Interview copyright 1996 by Charles McGrew. This interview may be
freely viewed and reposted, so long as this copyright message is
maintained in full.|
[Comments from myself made after the fact appear in brackets.
This is presented exactly as it occurred; as a result, I
may not come off as particularly intelligent, but then you're
not reading this to concern yourself about how I sound. This
interview was performed over the phone.]
Bruce Campbell: Hey, so when do you want to do do this?
Charles McGrew: It's entirely up to you
BC: How much time do you need?
CM: That's up to you, too.
BC: When can you be ready?
CM: I'm ready now; I can be ready any time this weekend.
BC: OK, let's do it now. No time like the present.
CM: Yes Sir! Alrighty, let's start. I'm recording now. So, where'd
you grow up?
BC: I grew up very close to my mother...
CM: Well, that's where you grew out, yes
BC: Yes! Grew up in Birmingham Michigan. Gimme one second, will ya?
Hold on; be right back. (pause) Sorry about that - that's kinda like
the Nixon tapes, you'll have that little gap.
CM: ...18 second gap...
BC: ...Birmingham, Michigan, I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan -
that's two words, Royal Oak. Born in the William S. Beaumont Hospital
- the same hospital as Sam Raimi
BC: Yeah, scary, huh?
CM: Yeah - star-crossed at birth!
BC: Yeah. So I'm a Michigander - or a Michiganian
CM: Michimaniac, whatever
CM: ... and I understand you went to school in Michigan - college in
Michigan and so forth and so on
BC: What is your understanding?
CM: Uh, well, that you went to school for a while and then stopped
going to school.
BC: Which school?
CM: Uh, got that over here... just a second
BC: Test your expertise here
CM: I've got 75 interviews of you around here someplace...
BC: I went to Western Michigan for a whole six months and then I got
too damn antsy. 'Cause the previous summer I had worked as an
apprentice up in northern Michigan at a theater - professional theater
- it was like a summer-stock. All the TV actors who were on their way
out, basically, toured through there -- but to me they were big
Hollywood stars. So I had instant stars in my eyes and when I got to
college, it was back to theory; after I had worked 18 hour days,
setting up sets, doing errands, and doing assistant stage manager
work, and being a dresser - y'know it was a really eye-opening
experience, and I really loved it, and we got no pay for it.
CM: So they loved it too
BC: We volunteered, and I was one of the people accepted. It was
really a treat. I've run into several of these stars later, of course
-- ten years later -- and none of them had any recollection of the
incident, but to me it was a major event in my life, so that gave me
good perspective on the whole thing.
CM: I see, so that was sort of the spark that really propelled you
into what you do now.
BC: Well, yeah. I had done super-8 movies in high school with Sam
Raimi and a bunch of other guys, but that was my first real taste of
Hollywood, if you will, and shortly after dropping out of college -
was there the fall of '76 through January of '77 - I went to
work for a production company, doing commercials. I was a gopher for
them for a year, so I did a lot of that groundwork -- earn while you
learn sort of stuff. Literally sweeping out studios, and picking up
my employer when he was drunk, and that sort of stuff - all that
CM: Oh yeah, the underbelly of Hollywood.
BC: Yeah. But it gave me a chance to not only learn the city of
Detroit, but learn where equipment is -- where you pick it up, how a
lab functions, what sort of camera equipment you need to make a
movie. Because I would be sent to a camera place: "Here, pick up this
camera equipment," y'know, and it gave me a good chance to learn the
technical side of the business. Rather than just that artsy-fartsy
I'm not much of a method actor, as you've probably already
CM: Well, I haven't exactly determined what a method actor is.
BC: That's because I haven't either.
CM: "Well, what prepared you?" "It was a trip to the dentist."
"What?" So, can you identify anything In your upbringing that
prepared you - not necessarily in your experience, but in your
upbringing, that prepared you for your life as an actor?
BC: Yeah - my dad's dislike of his job. That's really the truth. My
dad wanted to be an artist - and his dad said "no". My grandfather
had worked for Alcoa Aluminum for years and years in Detroit. And so
my dad went to college, got out, got into advertising -- because there
are creative aspects of advertising. But he still found himself
unsatisfied, so he joined a community theater in the suburban Detroit
area. And as a kid, I used to watch him go do plays -- and he looked
really happy. He was: wearing ridiculous outfits, and makeup - it was
a side of my dad I had never seen before. And it also was a
revelation, because I knew if I had hat job, I could screw around
as an adult, too. Usually just kids are allowed to screw around.
I was into screwing around, so that's what I do twenty years later
- that's what I still do
CM: You're the envy of a generation, let me tell you.
BC: I guess. . . My dad really set the environment - when it came
time the first movie, he was the first investor.
BC: Because he didn't want me to be tormented like he was.
CM: He wanted you to be able to allow you to follow your dream,
BC: Yeah, and I very, very much appreciate that. Because its a hard
enough business as it is, but if your parents are tormenting you at
the same time... I know Sam Raimi's parents gave him a lot of grief.
CM: Oh really?
BC: Well, they're in retail. And it was like "who's going to take
over the family business?" But I think they're ok with it now.
CM: I hope so, 'cause he's pretty darn successful.
BC: Well, I think he makes more than both of them combined now. I
think they've worked it out; they're at peace with it.
CM: Describe your family, if you wish.
BC: I'm on a second marriage, I've got two kids by the first marriage:
a girl - 8 and a boy - 11. I'm remarried -- to a woman who used to be
a costume designer. Now she's going back to school to learn all that
fancy production/direction stuff. That's the short version.
CM: OK. One of the people on the net said to ask you about political
views you might have - and that I would be pleasantly surprised.
BC: I'm not registered with any one, but I tend to lean more
Democratic; I don't agree with either party 100 per cent.
CM: Do you have any favorite causes that you support?
BC: I guess I would probably be a fairly radical environmentalist.
Film sets are the worst offenders of all; I can't tell you how many
styrofoam cups are destroyed on a film set -- everyone's got to have
that cup of coffee. So I'm a big fan of wilderness perservation, I'm
a member of the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, and any other
societies I can find dealing with the great outdoors. 'Cause I
like to backpack.
CM: Yeah, I read that you were trying to get to Idaho next, I think it
BC: Yeah, wishful thinking.
CM: What's your favorite TV show and movie?
BC: My favorite movie is "Bridge on the River Kwai", because I felt
it's a real class act from the top down. Its well put together, great
spectacle - good acting
CM: Great story...
BC: William Holden is my favorite actor. I love the fact that there's
a climax with no music. It's just done by editing and story telling.
David Lean is one of my favorite directors.
CM: How about your favorite TV show?
BC: I'd have to say I was fairly run-of-the-mill. I watched "Lost in
Space", "Gilligan's Island"; "Time Tunnel" was a very cool one. But
they got cancelled.
CM: Yeah, well, everything does.
BC: I liked Irwin Allen TV shows - "Land of the Giants"...
CM: "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"...
BC: Oh, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" was one of the great
staples. If you look at it now, they're just rocking the set back and
forth with sparklers going off; and Kowalski died every other episode.
At the time, it was great! And, ironically, "The Wild Wild West."
CM: My parents wouldn't let me watch that - it was too violent.
BC: Oh really - good for them. They sound pretty progressive.
CM: Well, I wish they had.
BC: Well, you can watch 'em all you want, now.
CM: Yeah, and I do, believe me -- I have a complete collection.
BC: Well, good.
CM: How about a recent television show? Or a recent movie?
BC: Recent movie? "Tender Mercies". I'm a big Robert Duval fan.
He's my favorite living actor.
CM: I can't say I can disagree with you.
BC: Yeah. "Apollo 13", as far a a movie that didn't suck. That's how
I rate movies now - most of them suck, and when I find ones that are
good, they don't suck. I really enjoyed it. I felt it was a very --
it was an odd phenomenon: everyone knew how it was gonna end, but it
was still gripping. I just like well-made movies. It doesn't have to
be a thrill-a-minute.
I'm getting so sick -- let me tell you what I don't like. I'm
sick to my -- beyond my eyes -- of the
point-the-gun-sideways-and-empty-your-clip kind of movies. With the
grimace on their face. I just... What does that mean? What's the
CM: It, uh... good substitute for sex? I dunno.
BC: It's that nihlistic, jingoistic - I don't know, it's just
bullsh*t, if you'll pardon the expression. And I hope they don't make
Every movie like that I hope (it) bombs. It's just... "what story?
As long as we have good car chases and explosions." It's these big,
mean-spirited action movies that I really dislike. But I just took my
kids to see "James and the Giant Peach". I'll take a movie like that
any day -- any day over, you know, "Die Hard 3". Spare me.
'Cause I don't care -- here's my opinion: put a tax-attorney
alone in a building with terrorists. And then I'm scared.
BC: I'm not even joking - that's a premise for a comedy; yet I would
really like to see that movie! A guy who's never fired a gun in his
life -- stop with this ex-Navy Seal - oh, puh-lease! C'mon, do you
really... and I've broached that to a couple of well-respected
writers, and they look at me like I'm crazy. They say, "How would he
ever survive?" And you say "That's the point!"
CM: Yeah, there's the story
BC: Therein lies the challenge. I don't care if a Navy Seal defeats
these seventeen guys - I would expect that he would! If he doesn't
he's a loser. Or show me a movie where here's the following premise:
where what would really happen - happens.
BC: You're on a car-chase on the freeway. The good guy smashes into
the bad guy.
His car is gone! He's wrecked his radiator. He now has 30 seconds
to do something 'cause he's running out of radiator fluid. Then
(Another is) heroes that make horrible mistakes. Let me see that.
CM: Less of a cartoon, you mean.
BC: Yeah! I mean, as dumb as "Army of Darkness" was, I loved the fact
that Ash, the main guy, caused the death of probably 50 or 60 people
-- 'cause he was an idiot!
CM: Every time he turned around he made a mistake.
BC: Let's face it, if you put a construction worker in charge of an
army, they'd make huge mistakes. Yet when they succeed you go "well
CM: Yeah, There's a story; that's right.
BC: Yeah. But don't get me started.
CM: OK, I think I already did, but ok
BC: I know.
CM: What about your favorite reading material -- what do you like to
BC: Travel books
CM: Travel books?
BC: Yep -- fact-based... like I just read Dayton Duncan -- I'm a big
fan of (his). He wrote a book called "Out West". In the mid-80's, he
took his VW bus and he retraced the Lewis and Clark trip.
And it was funny to see the difference of our country then and now.
Some of their campsites were under a nuclear power plant. Another was
under 200 feet of water from a dam. And yet others were completely
untouched. A lot of the stuff was in Montana.
He's written several other books. He's got a new book now that I'm
trying to find where he travels all the rivers in America. And I like
"Blue Highways", for example. I'm just a real sucker for that
I'll give you an idea, here - I've got "The Kingdom and the
Country". It's "Wranglers, Sheperds, Miners, Bureaucrats, Squatters,
Gunfighters, Indians, and other inhabitants of the land that nobody
owns." It's all about the Bureau of Land Management; its all about
the public lands in America, where nobody lives. Dayton Duncan has
another book called "Miles from Nowhere": "Tales from America's
What it does is, he goes and looks at areas that still qualify:
"with fewer than two people per square mile" constitute the frontier -
the old frontier. There are still a number of areas that qualify for
that. And so he went and explored those areas. That's what I'm
"Cities of Gold": "Journey across the American Southwest in pursuit
of Coronado." (He's) the guy who retraced Coranados footsteps. I'll
give you one more and then I'll stop: Jerry Ellis - he's an explorer
-- he was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and then after they
got back he took off on his own. He went across Yellowstone, and all
"Bareback": "one man's journey along the pony express trail".
Guys who retrace stuff. I just get a big kick out of those. I
love stuff that's factual. Books like "Our Lord Isigoth from planet
mush-mush", I just can't relate. That's why I never connected to the
new Star Trek -- the old Star Trek I like because of the cameraderie
of the guys - it was character-driven.
CM: How about a favorite movie or television show you've been in?
BC: Probably Brisco -- favorite of anything, really.
CM: How long have you been an actor?
BC: Professionally, or what?
CM: Professionally or unprofessionally
BC: The first "Evil Dead" movie was '79
CM: Ok, and that was your first professional ...
BC: I guess if you want to be consistent, yeah
CM: Was "Going Back" made before or after "Evil Dead"?
BC: That ["Going Back"] was about '82. [My confusion is due to
filmographies dating both films as 1983. I just didn't think hard
enough about it. - CWM]
CM: What role or roles in your career up to Brisco - since this is
Brisco County driven - were most important to you, and then roles
BC: Up to Brisco?
CM: Up to Brisco, and then after.
BC: Well, "Army of Darkness" would be the most important -- the most
"studio film", big fat part; hard shoot; creatively satisfying.
CM: And how about after?
BC: After Brisco? Directing. I directed some "Hercules" episodes,
and also being in the show "Homicide". Because it was a chance to do
some different stuff. And then to actually get into different areas,
like TV movies, which I'd never done before -- and now I've done two
of them: "Love Bug"; the other one is...
CM: Sorry! [In my own defense, the two movies were both being heavily
promoted, and since one debuts on the small screen three days before the
other debuts on the large, mixing up the titles was an easy mistake.
"Tornado" was much the better movie, in my opinion, btw.]
BC: "Tornado" - coming out May 7, by the way - on Fox -- my old
CM: Is there any one person who influenced your acting style?
BC: Acting style? Gosh, acting style... No, 'cause I'm still
just trying to figure out what its all about. I mean there's a lot of
actors that I like, but I don't act like 'em.
CM: So you won't know 'til the end who was your biggest influence.
BC: Yeah. I leave that to the pundits.
CM: I count as one of those...
BC: Yeah, you're a pundit, or whatever. What does pundit mean? Is it
a derogatory term? [The Oxford Concise English dictionary defines
/pundit/ <<"pVndIt>> n.
1. /(also /pandit/)/ a Hindu learned in Sanskrit and in the philosophy,
religion, and jurisprudence of India.
2. often [used ironically] a learned expert or teacher.]
CM: I think it means somebody who's humorous with words?
BC: That's punster.
CM: Yeah. That's the best I could do. I don't have a dictionary
handy. Every time I've used it [the term], its a bad thing.
BC: Then don't take personally. How about 'geniuses'? "I'll let
the geniuses decide"
CM: OK, that's certainly likely to get you better press. How'd you
get the job for Brisco?
BC: I had to audition about six times. I had to keep climbing up that
food chain; the first time you audition, it's for the casting
director, and if they realize that you're not going to embarass them,
they take you to the producer. And then the producer -- then they
brought me back to work with me, to give me suggestions and stuff --
working on some scenes. That was the third time; then I went to
Warner Brothers, that was about the fourth time. Then I finally went
to Fox and I think I did something twice. And finally, I tap-danced
hard enough, I guess.
I think it was the "I won't stab you in the back if you give me the
part" sort of speech that put it over the edge. Most actors -- they
won't talk to the executives. I figured it was my right, since I had
come back there six times, to be able to give them a little speech at
the end. So I said, "Look, if you cast me in this part I'll ... you
won't regret it." And I don't think they did -- other than cancelling
CM: I think they regretted it afterwards [that is, cancelling it
prematurely]; I don't know that for sure.
BC: I just worked for them, so I guess it wasn't all bad.
CM: You've done movies and you've done television. Besides the time
differential -- that is to say in a TV series you get more time, just
because you're doing an episode every 10 days or so, and in a movie,
you do the movie and you're done, what are the difference from your
point of view?
BC: Well, TV is faster.
CM: Oh, really?
BC: Oh, my god, yeah -- to shoot. I did a small part in "Congo"; I'd
look at the call sheet of that day [the "call sheet" lays out the
planned shooting activity for the day: who is supposed to be where, at
what time, and what scene(s) will be attempted] -- the work load, and
it would be 7/8 (seven-eighths) of a page. And I knew it was time to
bring my James Michner novel.
But if it were a television show, that same call sheet would have
said "7 1/8 pages." So the workload is much more on television.
I actually had a gaffer, very pompously, turn to me and say "We can
do what they do in features, but features can't do what we do in TV"
-- because of how fast you go. We did a Brisco -- one time we had a
thirteen page day, and in any circles that's insanity.
CM: That's "you better not screw up"
BC: No, that's "Look out! 'cause you're gonna get run over."
"Caution, fast acting."
CM: What kind of scenes were you doing? A lot of interiors that day?
BC: We were all over that particular day. I'm sure there's a fight
scene in there too.
CM: How did you feel about -- as I'm sure you know, in Brisco, there
were in-jokes and homages to all kinds of things.
CM: Even things like the movie "Stagecoach", and "Rio Lobo", and
everything. Did you like that?
BC: Oh, sure. It gives a secondary level, and then we would come up
with some on the set occasionally. There was one that just made too
much sense: one character's name was Annie...[Episode: "Showdown"]
CM: "Annie, get your gun?"
BC: Yeah, it made sense -- the original line was "Annie, go home, I'll
call you", but she was going to show up later with a gun. So, we
thought, "Well, why not? 'Annie, get your gun.'"
CM: It fits perfectly... I would have thought that was a scripted
line, just because the way the rest of the show worked.
BC: Well, 77 per cent of them were. But there was the occasional one
that we just sort of came up with.
CM: All three characters - all three major characters: Bly, Brisco and
Bowler, were "B" names. Was there a reason for that?
CM: OK, how about the fact that Brisco County and Bruce Campbell have
the same initials?
BC: Same as Bill Church, Jr. from "Superman" -- I did some reccurring
[that is, a recurring character -- Bill Church, Jr.] on "Superman"
[that is, "Lois and Clark"]. No, no relation.
CM: No effect at all?
BC: Nope. That was the character's name long before I got to it.
CM: What was the weirdest shooting location you ever did for Brisco?
The one that struck you as "what am I doing here?"
BC: Well, we were shooting on a ranch while it was burning. We had
the fires of Southern California -- they were spreading all along this
area of Chatsworth. We had a scene where Bowler and I were riding
along and in the background it is just completely enveloped in smoke.
The horses were just -- they wanted to get the hell out of there.
And that's when I thought, "What are we doing here? The place is
burning and we're shooting!"
CM: Anything weirder still? Like in "Congo", or something like that?
BC: Oh, sure - Congo was much weirder, we were at the base of the
Aranol (sp?) volcano in Costa Rica, one of the most active volcanos in
the world. That thing erupted about five times a day. You could see
shock waves coming out of it, and boulders the size of Volkswagons
rolling down the side of it. That's where you realize -- they almost
evacuated us, the last time it blew up. But of course they didn't.
It's just absurd. You go, "whoa! That's not fake any more. We are
CM: "We are in an adventure movie."
BC: "It's a real belching volcanos, in the real boonies." And I
was joking with Frank Marshall; I said, "Frank, why don't you pick
something a little more out-of-the-way next time?"
He looked at me with a dead-straight expression on his face; he
goes "this is nothing." Because here's a guy who's produced all the
Speilburg movies. He goes, "Try and get snacks in the Sahara desert
-- there are no 7-11's in the Sahara desert." He's shot down in the
Andes, so he really wasn't kidding. It makes you realize, "holy cow!"
CM: They could just go anywhere...
CM: Back to Brisco -- did you have any input on the stories?
BC: I would get scripts as soon as I could get them, and I would give
them notes, but don't forget, I was just a hired actor. They didn't
have to listen to me.
CM: So you would pass back and say, "wouldn't it be neat if..."
BC: Oh yeah. I tried to be as constructive as possible, and they were
very generous. But let's face it -- there is a bit of a territorial
thing. I would get crabby if anyone told me how to be Brisco... and
I would get some of those notes. So we'd go back and forth.
I think it was all in -- we all had the same interests in mind --
to do the best show possible.
CM: Did you do most of your own stunts?
BC: I do as much as the insurance company will let me. They do
determine a limit. If you're going to risk shutting down the company,
they won't let you do it. Or they'll let you do it but you won't be
covered. And then that would just... it would be pretty much be an
ignorant thing to do.
CM: Yeah, because it would destroy whatever the project was.
BC: There was a scene where Brisco rode his horse through a plate
glass window. And I really wanted to do it! I thought, "Why not?"
And we finally went back and forth, and the wrangler was fine with it,
and the line producer finally called up [the insurance company], and
they said, "Well, we're not gonna cover him, if he's be fool enough to
do it." So I didn't do it.
But I did all the fight scenes, and about 90% of the riding.
CM: Did you enjoy that?
BC: Oh yeah! It just breaks up the day. It really does.
CM: I understand - that most of your time is spent standing in front
of a camera and saying the lines.
BC: Oh, yeah.
CM: ... and so it's neat, I guess, to be able to just ride!
BC: And, of course, if you do it all, it allows the director to film
it how they want it. They're not obligated to get back and do a wide
shot, because the people are doubled. [If a double is being used,
it's much safer to shoot from farther back, so the audience won't have
as much opportunity to notice the double. Using the actor for the
stunt means the director can place the camera as close as he/she
CM: Oh, I see, that's a good idea. Did you and Billy Drago get along
BC: Yah, 'cause he's ... usually the good guys are the ones who are
difficult, and the bad guys are usually the nice guys. [That is, the
actors playing good and bad guys.]
I'm serious -- I had heard that Vincent Price was just a great guy,
and he always played bad guys.
Billy's a very nice guy. He's actually very talented -- almost
shy. We got along fine. We laughed our heads off -- it was
ridiculous: "Give me the Orb" "No, you give me the Orb."
CM: "I got your orb, pal."
BC: "Yeah, here's your orb" "You killed my dad." "I don't care. You
ought to be [dead] too". Every time I saw him it was always fun,
because we'd always have pretty good conversations.
CM: Did he do his stunts too?
BC: We'd split it up - if he was being doubled, then usually my double
wouldn't go in. We'd split it up.
If it was over his shoulder -- if the camera was behind him,
looking at me, it would be me, and sometimes his double, if we really
had to wreck him up. And then the same way, if it was over my
shoulder looking at him, then -- you know. Both of us could last a
little longer that way.
CM: Was the teaming of Brisco and Bowler -- from the start? Was that
planned from the start -- 'cause it took 5 or 6 episodes...
BC: No, it wasn't - he was just a bounty hunter, and I think they
liked the chemistry. That's the beauty of TV -- if they like
something, they can change it.
So we became reluctant partners - and I thought that worked out
CM: Oh, yeah!
BC: Because we're totally apples and oranges. He's real feisty; I'm
the straight sort of guy. And it was good to have a partner,
'cause you've got to talk to somebody. If you stand around by
yourself... what are you gonna do -- talk to my horse - everyone'd
think I was nuts.
CM: Right, and then you have a history of the conversation for the
audience; they can appreciate the subtleties.
BC: Totally. And we have different approaches - he's more of a
hot-head, and that sort of stuff.
CM: How much of that repartee between you and he was scripted, and how
much did you guys make up on the set?
BC: Well, TV's gotta really crank, so you pretty much have to rely on
the script. But after a while the writers would hear how we would
talk. I mean, in the beginning I talked how Brisco was written. And
then near the end, they wrote how I talked.
Lines like "Very fancy." That was me. Just because I used to say
that all the time. You can see writers always taking notes out of the
corner of your eye. Which made it easy...
CM: Yeah, because then you can be more natural. It makes perfect
sense: the writers evolve toward you and you evolve toward the
CM: In the business, when you were making the show, and even after,
how did the people in the business - how did they see the show. Did
BC: I got a lot of milage out of that.
CM: Oh, did you?
BC: Yeah. I think it was pretty well respected. It was known as the
"good low-rated show." But I don't think they held anybody
responsible [for its cancellation]
That opened the entire TV door to me. I had never done any TV
CM: So they just thought the show was too cool for the audience?
BC: I don't know -- I don't know what they thought. But the industry
people liked it; because when I'd go on auditions or meet with
directors, they'd go "you know, that was a good show."
CM: How about with fans of the show - have you had any problems with,
well, crazed fans - besides myself, of course.
BC: No, there's only one guy - who was taking pictures of my house.
CM: Somebody was taking pictures of your house?!?
CM: Oh, man, jeez.
BC: I was renting at the time, so it wasn't even that good of a house.
I live in a gated community now [a "gated community" is one where the
entire community has its own security people, and the streets are not
classified as "public thoroughfares"; random people cannot simply
enter when they wish], so I don't have to worry about it. I have to
take just very basic precautions. Like you called up voice mail - I
just try not to give out my home number.
But what's weird is every so often I get a call at like 3 a.m.
"Hi, Bruce?" "Uh, hello" "I just wanted to say hi." And then [they]
hang up. That's a little disturbing.
BC: It's not even that I'm scared, it's more that you'd think they'd
look at their watch and check the time, instead of calling me at 3
One guy called from Australia. And you go, well, "OK, its
Australia, but you still could have checked to see that ...y'know,
we're on different sides of the earth."
So, I just have to do simple stuff like that. I try and route mail
to a post office box; I try and route calls. But, y'know, that's the
beauty of voice mail -- you can still stay in touch with people. With
the PO Box, I can still get their letters, and e-mail. I make no
secret of my email.
CM: I understand. It gives you a little breathing room.
BC: I've never played really weirdo characters -- hopefully I won't
hear that some guy is chainsawing his grandmother because of the "Evil
Dead" movies. But you never know.
I got a letter from a guy who sent me his high-shool graduation
tassle. Because he was gonna kill himself...
BC: But he saw the Brisco pilot and he decided not to. And that's
where you go, "holy shit" That's where you've really got to be
CM: There was a rumor that Sam Raimi didn't like Brisco.
BC: That's baloney. The thing I'd like to say is that 90% of what you
read on the Internet is an exaggeration. Seriously.
CM: I would say that you are underestimating it. [that is, that more
than 90% is wrong.]
BC: Yeah, I do a lot of damage control.
[tape change -- During the tape change, I say that my rig for
recording the interview is all bought piece by piece from Radio Shack,
and that whenever Tandy stock goes up, you can be sure it's because
I've made another trip to my local store and bought up everything in
BC: You and me both.
CM: Was there ever a soundtrack in the works for the show? I really
liked the music...
BC: Oh, I don't know. Not to my knowledge.
CM: I talked to TNT [about the sountrack], and they said, "huh?"
CM: You were pretty handy with a Colt -- the pistol. Lots of spins
and... you were really good with it.
BC: I [got] trained from a guy named Monty Laird, and another guy -
Arvo Ojala. He made my gunbelt. He did a custom-made, left-handed
gunbelt -- which I still have.
Arvo goes back to the 50's; trained a lot of guys. I didn't train
with Arvo, but he made some special stuff for me. Monty did the
actual training. He showed me the pass-off from hand to hand, and
flips, and cool ways to take it out; how to cock it as you brought it
up [from the holster].
That stuff is easy to learn, because in between shots, you get a
lot of time -- it's just stuff you do to pass the time.
CM: ... to make it real smooth...
BC: ... and the same with riding: I trained for about a month, with
this guy [named] Gordon Spencer, who is just terrific. I had ridden
in "Army of Darkness", but I didn't know what I was doing. This guy
retaught me -- the right way.
CM: Brisco never used a rifle -- at least I don't ever remember him
using a rifle. Was there a reason for that?
BC: Oh, I used it in, like, one episode. But I think a handgun is
cooler; more portable. Because riding and shooting a rifle -- that's
for squares. That's that Kevin Cosner stuff. That's stuff he did in
"Dances with Wolves". That was unbelievable.
CM: Well, yeah, and the rifle jammed while he was trying to do that
shot, too. [I saw this on one of those "behind the scenes" things.]
BC: Plus, he was bareback. Around buffalo. There's an insurance
company man's heart attack right there. Kevin Cosner, who's a huge
star, starring in and directing...
CM: If he's gone, the movie's gone.
BC: Oh, totally.
CM: Did you have a favorite and least-favorite episode of Brisco?
BC: I have several favorites. One is "A.K.A. Kansas".
CM: That was on today, as a matter of fact.
BC: Was it? No kidding. I like the repartee [of that episode], where
we got to play somebody else. Where I played this guy "Roscoe
Meriweather" -- I don't know if I was playing him in that [episode];
in that one I was playing "Kansas"...
CM: "Kansas Wiley Stafford"
BC: ... I got to do Roscoe Meriweather a couple of times. And I like
the episode "Riverboat" -- the gambling episode.
CM: The "Maverick" one, right.
BC: I like a lot of the ones Carlton Cuse wrote, because I think he's
a good writer.
Some stinkers? I don't know... I could think about it, but there
were some I was just disappointed in, because they didn't go for it,
or that we had a cheeseball set. I kept trying to get out of anything
shot in that cave. Because to me it was just an awful, awful set.
But if you build it, that means you've got to use it. [That is,
production budgets are limited, so if you build a "cave set" for an
episode, if you ever need another "cave set", or something like a
"cave set", you'll use the original cave set - even if its cheesey -
so you'll have that much more money for other things.]
So every time the bad guys were in a cave, it was always that
stinkin' cave. It was too small; made out of styrofoam... but what
can you do? They've got a budget too. And when you're low rated, you
can't argue. If we had good numbers [ratings numbers], we could stamp
our feet and go, "hey, guys, c'mon; get rid of this piece of junk."
CM: I've been told that there were three different "Comets" -- is that
BC: There were five.
One for dialog. It was a very quiet horse, and I would do easy
riding with it, and it would sit there -- called "Copper". I called
him "Ledbelly", because he was an old, quiet horse.
Then there was the actual horse -- the real, "trick" horse, that
would do the "Mr. Ed" stuff: the nudges, and the counting with his
paws. That was "Strip". He had the official colorings -- all the
other horses were colored to match him, with makeup.
There was a rearing horse - which was "Ace". Ace was just ... you
would just rear on "Ace".
CM: A specially balanced horse?
BC: Yes. It had a cue - he was cued to rearing. [The horse's
trainer, off camera, could give the horse a signal and it would rear
on that command.]
Then we had the stunt-guy's horse - which was a horse called "Boss"
-- which was just like a Porsche. that sucker could really go. I
rode him a couple of times.
Then he had another one called "Bucks", I think. You always had a
backup. Depending on which if they were using "Boss" for some other
shot. [Since filming might include more than one filming unit,
multiple horses provide maximum flexibility. For instance, Bruce's
stunt-guy might be shot by one film crew doing a stunt, while another
crew filmed Bruce with another horse for some close-ups, which could
all be edited together later. The amount of pre-planning that goes
into shooting a show is amazing. But the more pre-planning one does,
the more efficiently (and cheaply) you can use one's film crews,
actors, extras, and other elements, like horses, steam locomotives,
and town sets.]
But there were a lot of horses, because they [all] had specialized
CM: Do you know what happened to any of them?
BC: I rode "Copper" about a month ago. They're stabled up; they're
doing fine. They work in other shows -- they're actors, y'know.
They've gotta work.
CM: "Bye Bly", the last "Orb" episode, didn't fall at the end of
the series, but in the middle. Was there a reason Boam/Cuse didn't
spin the "Orb" plot out any further?
BC: "Bye Bly" just fell into the order that way because we felt it was
necessary to wrap that Orb stuff up - no special secret there.
CM: 27 episodes seems an odd number. Was there some sort of funny
negotiations with Fox over how many episodes to do?
BC: As far as 27 episodes go, it's not quite that - we shot 26
episodes (a full season) plus a 2 hr pilot - that may have resulted in
CM: Here's a philosophical question about Brisco. What do you think
happened to the character Brisco?
BC: He's probably working in San Francisco as a lawyer, as a lawyer;
as a very successful lawyer.
CM: You don't think that would be too tame for Brisco?
BC: Well, but here's the deal: you've got to start somewhere if you're
going to do a TV movie. It's "Brisco Rides Again", where someone
comes into his office a la "Maltese Falcon"...
CM: Oh, I like that.
BC: ... and hes got to go get Bowler up in his winery, and he's got to
blow the dust of his guns again. So...
CM: I love it. I can see it.
BC: If they [TNT] make regular TV movies anyway, why not make one that
already has a base?
CM: ... that has a history; that you don't have to introduce the
characters, and get everybody up to speed - you can just go.
CM: Are you still friends with most of the people in the show?
BC: Yeah, I've become pretty good buds with Jeff Phillips, who played
"Whip Morgan", I talk to Gary Hudson occasionally, I talk to Julius
[Carrey] every so often, Kelly Rutherford, I became pretty friendly
I wouldn't say that there were any of them that we didn't get
along. You know what it is? A lot of it is that trench warfare -
that you're really tight with them. After it's done, you kind of go,
"ah, well. OK"; and then you just sort of dissipate. It's strange.
But I go bike riding with them, we'll have lunch, and hang out, and
stuff. [The intensity of the experience of making the show makes you
friends, but without that focus to the friendship, it isn't quite the
CM: Why do you think Brisco was cancelled?
BC: It's only a theory, and its probably wrong, but its the ironic
thing that It could probably only have been developed on Fox - because
of their approach [that is, Fox's risk-taking strategy of going
outside the current mainstream for show themes for its Friday night
But It probably never belonged on Fox. It should have been
created by Fox, and then sold to CBS.
CM: Yeah; I'm always reminded of Brisco when I watch "Due South".
Always in the back of my head is, "This is just like Brisco."
CM: So yeah, I can see your point.
BC: It wasn't from lack of trying. The marketing people at Fox... I
can't sit back and lament the fact that Fox didn't promote it. That's
not true. I hope nobody ever accuses them of doggin' it. They really
put it out. They had trailers in theaters!
CM: Oh, yeah! That was why it surprised me that they canceled it
after one season. Because it really looked like they had put a lot of
... what's the word?
BC: Well, "dough"?
CM: Well, dough, of course, but ... "prestige". "We're Fox, and we're
showing you that we do good television."
CM: ... and so they had invested that into Brisco.
BC: Yeah, but again, beyond that I don't waste a minute of sleep
trying to explain it. 'cause we busted our butts. [That is, he and
the rest of the Brisco people worked as hard and as creatively as they
could. That's all an artist can do. The value of a creative work
is judged by others, and more often than not misjudged by others.
Remember the original "Star Trek"? Canceled by NBC, when it turned
out that it was immensely popular with precisely the audience they
were hoping to reach?]
CM: You have a development deal with Disney?
BC: Yeah, we're about to sign it. I can't officially tout it, but
we're closing in on it. It will be to develop a new television show.
It's a very nebulous thing - it may take a year and a half. but we've
got to sit down... it's a matter of me telling them who I think I am,
and them telling me who they perceive they think that I am; that sort
CM: ... and then trying to merge the two.
BC: Yes, and then hire a writer that I like - that they will
accept. And visa versa.
CM: I seem to remember that there was a development deal with NBC.
They just decided to back off?
BC: I was there with them for a year and a half, and developed three
scripts -- all one hour. They didn't green-light any of them, for
whatever reason. ["Development deals" are a 'seeding' technique
networks use to get shows on the air. They pay some money to get show
ideas solidified into "pilot scripts". Some pilot scripts (a
fraction) result in "pilot episodes" - one-shot shows, to see if a
series based on the pilot is workable, and good. The pilot episode is
then shown around the network, and to test audiences and "focus
groups". Some pilots (a fraction) make it onto the air, where we
get to see 'em. Some aired pilots (a fraction) result in a TV
But I would have been happy to do every single one, for different
CM: There was a rumored "Pirate" series from Sam Raimi...
CM: Whatever happened to that?
BC: It's still in the rumor phase. I know that they want to do it,
but I couldn't commit to it, because of my NBC deal. So it's remained
in developmancy. That's all I can say. I don't know what their plans
are. I don't want to give any false...
CM: I understand. Have you been contacted at all about [playing] "the
gunfighter" for Steven King's "Dark Tower" series? I have no idea
what the "Dark Tower" series is. [This, along with several other
questions here, came from from folks out on the Internet.]
CM: Do you enjoy directing more than you enjoy acting?
BC: Definately as much.
CM: As much?
BC: Oh, yeah, definately.
CM: I imagine it's two different sides of the same mirror.
BC: Totally. It's really cool.
I had just come from "Brisco" when I did the first "Hercules". I'd
only been cancelled about six months, and I knew what that actor
[Kevin Sorbo] was going through. A single male lead, action-oriented
show, period... [that is, set in a non-current historical period - for
"Hercules", the time of Greek myth.] It was all the same: Kevin and I
are the same age -- it made it great. I went golfing with him; I
said, "OK, you're probably a little tired, a little pissed off. What
do you like, what do you not like? Let's figure out what you want to
do. Let's really do it." And he was great. I think that helped; I
let him know I was absolutely on his side, and I absolutely knew what
he was going through.
I would have liked it if a director had done that to me. "Let's go
through the script; what do you not like?"
CM: "How do you want this to look?"
BC: "Here's what I'm thinking of doing. What do you think?"
CM: That sort of sounds like an actor's dream...
BC: I came to work. I did shot-lists; I was fully prepped for that
entire episode. Wen I set foot on that set, I didn't want him looking
at me, going "what do you mean, you don't know?" [For those unfamiliar
with how TV and movies work, the director is the boss. The director
is generally the final authority on what should be done, how, and
when. Though he often relies on others to help with planning and
execution, the director is the final arbitrator of what goes on. Some
directors plan meticulously what to do, others prefer a more
'intuitive' approach - although this is mostly confined to movies --
TV's time pressures pretty much require things to happen as quickly as
possible. Directing is a titanic amount of work; successful directors
are artists and managers; meticulous planners who hope the
unexpected happens (if it helps the show :-); someone who must know
all the skills to make a photoplay, so he/she can get the best of
everyone involved in the project. This wasn't always the case -- time
was when the producer was the boss. But back well before WWII, the
directors seized artistic control, and never gave it back. A
director, it turns out, can act as his own producer, but it's not so
easy for a producer to act as his own director. For TV shows, the
executive producer gets a final say on what gets on air, but a
director gets final say on what gets shot, and how.]
I wanted [to have] all the answers. If somebody had a better idea,
that was great, but I wanted at least to have an approach. [To have a
way to get everything that needs to be done done, so it is guaranteed
to be done.]
CM: ... and you are kind of the final-say guy.
CM: Any special plans for your birthday this year?
BC: Generally, to be honest with you birthdays come and go around
here. They're almost ignored. That's not even because of, you know,
my age, or anything; its always been that way. It's just not a big
deal. With my kids -- if they want to make a big deal out of it, they
can. If they don't, it doesn't really matter. I don't really play
that 'age' thing. Because unfortunately, I think it defines you.
CM: It certainly shuts off parts of you if you start 'playing your
CM: What role, or roles would be your 'dream role'?
BC: To be honest, I never sit around and think that. I judge a script
based on whether I get nervous or not. If I read it and I get
butterflies in my stomach, that's how I know.
CM: Is that, if you get butterflies like "this might be too much for
me" -- then that's good?
BC: Yeah, exactly. Where you go, "whoa, I better have it together
Actually, the only times that's happened in recent years has been
"Brisco" and "Hudsucker Proxy". "Hudsucker" wasn't from reading it,
"Hudsucker" was from showing up on the set, and seeing that these guys
were not kidding around. That Jennifer Jason Leigh -- who is an
acting machine -- she wasn't about to blow a line. She never blew
a line! She never blew a take the entire time that I saw her work,
or shoot, or anything. And I started to go, "Oh boy. OK, let's keep
it together here." I knew I would be buried if I didn't...
CM: But that challenge to you is what you look for.
BC: Absolutely. When I worked on that movie, I felt like I had never
worked on a movie in my life. It was just creative -- money was not
an issue. Time was not an issue. The Coen brothers would just clear
the set: it would just be the actors, and the cameraman, and you would
just sort of... work it. They were one of the few guys who you'd do a
take [for], and they'd go "anything else you'd like to do?" [That is,
they're asking if the actor is happy with the way the shot went; if
the actor would like to try a different pacing to the scene, or even a
different bit of dialog.]
Most directors are looking at their watch, going, "uh, that was
good. That was good."
CM: "...next set-up" [a "set-up" is slang for the totality of shooting
a scene, or portion of a scene -- setting up the camera, the lights,
etc. -- preparing to shoot.]
CM: But you've never wanted to do Hamlet, or...
CM: None of that...
BC: Nope, I'm not a Shakespearian guy. I would rather do
something where it's a life-and-death struggle of a beer salesman, or
a garage mechanic. I'd love to do a story of a heroic act that nobody
sees. A guy in the middle of Bootlick, Wyoming -- two guys on a
ranch; one guy falls down a well: you spend all night long trying to
get that person out, and not a single person witnesses it. The next
day they go about their business, and the guy makes eggs in the
morning. That type of thing. [At the time, and later, the movie
that came to mind when he described that was Sam Peckinpah's excellent
"The Ballad of Cable Hogue" -- a quiet, character-driven western
CM: That would be interesting.
BC: I'm not interested in that spectacle, that... I want the audience
to be able to directly relate to it.
CM: Is that the kind of role you think you're best suited for?
BC: Yeah. I believe I am 'OK' at portraying a regular guy.
CM: Well, you were "The King of Thieves" [in episodes of "Hercules"
and "Xena"], wasn't it?
BC: Yeah. But see, in that I was just parodied me.
CM: The character was a larger than life charletan, basically.
BC: Right. Where you make fun of the fact that you have a jaw-line,
and things like that.. You become the buffoon; I shouldn't say any
one thing, but I like that pendulum. I'm either swinging one way or
CM: Do you look forward to another "Evil Dead"/"Army of Darkness"
BC: If all the same people are involved, and we have enough money to
do it right -- fine. And [if] all of our schedules work out, that's
great, because I do enjoy working with Sam. But I wouldn't want to do
some cheezeball knock-off, where they say, "you've got 19 days [to
shoot], and $7 million." [These days, that's 'way too short a schedule
and too little money for a "Hollywood feature." It can be done that
quickly, and for that amount of money, but it tends to look it.]
CM: Is Sam Raimi trying to kill you?
CM: ... quietly and slowly, movie by movie, he's trying to...
BC: (laughs) It must be because I poked him in the eye with a pencil
in high-school. I really think that's it.
CM: He's just really slow about getting his revenge.
BC: No, he's methodical.
He'll probably make another one. I don't know. That is the single
most asked question.
CM: I believe it.
BC: 'When will it be made', 'why haven't you made it', and 'when will
you make it?'
CM: It's kind of silly to expect you to always want to make sequels to
your past life. That's not something I would...
BC: To me, its not an issue of sequels, it's about working with Sam.
I don't really care what roman numeral they put on it; to me, its a
whole different experience. Every one of those movies has been a
completely different experience. Even though you're playing the same
character, to me it was...
CM: Well, they all had a different 'look and feel', each one...
BC: Oh, absolutely. The first one was a melodrama, where some lines
were so hokey that people laughed, and I believe it was
misinterpreted. Some people say, "Oh, what a clever parody". I hate
to beg to differ, but I'll be the first to admit that there are a
number of scenes in that movie that fail -- miserably. And as a
result, people think its funny.
We never said, "Oh, lets do this really hokey scene, so we'll
parody horror movies." It wasn't until, really, "Evil Dead 2" that we
started getting into a dark humor. The first one is a melodrama --
poorly acted, poorly delivered, bad lines. There's no mystery there,
its just that Sam Raimi did a really good job. And we all worked
really hard on it. So...
CM: I think [its that] people think its funny because they're pulling
for you [guys]... They know a little bit about you guys, and they
really want you to succeed, and so they make this allowance of, "well,
that must be a parody." [I call this the "El Mariachi Factor".]
BC: Yeah, I guess. I dunno.
CM: Where would you like your career to go from here? Is it "more of
the same", or do you have some kind of... far off in the distance, do
you see yourself as the director of feature films, for instance?
BC: Oh, I'd love to.
Everything is a stepping stone. Low-budget features -- [they] get
you started. TV gets you more into the 'bigger world', because more
people watch it. Which allows you to then get small parts in big
movies. Which is what I've been doing.
And then directing -- I was allowed to get directing, because I had
a lot of experience in television, or at least some experience.
Eventually it would be nice to get big parts in big movies, and
direct small movies... y'know, work your way up. I don't have a plan
drawn up that I did in high school. A schematic of where... you know.
I really kind of just follow it as it goes.
CM: What would you like to be doing in 5 years?
BC: Being able to have more choices.
CM: Do you think that'll be true? That's what you'd like, what do
BC: I don't like to put time on it. Then you start playing that game
of "Oh, I'm this age -- I should be doing this, or this, or this."
There will always be somebody more successful than you. I can't
really... I don't know; I don't really think like that.
CM: I guess these other two questions: "same thing, 10 and 20 years
from now" are pretty useless...
BC: Eventually I'd like to be able to pick and choose -- I'd like to
be able to make decisions based solely on creativity: "The Butterfly
Factor." I'd like to just make decisions based on that. Not based on
"Well, I should do this TV movie because a lot of people will see it."
Based instead on "Because it's great."
CM: Just to be able to create, as opposed to
BC: Yeah, and still be fiscally responsible. I don't feel like
flushing anybody's money down the rathole. If I direct a film, I want
it to make money. But I want it to make money under the right
CM: Let's look at your career up to this point. What TV or movie
roles that you've done so far would you like to be remembered for?
BC: Brisco's fine. I have no problem with that.
CM: Which role do you think you will be remembered for?
BC: Somewhere between that and the "Evil Dead" movies.
CM: Is that good enough?
BC: No. I'd like to be a guy like Harrison Ford -- I would say he's
my role model of a modern-day actor. I feel he's the smartest actor
working. His movies are as good a blend of commerce and art as I've
found. Even his big Hollywood movies are not stupid.
The "Patriot Games" [movies] - they're not stupid movies. There is
a level of reality; there's a level of intelligence going there, that
I've got to assume he's got something to do with. "The Fugitive"
could have been a really stupid movie, but he gave it enough substance
with his unfailing kind of seriousness, and earnestness. He's like
the most ernest actor. He's a guy who could have gotten stuck... do
you even remember that he was in "Star Wars" now?
CM: Uh, well, I do. But it's like he's a different guy. Yeah,
BC: ... that's the amazing thing. I don't think people even refer to
him as "Indiana Jones" any more.
CM: Yeah, you're probably right. When they think of him, they think
of "Patriot Games."
BC: Or, "He's that huge movie guy."
CM: ... they think of "Patriot Games" and "The Fugitive".
CM: They don't think of "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones".
BC: Even Mel Gibson is starting to get out of that. I look at a guy
like that, and I go, "Yeah, that'd be cool." "Yeah, he's done his 1,
2, and 3 of the same movie, but then he's gone on and done 1, 2, and 3
of a completely different movie series." So I'd rather be
remembered for a half-a-dozen 1,2, and 3 - type things. My goal is
ultimately is to be perceived not a cowboy actor, not a horror actor,
not a comedy actor -- just an actor. That's all.
But you'd be surprised at how elusive that can be.
CM: Really? You think that Hollywood just tries to pigeonhole you?
BC: Oh, of course! Anything else takes quite a bit of thought. I
can't tell you how many selective demo reels [A "demo reel" is a short
piece of film, or video, that shows the actor doing things. It is
sometimes also known as an "audition tape", which is perhaps a bit
more descriptive a term] I've put together...
I've just had a meeting with a director about a film, and he goes,
"you know, you've got this great edge, and stuff, but I've never seen
you be a nice guy." And I go, "Oooo-kaay." So I put a reel together
from every scene in Brisco where I give little Billy his medicine,
give the girl her doll back, tell the prairie woman to keep at it --
you know? It's where you go, "Oh, my god..."
You're constantly tap-dancing. That's what you want to tell this
guy: "Well, if you write a 'nice' part, I'll play the 'nice guy'."
CM: yeah, that's kind of odd, really.
BC: It's baffling... but it's true!
CM: You'd think that Hollywood, the land of actors....
BC: Let me tell you - here's what it boils down to. When you walk in
that room, they want you to be that person. When Robin Williams
walked in to audition for "Mork and Mindy", and started doing his
'thing', with the funny voices, they went "He's the guy." [Actually,
this audition would have been for the alien walk-on for an episode of
"Happy Days". "Mork and Mindy" was actually a 'spinoff' from "Happy
Days", as any trivia-obsessed TV junky like myself would tell you.]
They didn't know what they wanted; I'll guarentee you that right
now. They had an idea -- they wanted a zany guy. And when he walked
in, they went, "Yeah, I want that zany guy." You have to be the
person they're looking for. They can't imagine you with blond hair,
or with a bald wig, or with a big mustache. You just have to be
CM: They don't want you to become the person...
CM: They want you to be the person. Bleah!
BC: So I think I was enough like Brisco; they said, "All right, give
it to that guy."
CM: If you had your career -- to date -- to do over again, would you
change anything about it?
BC: No. Because I don't deny ever doing anything. I really don't
understand these actors who refuse to mention things that they were
Like we gave an actress her first part in the film back in '83
["Going Back"?], and she's since went on to do a big, sucessful
television show. And you never hear about this movie. She never did
And that bugs me. Because everybody starts somewhere. And I like
the fact that I basically went around the system.
CM: You paid your dues.
BC: Yeah. I have no problem with that. I actually think that will be
a benefit further on down the line -- so you don't go insane when
things ever start to really heat up. 'Cause you will have been
through it. I know the basic steps involved now, if I ever wind up
in some big phony studio; which, to be honest with you, is not my
ultimate goal. It doesn't mean...
A movie like "Congo" - it was a $60 million movie -- but it was one
of the least creative experiences I've ever had.
CM: Well, I mean you got "killed" almost immediately.
BC: But it doesn't matter. I was not allowed to change a word, a
letter, a phrase, of dialog. Not a word! So how excited can I get
about that? I was trying to change something just to make it easier
of a transition for me. Literally, I added a "hum", and a "well", and
a "uh", after a take -- just to blend some clunky sentences
together... I'm not saying the guy was a bad writer.
But the script supervisor came up and said, "Hey, you put in a
'um', and a 'well', and a 'huh'."
I looked at her, and I almost said, "Are you joking?" She said,
"Well, we really need to stick to the script." And that's because the
writer - John Patrick Shanley - had won an Academy Award. But let's
face it: he was adapting a book. [Michael Crichton's. Have you
noticed that Hollywood tends to put great faith (and bet big wads of
cash) on some of the strangest things? That's why we have a seemingly
endless stream of bad adaptations of Steven King novels, I suspect.
Don't get me wrong - Mr. King is a wonderful writer. But for some
reason his stories haven't been translated well to the screen - big or
Its not his original stuff anyway. But yet it's the "playwrite
CM: "These are my words". [That is, there's a syndrome that implies
that the written word on the page is somehow pure -- that the actor is
a vehicle for words, not an interpreter of them. Changing the words
is apparently "bad medicine" if the writer has sufficent juju - like
an Oscar on his desk.]
BC: The big studio movies, to be honest with you, are not ... that was
a very good experience for me, because I realized they [the big
studios] are not a Mecca. They are not the answer to it all, whereas
I can work in something that has half the budget, with something like
"Hudsucker [Proxy]", and be completely blown away by the
professionalism, the creativity; the fact that everyone loves what
they're doing. That's what I'm interested in. It's not the size of
the role -- I know it's cliche, but it's the quality of it.
I've turned down several projects in the last six months, where
they said, "Do you want to play this 'good guy'?" And you read it
[the script], and you go, "wow, he has every lame line! And I've
heard them all eight times before." Yet the bad guy has great lines.
So I've played bad guys instead. I said, "I'll do it if you let me
play the bad guy." 'Cause it's all about the role.
CM: Yeah, it's interesting: that in a lot of movies, people remember
the bad guy.
BC: Of course! They have all the good lines. That's why Autolycus is
fun in the episode I did with Hercules. I had tons of [good] lines
and Hercules didn't have any. His lines are, "wait here, Autolycus."
Meanwhile, I'm just spewing off at the mouth. How can you not like
that? And plus, you don't have to play that "likeability game."
CM: You don't have to be 'the hero', you're actually a sort of
BC: If you're bored in a scene, you can actually show them [the
audience] that you're bored. You can suppress a yawn and the director
won't yell at you. You know what I mean? If your character doesn't
care what's going on, you can show it. The hero has to bite his
tongue, and go, "Yes, ma'am, I understand, I'll get right on it."
CM: If anybody who's reading this has a desire to become an actor,
what would you suggest they do to start?
BC: Become a producer. I'm dead serious. First "Evil Dead" movie I
was one of the executive producers. I helped raise the money. That
made all the difference, because I could cast myself in the role,
and cut to the chase.
CM: Take control of your own destiny.
BC: Absolutely. Write your own script. Buy the option of a book.
Then you can call the shots. Absolutely -- become a producer.
CM: Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans of Brisco, or of
yourself, in general, who will be reading this?
BC: Yeah, thanks for being very loyal. There's only about six of 'em
out there, but they're very well-informed and they're very loyal.
Tell 'em I'll need them on that opening weekend.
CM: I want to thank you very much for your time. You've certainly
answered every question; it's just amazing. I wish you good luck on
the movie ["McHale's Navy", shooting in Mexico this summer] and thank
you very, very much for your time.
BC: See you later. Bye!
Special thanks to:
email@example.com (Dan Papale )
"(Scott Mikkelsen)" < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Brian Woods < email@example.com>
Brian White < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nick Preston < email@example.com>
... for adding questions and comments that helped me to formulate
the questions I asked.
and special thanks to:
PARKER BARBARA L < firstname.lastname@example.org>
... for making it all possible.
But the largest thanks, of course, go to Mr. Bruce Campbell, who took
lots of time out of his life to give me the time to ask all these
questions so that you folks would be able to read this. I suspect he
gets interview requests a lot, but certainly this one must have been
among the oddest. I hope you all enjoyed it.
Keep watching the screens - The Bruce is out there!
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