Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Talking shop: Bruce Campbell

by Kev Geoghegan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News


My Name is Bruce

"I'm not one of those shallow, sex machines like all those other Hollywood types."

So says cult B-movie actor Bruce Campbell in his latest big screen incarnation as....cult B-movie actor Bruce Campbell.

The actor is sending himself, and his fans, up in a new movie that he directed, produced, stars in and pretty much paid for.

In My Name Is Bruce, Evil Dead star Campbell plays himself as a lonely, womanising, washed up alcoholic with a bad habit of drunk-dialling his ex-wife from his old, broken-down trailer home.

Bruce Campbell
Campbell has had brief cameos in all three Spider-Man movies
In the low-budget feature, Campbell is kidnapped by one of his fans - who mistakenly believes that he really is a slayer of demons - to battle a real-life nasty.

Last month, martial arts star Jean Claude Van Damme, another actor who is arguably past his prime, played himself in JCVD.

In the part-confessional, part-fictional film, Van Damme talks openly about his battle with drugs and alcohol and his troubled private life.

Campbell tells the BBC why movie stars suddenly seem so keen to play downtrodden versions of themselves.

Why make a movie that sends yourself up like this?

I am innocent of all the charges. This movie was presented to me by Mark Verheiden (co-writer of Jim Carrey movie The Mask) and the guys at Dark Horse Entertainment who work on the Hellboy films. I thought, 'An hour and half of making myself look like a jerk? Let's do it!'"

You star in the film, you've produced it, you built the set on your property... did you sink a lot of cash into it as well?

Any time you make a movie that's under $200m, you're going to put some of your own money into it. It got to a point where the composer would say, 'Y'know Bruce, let's get some real strings here because it'll sound great'. And I'd be like, 'Really, do we really need them... well (mimes signing a cheque)...ok'.

There's no studio to get the money back from. If it was The Dark Knight, you can go crying to Warner Bros. for another week of shooting and, of course, they'd give it to you because it's Batman.

My Name Is Bruce cast
The film was shot on a film set built on Campbell's property

On IMDB (Internet Movie Database), there's a quote attributed to you which says, "There is a large element of me in every role I do". So how much of you is in this drinking, womanising loser?

There is none of me in here, this is the first time I've gone fully method. I probably shouldn't have said that quote. The challenge in this was how bad to make myself and the answer was: bad.

If you make the guy a jerk and a loser, at least he has somewhere to go, he's got a redemptive arc to his story. I just thought, let's not worry about what people think about 'Bruce Campbell'.

But people will still be confused, there's a lot of movie which is real, but I'll never divulge.

Jean Claude Van Damme recently played himself in a film, now you. Why are so many actors keen to send themselves up in films at the moment?

I think this 'meta-movie' thing is just a phase. I don't intend to play myself for the rest of my life. I'm kind of done with me.

I think, these days, actors and audiences are much more clued in to pop culture. You see your face everywhere, you're on YouTube, everything is way more immediate and fans start to think they know you because they can watch so much extra footage of you.

In the days of Rock Hudson, it was all very controlled. You had photos of him out on dates and at premieres with pretty women on his arm. But when he was off set, you never saw the long-distance shot of him with his gut hanging out and a Mai Tai in his hand.

Kids are aware now of opening box office grosses and figures, it's very disturbing. In my case, it might be a subliminal reaction to mess with people's perceptions. If you think you know me... nope, you're going to get it bad.

My Name Is Bruce opens in UK cinemas for a limited run on 13 February. It is released on DVD on 2 March.

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