
Outside of film, Campbell has appeared in a number of television series. He starred in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. a boisterous Sci-fi comedy western created by Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse (who went on to write and produce ABC's Lost) that ran for one season. He played a lawyer turned bounty hunter who was trying to hunt down John Bly, the man who killed his father. He went on to kill John Bly with the orb, a ball of immense technology sent back from the 5000's. He also starred in the television series Jack of All Trades, set on a fictional island, occupied by the French in 1801. He played the role of an American spy, and a masked crusader known as The Daring Dragoon. Campbell was also credited as co-executive producer, among others. The show was directed by Eric Gruendemann, and was produced by various individuals, including Sam Raimi. The show aired for two seasons, from 2000 to 2001. He had a recurring role as bad guy "Bill Church, Jr" in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" in the mid-90's.
In 1996/1997, Campbell was a recurring guest star on the show Ellen as Ed Billik, who becomes Ellen's Boss when she sells her bookstore in season four. This comedic role from Campbell showed him competing for power in the bookstore, with Ellen struggling to give up her role as the owner.
He is also known for his supporting role as the recurring character Autolycus ("the King of Thieves") on the fantasy series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. Campbell also played Hercules/Xena series producer Rob Tapert in two present day-set episodes of Hercules. He directed a number of episodes of Hercules and Xena., including the "Hercules" Series Finale. In addition to these more light-hearted parts, he also had a critically acclaimed dramatic guest role as a grief-stricken detective seeking revenge for his father's murder in a two-part episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.
Ironically, even though at the time he had decided to pursue more purely dramatic roles, Campbell did not audition for this part. Homicide producer Tom Fontana was a fan of Campbell's and phoned him one day asking if Bruce had any ideas for appearing on the show. Campbell later played the part of a polygamous demon in the X-Files episode "Terms of Endearment", a performance that was well-received by his fanbase for its serious dramatic nature and teased by Campbell as an ad for his new haircut (which, he said was "very, very short.") He also starred as Agent Jackman in the episode "Witch Way Now?" of the WB series Charmed, as well as playing an FBI agent in an episode the short-lived series American Gothic titled "Meet the Beetles."
He has had many appearances in other television shows, including Robot Chicken as himself, endorsing "Morning Wood".
Campbell is featured as a voice actor in several video game titles. He provides the voice of Ash in the three latest Evil Dead-themed games, as well as titles such as Pitfall 3-D: Beyond the Jungle, Spider-Man: The Movie, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. He also provides the voice of main character Jake Logan in the PC title, Tachyon: The Fringe and the voice of Magnanimous in Megas XLR.
Campbell has also appeared in television commercials for Old Spice. The first ad featuring Campbell began airing in January 2007 and features him discussing experience and those who do or do not have it. The end of the ad features the words "Experience is Everything". There is a chainsaw and Necronomicon visible in the background of this commercial, undoubtedly a sly reference to the Evil Dead films. A second ad began airing in the spring of 2007, featuring Campbell performing a lounge music version of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" on the piano for a group of five attractive women.
On June 28, 2007 the new television series Burn Notice premiered on the USA Network. In it Bruce Campbell plays a former special ops Cold Warrior named Sam Axe who has devoted his post-conflict years to drinking and having as much sex on the beach as he can. The show is scheduled for thirteen episodes this season, and has been renewed for a second season scheduled for summer of 2008.
In addition to acting and occasionally directing, Campbell has become a writer, including authoring an autobiography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, which traces his career as an actor in low-budget movies and television. The paperback version of the book adds a chapter about the reaction of fans at book signings. "Whenever I do mainstream stuff, I think they're pseudo-interested, but they're still interested in seeing weirdo, offbeat stuff. And that's what I'm attracted to."
Campbell has also written a book entitled Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way, a comical novel featuring himself as the main character struggling to make it into the world of A-list movies. He later recorded an audio play adaptation of Make Love with fellow Michigan actors including long time collaborator Ted Raimi. This radio drama styled interpretation of the novel was released through independent label Rykodisc and spans 6 discs with a 6 hour running time.
In addition to his novels, Campbell also wrote a column for X-Ray Magazine in 2001, an issue of the popular comic series The Hire, comic book adaptations of his Man With The Screaming Brain and most recently he wrote the introduction to Josh Becker's "The Complete Guide To Low Budget Feature Film Making".
In a Starbucks campaign known as "The Way I See It", Campbell offered the following advice which adorned certain coffee cups:
The Way I See It #65: If you're worried about getting a job--or keeping one--start a company of your own. By doing so, you'll reap the rewards of your hard work and you'll only get fired if you fail. This is the land of opportunity. Live in it.
After being a guest of honor at Origins in 1996, Campbell became interested in the Role Playing Game Deadlands which he described as a cross between Evil Dead and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.. He wrote several intros to pre-made Deadlands adventures.
- Within the Woods (1979)
- The Evil Dead (1981)
- Going Back (1983)
- Crimewave (1985)
- Evil Dead 2 (1987)
- Maniac Cop (1988)
- Moontrap (1989)
- Mindwarp (film) (1990)
- Darkman (1990)
- Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1991)
- Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)
- Army Of Darkness (1993)
- The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
- Congo (1995)
- The Demolitionist (1995)
- Tornado (1996)
- Menno's Mind (1996)
- Escape From L.A. (1996)
- Running Time (1997)
- In the Line of Duty: Blaze of Glory (1997)
- McHale's Navy (1997)
- The Love Bug (1997)
- The Ice Rink (1998)
- Icebreaker (1999)
- From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)
- The Majestic (2001)
- Timequest (2002)
- Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
- Spider-Man (2002)
- Terminal Invasion (2002)
- Serving Sara (2002)
- Comic Book: The Movie (2004)
- Spider-Man 2 (2004)
- Alien Apocalypse (2005)
- Man with the Screaming Brain (2005)
- Sky High (2005)
- The Woods (2006)
- The Ant Bully (2006)
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007)
- Spider-Man 3 (2007)
- My Name Is Bruce (2008)
- Generations (1989)
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994)
- Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1995)
- Homicide: Life on the Street (1996)
- Ellen (1996 & 1997)
- Xena: Warrior Princess (1996-1999)
- X-Files (1999)
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999)
- Jack Of All Trades (2000-2001)
- Burn Notice (2007)
- El Tigre: The Adventures Of Manny Rivera (2007)