Bruce Campbell is one of, if not the, coolest guys on the planet. He may be one of the coolest guys to have ever existed. He’s as sharp as a tack and smooth as a marble, and fortunately for his biggest fans and the world of cinema, he has rolled with the punches. Bruce is a man who didn’t quit pursuing what he loved when so many others would have. As he pushes into his golden years, it seems more golden opportunities have been laid before him.
In celebration of the iconic actor’s 61st birthday, here are 10 lesser known facts about the life of Bruce Campbell. Enjoy!
10. He Went to High School With Sam Raimi
Most Bruce Campbell fans are well aware that he and Sam Raimi have had a longstanding relationship, but not everyone realizes the two friends and frequent collaborators went to high school together in Michigan, where they began to share their dreams of creating stories, playing make-believe and making movies. As lore would suggest, Sam has had a knack for torturing Bruce for decades. This isn’t something that began when the two began making movies together.
While in class together, Sam would sit behind Bruce, and poke him with pencils while Bruce was addressing teachers, or asked by a teacher to provide an answer. We can also imagine some of the one-liners bouncing back and forth between the two when they were supposed to be working, or taking a test. Upon their grand success, their teachers must have felt like one of the most accomplished high school instructors ever.
9. He Never Tells Sam “No”
Everyone has a friend to whom they never refuse. If they ask you to help them move at 5:00 AM, you’re there with coffee. If they ask to borrow one of your most prized possessions, you offer, even reluctantly, and pray that it returns to your possession with minimal damage. These people are chosen family, and that’s who Sam Raimi is to Bruce Campbell, and vice-versa.
It just seems that Sam scores a little more of the lucrative deal, and Bruce gets the leftovers, even when it comes to delivering performances. As mentioned, Sam has a knack for torturing Bruce, and Bruce never — or rarely — says no when he’s pitched something, even if absurd. From being drowned in a pool of blood to warring with the Evil Dead to randomly being thrust into The Quick and The Dead only to be beaten in a brawl, Bruce will do anything for Sam.
8. Mysterious Roller Coaster of Success
Huge fans of Bruce don’t understand how this guy isn’t one of the biggest names in the history of the movie business. The fact that the guy refers to himself as a B-Actor hurts the heart and soul. Bruce has endured a crazy, career roller coaster ride, including his portrayal of one of the most iconic horror film characters of all-time.
Then there were his roles showing up in bit parts in Sam Raimi’s big budget productions. And then, of course, some career droughts that forced Bruce to take jobs as a working stiff, once serving as night security at the Anheuser-Busch distribution plant in Los Angeles. Considering Bruce’s talent, and the fact that he can steal a scene without saying a word, it’s mind-boggling to think he never became one of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men. Then again, he’s only 58. There’s still time!
7. Montgomery Ward Pants Were His High School Flavor
Bruce laments his high school dating experience because there really never was one. He went out with girls a few times but considering his style, or lack thereof, in 1970s high school, it’s surprising he ever scored a date. When everyone else was wearing denim jeans, and rockin’ the look of Dazed and Confused (Bruce would have graduated around the same year as Richard Linklater’s film takes place), Bruce opted for Montgomery Ward, mail-order work pants, and a blazer that belonged to his father.
This became his uniform of sorts. As imagined, this wasn’t a sweet molasses flypaper luring the ladies. It was more like a girl repellent. This really comes of no surprise when it’s obvious that everything Bruce does is outside the box; however, his reasoning was peculiar. Bruce didn’t like jeans because they wore out too fast in the knees and seat.
6. Special Skills Scored Brisco County, Jr.
Bruce Campbell scored one of his first big, mainstream, leading man roles with the advent of the TV action-comedy The Adventures of Brisco Country, Jr. Campbell played the titular character and secured the role by possessing a unique set of physical skills. No, this isn’t a skill set provided by the storyline and some slick editing, as enjoyed by Liam Neeson in the Taken series, rather the ability to offer physical comedy to an oddball, sci-fi comedy to took place in the late 1800s.
Bruce Campbell had developed a trick of throwing himself into a flip while hanging out with his Super-8 filmmaking buddies in high school, including Sam Raimi. During the audition, Bruce busted out the flip time and time again, and every time the director asked to see it. Talk about a guy who was willing to suffer for his art!
5. His Talent Really IS Underrated
We won’t be so bold as to predict that Bruce Campbell will win an Oscar before it’s all said, and done, but would we be surprised if he did? Absolutely not. When it comes to range, there is nothing Bruce cannot do. He does comedy so well, and so subtly, it seems effortless. As any actor will tell you, there is nothing harder than scoring laughs with no effort.
Many try too hard, and many rely on shtick, whereas Bruce brings it with a unique delivery, that is often dripping with sincerity. This is a suggestion that Bruce could do a hard-hitting drama if he chose to do so, or one of those award-winning type roles that is born in the realm of independent film and finds its way to mainstream success.
4. He Cleared $17.12 an Hour on Army of Darkness
When signing on to do Army of Darkness, Bruce accepted a $500,000 salary. But considering the film cost two years of his time for completion, his earning power really began to drop. Also getting a cut of that salary were the state and federal governments, an ex-wife, his agent, and manager. Breaking it down: 500k – 100k: 10 percent/10 percent Agent/Manager = 400k – 100k for taxes = 300k/2 for ex-wife = 150k/730 days of total time (no, he didn’t work everyday, but it kept him from the hard pursuit of other work) spent on the film = $205 per day/12 hour days = $17.12 per hour. While this breakdown borders on absurd, Bruce has been on record to state that he enjoyed less than $100,000 for his work on the film after everyone got their cut. In fact, he probably cleared less on certain days than some of the SAG extras working overtime.
3. He Erected a Movie Set on His Farm
Unlike many actors who call Los Angeles or New York City home, Bruce Campbell wanted to get back to nature after he enjoyed a certain amount of success. Growing up in suburban Michigan in a home surrounded by trees and wooded areas, Bruce settled on the west coast but opted for a lavender farm in Oregon over the desert setting of Southern California.
In 2007, for the production of My Name Is Bruce, he opted to use his own property to erect sets for the film. According to Bruce, they were too big to take down, so his farm looks like the small, country town that was used in the film. Bruce has commented that he and his wife really enjoy the additions to their homestead, but it can be pretty confusing for new delivery drivers when they’re supposed to make a drop at the actual house.
2. He Specializes in Reverse Acting
More stories stemming from the legend that is Bruce Campbell, the cult icon is known for being a master of his physical instrument. In other words, he’s an incredibly physical actor. When certain effects weren’t available back in the 1980s — and Sam Raimi being into the art of illusion as much as he is film — the duo would perform certain sequences in reverse in order to complete a series of practical effects that would have had to rely on VFX otherwise.
There is a story of the two working another reverse sequence in Army of Darkness, and making it one of the most complex they’d ever attempted. It was such a challenge, Bruce found that he was leaving out things from time to time, causing his longtime friend and director, Raimi, to exclaim, “That is some of the worst reverse actings I have ever seen.”
1. Possibly One of The Most Talented Actors In The World
Bruce Campbell isn’t merely admired by his fans, he is beloved and respected by his industry peers. If it is rumored he might join a cast, Tinseltown buzzes. For some reason, studio heads never took him seriously as a potential box office goldmine, and ultimately, it’s their loss. But those little nuggets of gold in the independent arena…? They are ripe for discovery, and Bruce could serve as the foundation of such a project.
As he matures, it will be fascinating to see the offers that roll his way. As mentioned, he’s capable of doing anything once cameras are rolling, and though he has a delightful knack to steal scenes with tongue-in-cheek, we’re hopeful someone will offer Bruce the opportunity to truly flex his skill set. Bruce is that guy who would receive a standing ovation from his peers as he accepted any major award.