Exclusive Interview: Bruce Campbell at the Ann Arbor Last Fan Standing Event

Last night, Bruce Campbell, the greatest chin in show business (suck it, Leno), came to The Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor as a stop on his book tour supporting Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, the actor’s newest autobiography. Now, this wasn’t a chance for Campbell to read excerpts like every other author schmuck. Do you honestly believe that’s something Campbell would be caught dead doing? If it doesn’t have an air of excitement or a chance for him to do his thing, what’s the point?

That’s the point of Last Fan Standing, the trivia game show that audiences participate in during these events. Here’s how it works: every audience member gets a clicker with which they can answer 25 multiple choice questions that are targeted towards nerds (hey, that’s paraphrasing Campbell, alright?). The four who perform the best go up on stage and each gets behind a podium where they face off against each other over three rounds. At the end of each round, scores are tallied and the person with the least amount of points gets booted off the stage, shrinking the pool. At the end, the Last Fan Standing is crowned and receives the adulation of the audience.

The fans are great and so is the experience,” Campbell told me before the event. After all, he’s been doing this for a few weeks, so he knows what it’s like. However, that kind of time would have an impact on anyone, Campbell included. “I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not work, it’s summer vacation,” he says with a smile and a slight chuckle in his voice.

You have to understand, sitting across from Campbell is both exactly what you expect and nothing you can prepare for. Much like the characters he portrays across films and shows like Army of Darkness, Evil Dead, Bubba Ho-tep, “Burn Notice”, “Ash vs Evil Dead”, “Xena”, and more, he’s incredibly charismatic, witty, and clever. But what you won’t get from those performances and what you can only realize when coming face-to-face with him for a conversation is just how intelligent and sharp he is. He’s a no-bullshit person, his answers often bitingly short if he feels like you’re being lazy or you haven’t done your homework. It’s refreshing because you have to be on your toes, you have to know what you’re talking about otherwise you get put in your place, as one should. It happened to me and I’m proud to take my licks and keep on going. However, that piercing, steely gaze is going to haunt me for a while.

During Last Fan Standing, Campbell is in full actor mode. He came out to roaring applause from an audience of several hundred, punching and kicking the air while grinning ear-to-ear. He wildly gesticulates while talking, he interacts with the audience – if you can answer his off-the-cuff trivia, he hands out Bruce Bucks, which he would hand to the person who answers the question correctly if he cared to wait but he doesn’t so he just throws it in the air and instructs people to pass it back – and he roasts everyone equally, obviously inspired by the likes of Don Rickles, George Burns, Jimmy Stewart, and the other greats who were quick-witted and bitingly funny.

However, Campbell fully admits that this is all a shtick. “My brother didn’t want to come tonight because he sees it as the persona. He wants to see the person,” he explains. This came up not in discussions about Last Fan Standing but rather when we discussed a chapter in his new autobiography, specifically where Campbell, along with his “Burn Notice” co-star Jeffrey Donovan, travelled to Iraq to meet with the troops. “It’s the person versus the persona and there I’m the person.

It’s a fascinating chapter as it takes the actor completely out of his element into a situation where he has no control. “It’s humbling,” he admits, especially when he speaks about meeting the troops in the hospital, the ones who have truly sacrificed something. Still, he always manages to find some form of humor in any situation, this time in a little game that he and Donovan played. Anytime a soldier asked where “Burn Notice” co-star Gabrielle Anwar was, Campbell had to give Donovan a dollar. However, to even the playing field, Campbell was given a dollar from Donovan anytime someone referenced Ash or Evil Dead in their greeting. “It came out to about even,” Campbell laughs.

Does the entertainer plan on doing something like that again? “I’ll be going to go to [South] Korea in early 2018 for three to four shows. I plan on doing a little bit of this when I’m at the Demilitarized Zone towards the stern North Korean guards,” he says as he rubs the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. “You know, just to see what happens.” Bruce, if you’re reading this, I suggest not doing this but you’re your own man and I can’t stop ya. Go with God.

While each of these events takes place, Campbell recognizes that he has to take the time to celebrate accomplishments. “The book is number eight on the best seller list and we’re waiting for week two to see if it goes up or down. But it’s the highest we’ve gotten. The first was 19, so it’s great,” he says with, strangely, a slight air of humbleness. he explains that the Last Fan Standing tour is extremely busy – he hand signs every copy of his book that attendees will receive with their ticket when he arrives to the venue – but they celebrate when they can.

Moving away from his latest book and the Last Fan Standing events, I asked Bruce about his answer to an interview question our own Matt Boiselle put forth, where he basically asked if Campbell had to choose between acting, directing, writing, or producing, which would he go for? In that interview, Campbell emphatically stated that he’d be an author. When I pressed him about this, he elaborated by saying, “There are way fewer chefs. In a movie, there can be scores of people who have opinions that need to be heard and recognized but with books, this was 98% me. I got notes from my editor, which were easily taken care of, but the majority is me. The graphic design, the layout, the cover… So, if I had the choice, I’d be an author on a mountaintop doing book tours every two to three years.

And speaking about his love of writing, when asked about Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way and if he’d be up for something else in the world of fiction, he stated, “Make Love was pure fiction. It was all pulled it out of my ass. But maybe one day I’ll do something else like that. I could definitely see that.

And what about Campbell’s love of “lollygagging”, which anyone on Twitter will tell you he’s kind of obsessed with. I asked him to define it as it seems people get confused and aren’t aware of its true definition, so he laid it out for me. “It’s not done at home, it’s not done at work, it’s going out fishing, biking, hiking, etc… I don’t like pumping iron. I’ve done it for movies and I don’t like it. But I like getting outside. I’m not advocating for a “7 easy steps to getting healthy”. That’s bullshit. It’s getting out of your house. It’s getting out of your mind.” As for all the photos he keeps getting sent of people either failing or succeeding at lollygagging? “They don’t have to have feet showing in the photo. Someone started that and it just caught on but it’s not necessary,” he laughs. He then added, “I’m thinking of making a coffee table book with all the images I get sent. There are some amazing photos these people take!

During this interview, Campbell has been funny, sharp, charming, and he never breaks eye contact. His stare locks you in, has this ability to keep you in your place, and, without seemingly anything changing, can shift from intense to welcoming. “Tell me, Bruce. What’s next for you?” I shot out. His eyes suddenly break contact and start looking around the room without actually taking anything in, as though the enormity and wonder of his answer strikes him. “Nothing. I’ve got a big block of nothing in my calendar and it’s beautiful. It’s so exciting!

After writing a best-selling autobiography, wrapping up the third season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, and doing a book tour/fan trivia event, that rest is well-deserved indeed.

You can pick up your copy of Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor via Amazon.

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!

Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

Get Your Box of Dread Now
*US Residents Only .