Facing Army of Darkness’ material ghouls is all in a midnight’s work for Bruce Campbell, who plays the hunky hero Ash in all three of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. The star, screenwriter, or producer of more than a dozen shockers such as Mindwarp and Maniac Cop, Campbell began his film career in 1975, making Super-8 movies in his native Detroit with high school buddy Raimi. Today, Campbell, 34, regrets having made ”about half” of his films, though he feels they all served a purpose. ”That allowed me to do this, that allowed me to do that,” he says with a swagger suited to his cartoonish handsomeness. ”I bought a house, I bought a car.”
Campbell’s success as a low-rent leading man, however, has led to typecasting. ”It’s possible that (directors) thought he’d only be right for a horror film,” says Raimi, ”but he’s a very talented comedian.” Joel and Ethan Coen think so: They cast Campbell in their upcoming comedy The Hudsucker Proxy with Tim Robbins and Paul Newman. ”The Coens get all these big shots,” Campbell says. ”I’m looking around saying, ‘What am I doing here?’ I was waiting for the bucket of blood to land on my head.”
Currently starring in a Fox network pilot for a Western series called The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Campbell (who lives with his wife and two kids in North Hollywood) will make his big-time directing debut starting this spring with I.R.S. Media’s The Man With the Screaming Brain. The ”love story,” which he wrote and will star in, follows a wealthy white suburbanite who winds up with part of a Latino street hustler’s brain in his head. ”It ain’t Pinter,” Campbell concedes. As smart-aleck Ash would say: Duh.