"As Fangoria put it, it's a love letter to my fans dipped in poison," says Bruce Campbell of his new meta-flick My Name Is Bruce, in which he directs and stars as a B-movie actor named Bruce Campbell. "It's an acerbic love letter."
The Bruce of Bruce is a hard-drinking, fan-harangued, morally suspect genre actor, one who lives in a trailer and stars in films like Cave Alien II. So when über-fan Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) knocks him over the head with a baseball bat and drags him to Gold Lick, Oregon, to fight an evil monster, Bruce thinks it's an elaborate birthday present from his smarmy agent (Ted Raimi). Mistaken for his character Ash from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, Bruce is enlisted to help fight a demonic Chinese god—and, unaware that the monster is real, he takes on the challenge with characteristic zeal. As is usually the case, Campbell's bravado and swagger make him the best damned reason to see any film, period—take one exchange in Bruce, when a fan asks, "Did being on Ellen make you gay?" and Campbell counters with, "No, but that question did." That's My Name Is Bruce—funny, self-referential, and full of Campbell verve.
Bruce is near and dear to Campbell, in more ways than one—it was filmed on Campbell's actual property, a lavender farm near Medford, Oregon. "Most of it was filmed on my property. Now I have a Western town [we built there] that I can't get rid of. It's so big I can't take it down. It confuses the hell out of delivery people—some guy comes up and he's like, 'I didn't know there was a town of Gold Lick out here!' My wife and I say, 'Let's meet out by the tavern!' or 'I'll meet you in the livery!' It's a great conversation piece."
I doubt Campbell needs much in the way of conversation starters—he's a man who's got a lot to say, especially when he was directing himself in Bruce. "It's only bad when I get in an argument with myself. I walked off the set a couple times [on Bruce], and I had to direct around that actor. Well, what I did was I told him I was just going to step in front of the camera and do this myself. It's not that hard! I showed him. Bruce Campbell's not even in the movie anymore! I put myself in it. That'll show those uppity actors," Campbell says.
Speaking via phone from Madison, Wisconsin—where he's in city 12 out of a 22 city tour promoting Bruce—Campbell promises the Portland event will be an experience. "We've broken the East Coast's back, and we've punched the Midwest in the face. Now we're going to attack the West Coast. We're going to kick [Portland] in the teeth. We'll do whatever a 20-year-old homeless slacker would want us to do... force feed it?"
One question Cambell inevitably gets asked in his Q&As is about the long-hoped for Evil Dead 4. "I was in a room once and someone asked," he says. "So I asked how many people there had wanted Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Two people raised their hands out of 200. I think it's pretty much the same for Evil Dead 4—even if we made a bang-up movie, there would still be disappointment. I mean, it's been 16 years since Army of Darkness, and 30 years since we filmed the first one. That's a long time. Anyway, [director] Sam [Raimi] is a top Hollywood director now—he's really busy with Spider-Man."
Ask Campbell your own smartass fanboy questions at this weekend's screenings of Bruce, like, "In Army of Darkness, how did Ash shoot his double-barreled shotgun three times in a row?," or, "In My Name Is Bruce, you say the Candyman comes out if you say his name three times, but it's really five times. Did you know that?" Then sit back and wait for the snappy one-liners.