We had the pleasure of interview Bruce Campbell with USA Network’s Burn Notice. We spoke with him about everything from the 3rd season of the series, Evil Dead, and his childhood hobby of blowing things up and making UFO’s.
Can you tell us a bit about what direction we can see Sam going in this third season?
B. Campbell: Well, Sam by now is, we’re now past the point where we don’t trust him. He’s a hopefully valuable member of the team now, and so, like Michael Westen, Sam is taking the twists and turns as they come now. I don’t know that Sam is going to get married or any personal revelation. Sam is pretty much living in Michael’s mother’s house, a room in her house, so he’s just kind of a permanent loser, at least in this season. And he’s always there to help.
I watched the screeners and it felt to me like the third episode should have been the first episode, since it picked up right where the second season left off. Do you know if there was a reason that they were ordered that way?
B. Campbell: Well, that is tough for me to answer, not being in on the big picture like. Actors, we’re always the last people to know anything.
B. Campbell: So I can’t really help you there. I know that we shot them out of order. But they were meant to be screened where, Tim Matheson’s episode, I think it’s “Friends & Family” is the first one, and we shot them out of order because we wanted to kind of get up to speed for the new season before we let them have it with the big opener. So we shot the first episode third, so I don’t know, maybe they gave it to you in some strange order. But it will hopefully make sense when it airs on Thursday.
How is Burn Notice different from past TV shows you’ve done?
B. Campbell: Well, the making of television is the same, it’s very fast. You’re doing between 6 and 11 pages per day, which is a lot. Features probably do three pages. Big features do one page a day. So that’s not different. What’s different, of course, is we’re in Miami, which is a completely out of the box thing for me because I live in Oregon, at the complete opposite end of the country. So it’s different in every way physically, and the dynamics are different. I’ve never really done a spy show before, so this is a first for me. I did a western show, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I did a – well actually, no, I did a spy show, Jack of All Trades, where I played the very first spy, but this is, I guess, you’d say sort of modern day, realistic approach where it’s not Hercules or Xena or something fantastic going on. What’s different is also the subject matter. It’s a fairly mature, adult sort of comedy/drama, with no fantastic special effects.
I wanted to ask about the Expo Center almost getting demolished recently, and it sounds like you got a one-year reprieve to stay there for a while longer.
B. Campbell: We did, we got a one-year reprieve.
I was wondering A) how do you feel about that; and B) if the show had actually got up and moved, where would you have liked to have seen it gone?
B. Campbell: Hypotheticals are tough and I don’t ever want to give any impressions that I don’t like shooting in Miami. It’s good for the show. Miami is a character in this show, and if we moved it would probably be to California because it makes casting easier, all the writers live there, the actors, half of them live there. I live in Oregon, but it would be closer to my West Coast. I have kids there, too, so a lot of personal reasons.
But for the sake of the show Miami is a good spot. It’s an unexploited city. Even CSI: Miami doesn’t even shoot in Miami, they shoot in California, so we’re it. We’re the only show that is currently shooting in Miami, and the governor even came, Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida. It was great palling around with the governor for a day, trying to bend his arm a little bit, saying, “Hey, Gov, why don’t you help us out here?” Because producers tend to go where it’s the least expensive, and that’s nothing against producers, every producer does that. So we have to see, as long as we can get incentives to stay in Florida, we’ll stay. But there’s also the reality of, if we don’t then we’ll leave and fake it. Television is fake, so if we had to fake Florida we could.
It’s interesting, the first episode that’s showing up Thursday night, the way it was constructed, that it really ends up with Madeline talking to all three of you saying that as characters that you all three needed to work together to watch each other’s back, and it seems like Michael has the biggest target. Is that pretty much the whole theme as the season seems to evolve?
B. Campbell: I think so. It’s going to get worse for Michael Westen this year, because of a couple of things that have happened as a result of the last two-parter. So his world is a little more unstable this year. He’s not necessarily under the thumb of Carla any more. She was the evil temptress of the last season.
She’s out of the way, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. His sort of veil of protection has been lifted by these shadowy figures, so now anybody who wants to put a bullet into Michael Westen, which is actually a lot of people, I don’t know – so yes, we do have to stick together. In order to pull through, we’ve all got to be on the same page and watch each other’s back, including Madeline. So, yes, the interpersonal dynamics will get theoretically tighter because if things get worse, you’ve got to know who you can count on.
I notice on the show you drink beer, and I’m a huge beer fan; I write about beer for the site. My question is just simple, what is your favorite beer in every day life?
B. Campbell: I gave up beer last March.
B. Campbell: Yes.
Well, I guess I’m proud of you for that.
B. Campbell: Well, I was only using it to wash my tequila down. I’m just a tequila guy now. But on the show, obviously, it’s a fake brand, but we were actually introducing Miller Genuine Draft 64. And there, I think they’re doing a product tie-in, so Sam’s generic labels in some cases will now go to MGD.
How do you think that Sam compares to your other roles, and what is your favorite part of playing him?
B. Campbell: Oh, I see. Boy, I like Sam because he’s my age. He’s, when I got the original script for the pilot, it said Sam Axe, who’s 50. I thought it, okay. I’m finally playing a mature adult who doesn’t have to, he’s an ex-Navy Seal, he’s tacking around now, he’s trying to get laid and drink beer. And I love the fact that all three characters on this show are sort of damaged goods.
Sam has his issues, Michael has his issues, Fiona has her issues, mostly anger issues. And he’s a character that, to me, feels like an old slipper. He’s not stiff. He doesn’t use all the same terminology. He uses slang. He’s a little bit laid back. He’s wearing Tommy Bahama all the time. And to me, I love the fact that there’s a character who’s that lackadaisical. But at the same time, he can look up anybody; he’s got friends for days, he always knows a guy who knows a guy. So hopefully it’s just a guy that you’d want to pal around with, but yet these guys are very tactical when they want to be.
And … he’s actually more similar to real guys than not. I’ve talked to a bunch of ex-police officers who watch the show, and they like the fact that we’re capturing the human side of spies. Everybody knows James Bond, he’s the greedy tough guy, but no one really knows what he’s like, and no one ever really knows what his relationship is with his mother. In this show, you get to know that; I think it’s great.
Was that like part of your research for becoming Sam?
B. Campbell: With what, bleep with a lot of rich Miami women?
No, I mean – yes, that, of course, but also talking to ex-cops?
B. Campbell: No, that’s as a result of the show. You run into a lot of police officers who help us on the show, and they have buddies and buddies, and my ex-wife is remarried to a cop, and so I’ve been talking to him and all his cop buddies, it’s their favorite show now because we do things in an unorthodox way and I’ll bet many police officers wish they could do what we do. Because we don’t have to answer to anybody. We do things that are illegal but not immoral.
In playing the character of Sam, you would know him better than anyone else, so what is your favorite and least favorite aspect of Sam’s personality?
B. Campbell: He’s very loyal. He’s not going to rat on anybody, even in the first season where you didn’t know if he was ratting on Michael, he never really did. He always just stalled the cops, so very loyal. And he is trustworthy, even though he drinks a lot of beer. His other traits are, I wish he could get a job and an apartment, and a car that he can hang onto. We’re going through, like about every fourth episode, Sam gets another one of his cars wrecked. So he doesn’t even have a car, and he doesn’t even have an address, so I’d like to see, I wouldn’t mind some of that happening. But, whatever, I’m not telling the writers what to do. They’re doing a fine job.
Obviously Burn Notice has a lot of action sequences, do you find the action sequences to be the hardest part of each episode to film, or are they one of the things that are the most fun during production?
B. Campbell: It all depends on what you’re doing. Fight scenes can be fun, but they can be very tedious and sweat-inducing, so those take a little more effort. I blew my hamstring last year during a fight scene, so they don’t have me fight as much these days, but action sequences are very broken up when we film them. They’re little tiny pieces that get all put together. So with an action sequence, you just have to hope that what you’re doing is fitting in, because you’re only getting a tiny sequence of view, like looking through a scope ready to fire, or something like that. So when it’s all put together is when it becomes an action sequence, but actually shooting an action sequence, unless you’re chasing somebody, they’re actually the least exciting to film.
What is it like playing the comical one to Michael’s kind of straight man? It’s kind of a pattern here, you’ve got Jack Stiles in Brisco, you didn’t really have anyone to play off there, you were the main character, the main guy. What is it like playing off of him?
B. Campbell: It’s great, because he carries the show. I’m just hiding behind him, cracking jokes and getting out of there. So it’s fine to actually be the guy who doesn’t, you know, Sam can be a little snotty, he can be a little snide, he’s sort of a naysayer, and he always second guesses things that these guys do to make sure it’s safe or tactical, whereas Michael gets involved from a passionate level. He’s got to help these people, whereas Sam’s like, no, you don’t, no you don’t. So sometimes he’s the voice of reason. But it’s nice to have that difference between the characters, and Michael does have kind of his funny wit, a lot of it comes out in the voiceover that he does, but someone’s got to be the straight guy, and fortunately, it’s Michael Westen.
I’ve always gotten the sense that behind his wise-cracking, easy-going facade that Sam is actually tougher than people realize, with a pretty intense background of his own. Is there a darker side to Sam in his past, and might we see that touched upon at all this season?
B. Campbell: Well, you saw a little bit in the first season when he was being interrogated, you realize that he’s interrogated people a lot, he’s been interrogated, and he knows how to handle it. So yes, it’s nice to see that there is a tough side to these guys amid all the joking, because I think that’s really how it would be. These guys are tough on the inside but on the outside they’re just normal schmoes.
As far as the dark side, I’m sure that Sam has killed multiple people. I’m sure Michael Westen has killed multiple people. Fiona probably has killed more than both of us. So, you’ll have to ask her about her dark side. Sam, I think, will go to the dark side, but he doesn’t stay there. That’s not his bag. If something is horrible, it’s horrible, and then you move on because the next day you don’t know if you’re even going to be around. So I think Sam has appreciated a sense of life, by being so close to death.
You just mentioned that we’ll see a bit of Sam’s past and I read somewhere that season three will be dealing a lot with Michael, Fiona, and Sam’s past. Is everything from Sam’s past going to be connected to Michael, or will it be unrelated events?
B. Campbell: Oh, no, Sam’s got his own past, but I’m sure if they bring up any of our pasts, it will relate to the future; like we’re shooting an episode right now that is very Fiona-oriented. Her past is coming back to haunt us now, in a very, very bad way. So I think what they’ll do in that case is that they allude to someone’s past, it’ll be because somebody, you know, Sam’s done something in the past. We even had an episode with this character Virgil who is dating Michael’s mother. The first episode that he was in was he was an old pal of mine who got into some trouble, and that happens a lot. Sam has things from his past that come up to haunt us currently, so I think you’ll see more of that.
I’ve always found the stories of Sam and his girlfriends fascinating. How does he find these women, or are his criteria really just car and money-based, or is there more to it?
B. Campbell: No, it’s what he does to the ladies. It’s his special skill with the ladies. So it doesn’t matter that he has no job or car or place to live. Sam can still get the ladies because, obviously, he’s doing something with or to the ladies that is very successful, which we can’t discuss here.
Could you tell us something about Sam that the audience doesn’t know, that you know, maybe even the writers don’t even know, but something that you know about Sam?
B. Campbell: About Mr. Sam Axe? That he reads a lot. He reads fiction, because it takes away from the reality; and that his favorite book is Wuthering Heights. That Sam is a secret romantic. That’s all I can reveal. I’ll have to kill you if I tell you more.
Do you ever try to think of what the writers might have in store for Sam, like, I know actors like to be challenged, maybe thinking, oh, he could have, like a serious girlfriend, or maybe get some sort of disease, or drug addiction, or do you just sort of, let’s wait and see what the writers do?
B. Campbell: It’s tempting to do that, it’s tempting to go, why can’t I do this, or why can’t my character do that? The show is the star of the show, do you know what I mean? It’s all about the burn notice. It’s all about Michael Westen and his burn notice. So for Sam to get a disease or a long-time girlfriend, I think that there’s a certain point where that would start to interfere with just the essence of the show.
What’s really happening here is all these kooky characters are solving problems for little people, and I think our characters get revealed in what we do and how we approach this. All three of them are very decent people who are committed to, Fiona’s not really committed to a certain government, but she is committed to doing the right thing. So I think that’s what’s most important, is that the relationship between the three characters. I just think we shouldn’t distract from what’s going on, the issues at hand. They’ve been good, though. We’ve got an episode coming up, I think it’s the fourth episode, where Sam gets audited. So, there are some fun, real-life things that come into play. We found out earlier that Sam had been married years ago, so I think those things will just come out. I actually find it the most exciting if I can get a script and I don’t know anything about it. Like I’m reading a brand new one, episode ten, just started reading it, and I can’t wait because I don’t really have any idea what they’re going to do.
You do voice acting and you do live acting, like Burn Notice. What do you like better doing?
B. Campbell: I like a little bit of everything. I like, the phrase we used in Detroit was “job rotation.” That meant that you could do different things at different times. So this fall there’s a movie, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs that’s coming out. It’s a pretty well-known kid’s book that they’re animating it to be 3D animation. That’s a lot of fun because you lay down a voice track and they create an entire world that you won’t see for months. I recorded this last year, and I won’t see it for a year and a half later. So that’s kind of an interesting thing. You forget about it and then it comes back and you see everything that they’ve done to it. And you realize you’re an integral part but it’s still, you’re a part of this big hole. Television acting is great. I like it because it’s so quick; you don’t have to wait around. And feature film acting is a lot of fun because you can do very in-depth stories, but it takes a long time to shoot them, and sometimes it’s more tedious to do a big budget movie.
You mention a little bit about Tim Aston coming back, so can you tell us anything about any other guest stars you might be seeing this season?
B. Campbell: Oh, boy, guest stars. They come and go. We got Nick Turturro, who was on NYPD Blue, he’s playing a weasely criminal character. I’m not so good with rattling all the things off. We’re starting to get a good stable of directors, like Tim Matheson is becoming a stable director element. So it would be nice to see him come back. I hope he’s in another episode as this guy Larry. He plays this crazy guy, Larry, who, I hope he comes back, because Tim is a really good actor, too. We had Lucy Lawless, I think on our second episode we got Lucy in. That was real fun to do. I got a bunch of friends we’re always trying to get in there. They’re coming and going. So it’s sort of a stay tuned thing, to see who is coming. But the nice thing is when you have a hit show, you can get better actors. No one wants to be on a show with lousy ratings.
So, have you finished shooting the season already?
B. Campbell: No, we’re about halfway through, we’re working on episode eight right now. So we’re just about halfway through. We finish the end of August.
It’s kind of interesting that since, like with the Bourne movies, there’s been this great fascination with an explosion of films and TV shows about spies and covert ops like Burn Notice and 24 and, like I said, the Bourne movies. What do you attribute that fascination with people watching it, and what do you think distinguishes Burn Notice from the other works?
B. Campbell: First, I’d go with what distinguishes Burn Notice from the rest of the gang is that we have a sense of humor. Bourne Identity is very humorless, and 24 is completely humorless, so I think what we have there is a sense of humor to let people know that this is still entertainment. This is not reality, and we have no intention of going there.
I think people are interested in spies because they represent a heightened aspect of their own lives. It’s the same people who want to ride on a roller coaster, they want to get that second hand thrill. So you go see a spy because you know he’s going to be shot at, you know he’s going to get sexy ladies, you know he’s going to be cool, and you know he’s usually going to succeed by doing some really cool thing, so it’s just a certain form of entertainment that is very extreme. We like to see explosions and gunshots and car chases, and spies really provide all that in a very, sort of organic way, because that’s their job. But I think we are definitely different between other spy shows because when Michael Westen isn’t saving the world from bad guys, he’s helping his mother fix her garbage disposal. So that’s a huge difference.
Who do you think makes a better enemy, zombies from the Necronomicon, or the spies of Burn Notice?
B. Campbell: Apples and oranges, my friend. I would say zombies in general, I don’t think are that good of bad guys because you can’t understand them, like the true zombie, the shuffling zombie. You can’t communicate with them and they’re too slow. Evil Dead, they’re possessed people, not technically zombies, I guess. They’re okay. I think spies are a better bad guy, meaning they’re more challenging. You don’t always have to cut a bad guy up with a chain saw, you can just shoot him. So it might be harder to kill a zombie, but it’s easier to get away from a zombie, and it might be easier to kill a bad guy like a spy, but it’s harder to hide from a spy, because they have the tricks that you have. That’s my theory.
Between doing TV and movies, is there a dream role that you would like to some day tackle?
B. Campbell: No, only because I live in the world of reality. I know that Marty Scorsese, he’s not going to be calling. So those misguided dreams I don’t really deal with. What I really try and do is make the best out of every situation, because in B movies you’re not always going to work with the top people, you’re going to work with people who are either on their way up or on their way down. But that’s where I think kind of the fun is and the original ideas, which is why it attracts me to that world.
When I watch Burn Notice, I get the impression that Michael, for example, is at heart a do-gooder, but with Sam, I don’t get that feeling exactly, I get the feeling that he’s with Michael and Fiona on their adventures because he respects them and they’re among the very few friends that he has. Could you speak to how that affects the way you play the role?
B. Campbell: Sam actually has a good sense of right and wrong; sometimes he’s the little canary in the coal mine on the show, “Mike, this doesn’t sound good, or I think this is dangerous,” or whatever. I think Sam is realistic, he’s probably, I wouldn’t say jaded, I don’t want to say jaded, but I just think he’s realistic in that if he doesn’t trust a guy, his BS meter would tell him that this guy is a moron. I think Sam makes probably quicker decisions, maybe he’s a little more hasty in making it, and yes, I think if he hadn’t run into Fiona and Mike, he wouldn’t be looking for people to help. He would be looking for a beer to drink.
I thought the wealthy beer distributor was like a match made in heaven for Sam , butthat didn’t quite work out. What’s the future of his love life looking like?
B. Campbell: He’s got this woman he’s dating, Ms. Reynolds, but it’s only because she loaned him a cool car. So I don’t think it’s real serious. And I don’t think there’s that much floating around. I think, if it’s integral to the story and we can get some value out of it, I think they’ll do that. But I don’t think they’re doing it because I feel like I need to have a romance. I kind of like Sam just picking up ladies.
So we’ve seen you in the Old Spice commercials. Can we expect a Sam Axe body spray?
B. Campbell: It’s weird, they’re putting commercials inside the TV shows now. I’ve already done ads, unpaid I might add, for DirecTV. I even have a line of dialogue. “Mike, we can’t go back into that bar now. It’s my favorite, it’s got DirecTV in HD.” Cadillac we’ve promoted. Panerai watches we promoted, and now Miller Genuine Draft, so, unfortunately the way advertising is going, I may not be doing a Sam Axe body spray because they’ll just put it in the show. So things are changing rapidly. It’s a very strange world out there as far as advertising goes.
Do you do a lot of things, sort of impromptu on the set, or with your comrades, do you guys just sort of go off the cuff every time?
B. Campbell: We never look for that. We do respect the writers, but there are some situations that the script won’t flesh out. There are sequences where Sam has to stall, for example, or he has to go into a Pakistani Embassy and create a scene. Well, it’s hard for a writer to write every single bit of that, but when they go to shoot it, you come to find out that you need a lot more material than you had in order to cut back and forth, and to give Michael Westen time to do something, you need something to cut back to. So that’s more where we’ll improvise. I’ve done this Chuck Finley character for a number of episodes and whenever Chuck’s around, there’s more opportunities from that. Or, honestly, at the end of the scene comes and we don’t have a way to put a good button on it or a little spin or a little something, then we’ll come up with something. But normally, we’ll let the writers do their thing and we’ll see if we can help them out, if it’s appropriate.
I kind of find funny with all the little situations that Mike has to help solve for average citizens and just people looking for their help is, it kind of has that borderline of being inspired by real stuff, but completely original, and I think what’s good about the show is that they’ve so far shied away from the sort of Law & Order formula of ripped directly from the headlines. How do you feel that the writers are going to keep going with that without having to avoid going to that sort of a Law & Order style of coming up with different situations like that?
B. Campbell: I think the good news is with Burn Notice, you have more leeway to come up with weirder characters. I haven’t really watched enough of Law & Order to fully comment intelligently, but I think in our situation the writers have more leeway because they can be from other countries, because international spies, we’ve got guys from other countries coming in, so geez, we’ve had Cuban, Lebanese, Russian, Ukrainian, pretty much spies from all over the place, so I actually think our writers have more leeway because they can make up stuff that Michael and Sam and Fi were involved in in the past. They don’t get constrained by reality, so I think we have more leeway.
Back to Sam and his women for a minute. You said the stories there would have to be germane to the overall plot, and I know, as you said, Sam is living with Michael’s mom right now. Is there any chance for him to see something there?
B. Campbell: With his mother? No, no. Sam and Madeline will never hook up, because it’s Mike’s mother; it’s too creepy. It would be something where I think Sam would feel uncomfortable with that, and as it is, Sam already behaves a little differently when Maddy’s around because it is Mike’s mother. Like, Sam will never really yell at Maddy, or whatever. They’ll bicker sometimes, but he respects her as Mike’s mother.
I’ve noticed about the show is that Michael likes to make weird gadgets here and there to help out the situation. What, to you, whether it’s real or from the show, is your favorite gadget of all time?
B. Campbell: Meaning in real life, or from the show?
Either way, yes, as long as by gadget that you’ve liked a lot or that you’ve used, what’s your most favorite?
B. Campbell: I haven’t really used any of the gadgets, because obviously they don’t really work. As a kid I just blew stuff up. My brother had magnesium and we had sulfur and we had some other ingredients, gun powder, and we would just blow things up, so that was as close as I ever got. The best gadget my brothers and I ever made was a UFO, where we made it out of balsa wood strut. It was a rectangular shape with a dry cleaning bag over the top of it, with a couple of struts at the bottom that we glued handles to; and you light the candles on fire, the heat goes up into the bag and because the balsa wood is so light, it just lifts off into the air; and so we sent numerous UFOs from our neighborhood, and one of them got written up in the local paper as a UFO sighting.
Do you plan on directing again soon, and would you possibly want to direct Burn Notice?
B. Campbell: Yes, I’d like to direct another movie one day. Movies are more my bag. I’ve directed television in the past. I’ve done Hercules and Xena episodes, and even a couple of VIPs with Pamela Anderson, but I don’t think directing Burn Notice is in the cards for me because it changes the dynamics of all the actors. Directors and actors have much different, I guess, motives and goals, and I don’t want any of my directing skills to impact my relationship with the actors, which is currently very good. So I don’t really want to boss anybody around, because I think it’ll change something, so I don’t think I’m going to go there.
Some of my favorite parts on the show are when Sam and Fi have to go ahead and be on stakeouts, and always something ends up going wrong. Can we anticipate any really good Sam and Fi action here this season?
B. Campbell: Oh, sure. Whatever you get on the other seasons you’ll get this season, too, because they’re still not fishing buddies. I mean, they’ll agree to work with each other but I don’t think they would associate with each other otherwise, so it’s a good opportunity to let the sparks fly a little bit. So that won’t change. That will continue to happen.
You mentioned that you like to watch basketball. Who are you rooting for, for the finals?
B. Campbell: Nobody who’s in it.
Nobody who’s in it?
B. Campbell: No, I wanted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs, but they folded, because anyone but Kobe Bryant. But now I’m rooting for Orlando because anyone has to beat the Lakers, because I’m a Detroit Pistons fan originally, and the Lakers were always the evil West Coast people. And then I moved to LA and now I’m tortured because having lived there for ten years, now I see Kobe everywhere. But I hope Orlando shakes them up good, sets them up and knocks them down.
A lot of your work has been in the, sort of what we call genre shows; science fiction, fantasy, horror, comic book…
B. Campbell: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
And I was wondering if this was a planned effort on your part, or just sort of happened?
B. Campbell: It’s a little of both. You are guilty by association, so when my first movie was Evil Dead, which is now 30 years ago …
B. Campbell: … when we made the movie – that film was pretty successful and allowed a couple of others to be made and what it did is, it just sort of put me in the genre world, right from the go-get. I suppose if I had made a romantic comedy when I was 21 and that did crazy, then I’d be the romantic comedy guy. It’s kind of how Hollywood works. So, it’s material that I’m sort of interested in, though, too, at the same time, so part of me perpetuates it in that I gravitate toward oddball stories, some genre stuff, not all horror. I like fantasy and sci-fi and that sort of stuff, too, but for me, I guess it’s the combination of starting out in the genre and then being attracted to certain material that could also be considered genre.
Do you think there is any chance that Sam Raimi would ever direct an episode of the series?
B. Campbell: Sam Raimi will never direct an episode of Burn Notice because it’s done too quickly. Sam is used to shooting these big, big, big, big, big movies, and it takes 100 days or more to film a two-hour piece of entertainment. We film these shows in seven days, so it’s a real different mentality of features versus television. So I wouldn’t wish that on Sam, because it’s actually a difficult challenge every week to pull these shows off, not that Spider-Man 3 isn’t, but we have a little bit of a different circumstance here.
Speaking of Sam Raimi, do you know if he’s watched any of Burn Notice and if so, if he’s had any comments on it? And has he spoken to you at all recently about Spider-Man 4?
B. Campbell: Sam, I don’t know that if he’s watched the show, I don’t think he has. I don’t think he’s a big TV guy. He’s very aware of the show because I keep tormenting him that we’re like the number one show on cable, and whenever we’re number one in something, whether it’s Sam is number one at the box office or we’re, as friends, we always will send that needling e-mail saying “Yeah, man, number one on cable.” Then he would send something of, “Oh, yeah, Spider-Man, you know, we’re number one for the opening weekend.” So we have a little bit of fun back and forth, so Sam is very aware of the show, whether he’s seen it, you’ve got me.
I heard that there were rumors of new movies such as another Evil Dead, maybe another Phantasm, maybe even another Bubba Ho-tep, which has sexy vampires, so you could be good with the ladies. I was wondering if there are any other projects underway other than Burn Notice that you might like to get involved with or that you know of that you’re going to be doing.
B. Campbell: Well, I’ll clarify a couple things. There’s really no sequel for Evil Dead planned right now. We are going to forge ahead and do the remake; we are going to do that. There’s nothing for me in the remake, though, do you know what I mean? That’s a cast of young people. So I’ll be on as the producer but I won’t be in it other than playing the old guy at the bait store at the beginning. So there’s nothing for me in that. Another thing to clarify, they’re probably going to do a Bubba Ho-tep sequel, but it won’t have me in it. I couldn’t come to an agreement with the director, Don Coscarelli, on a story, so I think it’s going to be Ron Perlman in that. And as far as the things to look forward to, I have another book coming out eventually called Vagabond, The Gypsy Life of an Actor, which should be out in a couple of years. And that’s the answer to that.
You’ve been mentioning the sexy ladies a lot, and I do have a question for you. Outside of Fiona, of course, who is your favorite sexy lady on the screens or TV right now?
B. Campbell: I’m always a big fan of Kelly Rutherford, from when I worked with her on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., so she’s definitely babe-a-licious. Just a lot of women I’ve worked with in the past; Elizabeth Hurley, I thought she was pretty babe-a-licious, Alyssa Milano. That’s the fringe benefit of being an actor, you get to, it’s sort of staged infidelity.
When you’re off and just hanging out, what are you doing in terms of hobbies or things that just –
B. Campbell: What do I do for fun?
B. Campbell: Florida is really flat, so I’m a bicycle, not like a power bicyclist, I’m a tooler. I just take a stupid, I’ve got, I think it’s seven whole gears on my bike, and my wife and I will just take off and go explore. They’ve got a couple good bike paths around here, so pretty normal, everyday stuff. I’m a news freak, because I live in the world of unreality, I actually crave reality, so my reading material is the New York Times, and I watch the news, and basketball, because we’re in basketball season, so pretty straightforward generic guy stuff.
Regarding on your blog, you really talk about how Hollywood doesn’t use its seasoned actors, like they kind of have in the past?
B. Campbell: Yes.
How would you kind of work to change the perception of what audiences want? Not all of us are 14 years old.
B. Campbell: No, that’s true, and the good news is that there have been a couple of shows that have busted through and appealed to a whole different audience, like something like Golden Girls. You can really make fun of that show if you want, but what that show did is, it wound up proving to people that even “old” people can be entertaining and can entertain you. So what I like about Burn Notice is that none of us are the young, pretty face. Donovan has been around for 20 years, I’ve been doing this for 30, and then Sharon Gless has been doing it for 40, and I think Gabrielle has been doing this since she was a kid, so she’s probably 30 years at this. So, I like the fact that USA, because their slogan is Characters Welcome, they’ve really taken it upon themselves to do character-based shows, not something that’s based on your age or your beauty. So I’m really glad to be part of a mature ensemble cast where we’re not worried about all the wrong things.
Big series you’re known for, Jack of All Trades and Brisco County, Jr., and now Burn Notice, they’re very cinematic. They’re something that you didn’t see. I know Jack of All Trades and Brisco, back in the day, you didn’t see anything like that. They were more movies than they were TV shows. Are you attracted to that sort of thing, or is it just a coincidence?
B. Campbell: It’s just the subject matter. Jack of All Trades. was just kind of a pretty looking show with big cops and drama, and Brisco being a western. Westerns, I’m always, I’m still looking for another western today. It’s a genre that every actor wishes they could do, and it was a really enjoyable year, running around, playing with horses, shooting guns, kissing the ladies. And some jobs are the cliche job, and that’s one of them. But every actor wants to be in a western, and so, I’m definitely attracted to certain types of material.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been in all three of the Spider-Man movies. Are there any future plans on being in any of the future Spider-Man movies?
B. Campbell: I’ll probably be in Spider-Man 4, but I never hear from Sam usually until the last minute, when they’ve got everything worked out. So we’ll just see what he’s got up his sleeve.
Interview By: Emma Loggins