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Bruce Campbell Talks Evil Dead Re-Make, Fake Shemps and the Butt of Jean-Claude Van Damme

It’s no lie to say that we’re huge, huge Bruce Campbell fans around here. so when the man himself sauntered into our office, we had to ask him a question or 60. The guy is every bit as charming, funny and entertaining as you’d expect (Bruce, you said you’d give us $50 for typing that, right?)

What did you do for Halloween?
I don’t do anything on Halloween.


Your fans might be disappointed by that.
Are they shocked to realize that I’m my own person?

Well, some of them, probably, yeah.

Well they’re gonna have to be. It’s the one time of year that I don’t have to wear a stupid costume! I do charge on Halloween, though. So I’ll wear a silly outfit, but it’s gonna cost you.

Out of interest, had we wanted you here in our office on Halloween in a stupid costume, how much would that set us back?
Ten to twenty thousand dollars. If you really want to talk turkey.

Okay, I think we can probably raise that.
Do it, do it!

So what can you tell us about Sam Raimi’s new movie, Oz The Great And Powerful?
It’s gonna be big and fat and cumbersome, and giant. He has like five movie stars in it - it’s kind of ridiculous.

Can you tell us what sort of size part you have? Is it like a Spiderman 3 type?
It’s a Spiderman 3 type. It’s pivotal. It’s crucial to the movie.

Go on…

Well, because they’re trying to get into Oz, right? Well, there might be someone who makes it difficult, let’s just say that. They’re gonna come after me if I tell you more. They have deep pockets; they’ll sue me up one side and down the next.

But it’s more than a fake shemp deal?
Yeah, it is, it is. And I keep telling Sam, “I’ll be in your dumb movie as long as I get a scene with the star. I’m not gonna do the scene with some fifth lead.” He understands that. So I get to mess with James Franco. He may or may not get into Oz…

You’re listed as “Wedding Shemp” in The Quick And The Dead, but you’re not in the actual movie. Is there a deleted scene somewhere?
No - here’s the truth about that scene. Sam Raimi was having difficulty with an actor called Pat Hengel, a very well know character actor. In the story of The Quick and the Dead, his daughter is taken away by a scummy guy and becomes a prostitute. And he kept bugging Sam the whole movie, “My character doesn’t do anything to defend my daughter. I would defend her.” And for literally weeks he would follow Sam around and go, “Well are you going to do anything about that?” And Sam’s like, Jesus Christ okay, just shut up already. So I had one day off of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., so I went to visit Sam on the set. As soon as I get there he grabs me: “Come you, I need your help!” I’m like, Sam I’m not here to do anything, I’m not here to work. He goes, “Shut up, shut up!” throws me into makeup and goes, “Make him look like he’s slept in a gutter overnight.” I’m like, for what, Sam? “Shut up, you don’t need to know, you don’t need to know.” His favorite answer to me is “shut up”.

Then he grabs me again after that, literally he’s grabbing me, he’s shoving me into wardrobe now. “Make him look like he stinks.” He concocted a whole scene he had no intention of using with me and Pat, where I come up to his daughter as the scummy guy and go, “Hey girly girl, you and me gonna do the Devil’s Dance!” And then he goes “Now Pat, you want to defend your daughter right? After he says this, you come up behind, you get him around the neck, you drag him away from your daughter, you spin around and you kick him in the ass! And I mean kick him!” Eight or nine takes, he’d tell Pat do it more, more, “You don’t seem angry enough, Pat!” Meanwhile this guy is kicking me, and he’s grabbing me around the neck, and he’s shoving me. So Pat Hengel walks away thinking that he’s the most influential actor ever. Sam turns to me and goes, “Well, were not even gonna process the film. Thanks Bruce.” He did it just to shut an actor up. I ruined my entire day getting beat to shit for Sam so he could shut an actor up.

That’s amazing. And you don’t even have the footage yourself?

I wish. I wish that he had at least had the courtesy to do that.

Do you think Sam secretly has that footage on a loop somewhere in his house?
Oh, he shows every famous person who comes through. “Look what I made Bruce Campbell do.” I don’t know what he did with it - he can shove it up his ass for all I care.

Not many people know that Sam Raimi executive-produced the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Hard Target. Did you ever meet JCVD?
I met him back when he still was kind of a loser, pre-Bloodsport, when he drove a shitty white pickup truck. We tried to do a couple of projects together because we had the same manager for about an hour.

What was he like?
He was very confident. We had a meeting - it was great because he fancies himself. He announced, “The women, they love my ass!” So in almost every movie, he has to do the splits and show his ass: It’s just a tight little bubble butt. If you got it, flaunt it, I guess. And he would say, “I will edit all of my own love scenes.” So he would make these big announcements every day. And when I had a meeting with him, it was with a woman executive, and the whole time he would say, “And we will do this buddy movie, eh. The two of us are like brothers.” And he’s winking at her the whole time. I’m like, is this going to get the movie made, really? You winking at the executive? Women in America don’t like that Jean-Claude. “Ah, They are confused.”

Can you do the splits?
I never could. I did blow my hamstring fighting a stuntman on Burn Notice.

That must have really hurt.
Yeah, you could hear it when it happened. It was a pop. I had to kick a stunt guy in the face, and it was just a little too quick. I’m on the ground clutching my leg and the director goes, “Should we cut?” I’m like, yeah, cut and get a fucking van here right now. So then the next episode, there was a lot of this [stands with one leg up on a chair, keeping very still, chin in hand, nodding], ”Tell me about that.”

We briefly mentioned that sometimes your fans might have some trouble separating you from your characters.
Very often, but that’s pop culture, that’s not just me.

Sure, but your hardcore fans have, well…
A certain fervor to it, yeah.

With that in mind, what kind of effect did My Name Is Bruce have on them? Do they think you live in a trailer?
The sad thing is, there’s gonna be two people in Des Moines, Iowa who think that I drink whiskey out of a dog bowl. They’re gonna believe that. To me, the joy is confusing the shit out of people. They don’t really get it, like, why would you be so cruel to yourself?

How can people have such affection for your movies if it seems like they must be missing the joke half the time?
I don’t know. Movies are weird, they affect people in a weird way.

If someone saw Evil Dead II the whole way though and didn’t laugh once, were just flat out terrified the whole way…
Then they deserve to be terrified. We called that “splatstick.”

So you’ve mentioned before that your favorite question in the whole world is, “So, Bruce, when can we expect Evil Dead 4?”
We’re finally doing the re-make!

After years and years of making fun of that question! So what can you tell us about it?
Well, that it’s not the sequel. I put it on Twitter, I told the entire world that it’s a remake. “So how’s the sequel going?” Like, wow, can you read? We just decided to do it because we wanted to share our different version with a new generation. It’s been so long now - it’s been 32 years since we made that movie. So we think it’s okay. People get all pissed off because there’s no Ash character – “How can you have an Evil Dead without Ash?” I’m like, don’t worry about it.

It seems like a fair question, though.
It is a fair question, but it’s about the book, it’s not about those five actors. This is a new situation, a new group of kids going through another version of hell.

Do you think there will be anything in it that can compare to the tree scene?
I don’t know, but there’s some crazy shit in the script, there’s no doubt about it. It’s twisted!

The fifth season of Burn Notice is airing now on the USA Network