Bruce Campbell

Active - 1969 - Present  |   Born - Jun 22, 1958 in Royal Oak, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Fantasy, Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction, Action

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

A self-described B-movie actor, Bruce Campbell can claim to have scaled the casualty-littered mountain of cult movie stardom. First attaining more notoriety than fame for his performance in Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead (1983), which he also executive produced, Campbell went on to star in that movie's two sequels and a number of other schlock-tastic films. He has also occasionally ventured into more reputable territory, thanks to such films as the Coen brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy (1994).

Hailing from Royal Oak, MI, where he was born June 22, 1958, Campbell attended Western Michigan University. When he was only 21, he and two of his Detroit friends, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, scraped together 350,000 dollars to make a low-budget horror film. The result, completed piecemeal over four years, was The Evil Dead, an exuberantly awful piece of filmmaking that featured Campbell as its demon-battling hero. The film first earned notoriety in England, and after being personally endorsed by author Stephen King when it was screened at Cannes, it was eventually released in the U.S. in 1983.

The Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn followed in 1987, and the third installment in the series, Army of Darkness, was released in 1992. Both were enthusiastically embraced by fans of the series and less so by critics, but one thing that impressed both groups was Campbell's work in both films, thanks in part to his uncanny ability to make it through an entire performance without blinking once.

In addition to the Evil Dead films, Campbell has acted in a number of other low-budget films, and, in the case of the Coens' The Hudsucker Proxy and a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in Fargo (1996), a handful of fairly respectable projects as well. He has also acted frequently on television, most notably in the weekly Western The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and Jack of all Trades. In 2001 Campbell made his literary debut with If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. A humorously detailed account of his rise to B-movie stardom, If Chins Could Kill detailed, among other things, Campbell's uniquely diverse fanbase as well as his relationship with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Sam Raimi. When fans embraced the freewheeling semi-autobiography with more zeal than even Campbell himself may have anticipated, a succesful speaking tour was soon followed by a sophomore novel, the satirical Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. A highly fictionalized look at what it may be like for Campbell to land a substantial role in a high-profile Hollywood production, Make Love the Bruce Campbell way found the sarcastic B-movie idol hobnobbing with co-star Richard Gere and offering directorial advice to veteran director Mike Nichols. Yet Campbell was hardly one to forget where his bread was truly buttered, and following his brief literary detour, it was time to head back to the big screen for a pair of memorable cameos in pal Raimi's Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, the longtime actor and emerging producer was finally ready to make his feature directorial debut with the outlandish sci-fi comedy The Man with the Screaming Brain. Despite helming the occasional Xena and Hewrcules episode, Campbell had yet to tackle feature films and when the opportunity arose to direct a script that he himself had written, everything just seemed to fall into place. Though the critics weren't so kind, fans were more than willing to indulge as their favorite film and television star finally got a chance to shine on his own. After voicing his most famous character in a pair of Evil Dead videogames, it was finally time for Campbell to return to the role of Ash on the big screen - albiet in a decidedly meta-manner - when he stepped into the role of an actor named Bruce Campbell who is mistaken for the demon-slayer that he played in the movies and forced to to battle with the legions of hell in the 2006 horror comedy They Call Me Bruce; a film that also afforded Campbell his sophomore feature directorial credit. That same year, Campbell would also team with May director Lucky McKee for the chilling horror film The Woods.

Campbell found television success in the role of a good natured ex-Navy Seal on Burn Notice beginning in 2007, and lent his voice to animated features including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Cars 2. Campbell reunited with Raimi for Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and helped produce the 2013 revamp of The Evil Dead.

Movie Highlights

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  • Appeared in community-theater productions of Sweet Bird of Youth and South Pacific while in high school.
  • After meeting Sam Raimi in a high-school drama class, starred in a number of Super 8 films by future director Raimi and future movie producer Robert Tapert; later cast in most of Raimi's movies, including the Spider-Man series.
  • Made his big-screen debut in Raimi's 1981 cult classic Evil Dead as the one liner-spouting Ash, a role he reprised in sequels Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992).
  • Earned his first TV starring role as the title character in Fox's 1993-94 sci-fi/western The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
  • Released his first book in 2001, the New York Times bestselling memoir If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor; followed that in 2005 with a semi-autobiographical novel, Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way.
  • Won the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival's Film Discovery Jury Award for Best Actor for his role as Elvis in Don Coscarelli's acclaimed 2002 horror-comedy Bubba Ho-tep.
  • Directed and starred in the 2007 film My Name Is Bruce, which lampooned his career.
  • Traveled to Iraq in 2009 to visit the troops with his brother Don, who was a military adviser for the tour, and his Burn Notice costar Jeffrey Donovan.