There are few people as at ease in the convention circuit as actor and author Bruce Campbell. From numerous Evil Dead sequels and spinoffs, to Burn Notice, to his latest instantly iconic cameo in longtime collaborator Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Campbell has borne it all with his characteristic blend of sarcasm and charm. Decked out in what he referred to as “unemployed actor” threads, Campbell joined us at San Diego Comic Con to discuss the upcoming Blu-ray release of the Doctor Strange as well as his upcoming projects both in and out of the feverishly beloved Evil Dead franchise.
45 Seconds to Change it All
Campbell insists that his recent role as Pizza Poppa (or P², as he calls to him) was far more than a gimmick to keep up with the tradition of Bruce appearing, at least briefly, in most of Raimi’s films. “Oh he had a little part, a little cameo,” he says bitterly, “not when it’s pivotal. I changed the frickin’ timeline of Doctor Strange by 45 seconds. Don’t you think that’s significant? He basically didn’t get hit by a taxi because of that interaction, so I had to save his life for a reason. You think Pizza Poppa’s done? Think again.”
He goes on to describe the interchangeable nature of the Pizza Poppas across the Multiverse, whom he likened to black socks. According to Campbell, “Pizza Poppa is Doctor Strange’s savior.” And furthermore? The pizza selling is all an act, apparently. “He’s a spy–he’s an agent of the future. He’s not a pizza vendor okay? That’s the role that he played so that he could slip into Doctor Strange’s world, ‘oh I’m just a pizza vendor, guy on the side of the street’. If he came as a super hero, Doctor Strange would go ‘Woah! I gotta do some weird digital sh*t!'”
For legal reasons, Campbell could not divulge any further details.
Bad Book in the Big City
Campbell is also serving as Executive Producer on the upcoming Evil Dead Rise which he confirms is not a direct continuation of the 2013 Evil Dead from director Fede Álvarez and, furthermore, will not see the return of Jane Levy’s Mia.
“It’s not that kind of timeline,” says Campbell. “It’s all about that darn book. Where does that darn book show up?”
An apartment, apparently, in Evil Dead Rise where Campbell explains the story centers around a single mom, features some bad family dynamics and will “freak your sh*t out.” While it may not be a direct sequel to the 2013 film, it will , like it’s predecessor, be a horror film, and not fall into the horror-comedy hybrid genre of Evil Dead 2 or Starz’s 2015 series Ash vs Evil Dead, in which Campbell returned to star as longtime trash talking protagonist Ash Williams.
A Hero with Humanity
While Evil Dead Rise may not combine genres, another of Campbell’s soon to be released projects does. Sgt Rock vs the Army of the Dead, an upcoming publication for DC, marks the first time that Campbell has been a Comic-Con promoting a comic.
“I was contacted by DC and they said ‘hey we wanna bring some of our characters into the horror world,” Campbell explains, “and I’m not known as a comic book writer, I think, ’cause I’m a horror guy, they went, ‘I dunno, try Campbell, see what he’s up to.” He proceeded to pour through a database of DC heroes only to discover that Sgt. Rock, a character he’d loved as a child in the 60s, was part of DC’s roster.
“Sgt Rock was my dude. He’s a great hero because he could be killed at any moment,” Campbell explains. “His super powers are loyalty, he’s courageous, and he’s patriotic.”
Reflecting on the appeal of a character who, in a comic universe populated by meta humans, can be taken out by a sniper’s bullet, Campbell says, “I wanna bring him back. He was a great staple in the 60s . . . some of these characters have just fallen by the wayside and, come on Sarge, we need ya man. We need him now more than ever.”
And, if you’re going to bring back a lesser known hero with hopes to elevate him to the status of icon, who better than Bruce Campbell to do it? Even if it takes another decade or so for people to “get it”.
Check out Sgt. Rock vs the Army of the Dead #1 from DC Comics in September and catch Bruce Campbell as “Pizza Poppa” in Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness on Blu-ray Tuesday July 26th.