The now 60-year-old, who had been playing chainsaw-wielding Ash Williams from the “Evil Dead” franchise since the 1979 film, officially retired in 2018 from the playing the character.
The actor has since moved on to serve as executive producer and host of Travel Channel’s “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” which is inspired by cartoonist and amateur anthropologist Robert Ripley’s obsession with the extraordinary and unusual.
Campbell spoke with Fox News about retiring Ash, what fans of “Evil Dead” can expect in the future, rebooting “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” as well as his surprisingly ordinary life In Oregon.
Fox News: How does it feel to retire Ash?
Bruce Campbell: It feels pretty good physically. I’m 60. I don’t need to be crawling around in dank basements covered in blood. My wife saw me all crabby sitting in my trailer one day filming “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” the latest version of this. She says, “Man, you got poopy diaper syndrome.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” She goes, “You’re like a kid sitting in a poopy diaper all day. You’re just crabby and miserable.” I said, “You know, I think you’re right.” So it was a pretty good time to get out, get out before it’s time for the walker and holding you up by strings.
Fox News: Do you envision a new actor taking on the character in your place for a future show or a film?
Campbell: I wouldn’t play Ash. I would just let Ash go. We’ve already done a remake where we had a female lead, Jane Levy, doing a great job playing the heroine. I wanted to do more stories. We’re developing more “Evil Dead” movies right now, not with the Ash character, but the “Evil Dead” is all about taking ordinary people and putting them into a really dire situation. That’s all it is, so it can be done with anybody, any character.
Fox News: How has it been doing conventions over the years?
Campbell: Conventions are great. In the old days, it used to be actors who haven’t worked in 35 years in old TV shows. Now it’s Norman Reedus from “The Walking Dead.” They do current shows that are on the air right now. I love it mostly because I can meet all of my idols when I was a kid… I met them all, and it’s mostly because I go to these conventions now.
Fox News: How was it meeting William Shatner for the first time?
Campbell: Shatner’s great as long as you don’t go “Star Trek.” Don’t hit him with, “Hey, you were great in ‘Star Trek.'” He would yawn and roll his eyes. I hit him with T.J. Hooker because I actually watched that show, and I complimented him on his stunt driving. He was very interested in talking about that, so I became his pal. And now I know to say hi to Bill and then leave him alone. We have a great relationship.
Fox News: Do you ever see yourself revisiting “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.”?
Campbell: Well, you know, never say never because again, these things keep popping back up. I would do it because I love Westerns and I loved doing that show. We were only on the air for a year, but it’s aged well and people have really enjoyed it, so yeah. You could have that guy going for one more ride, have him start out as a lawyer and somebody dies and he’s got to suit up again, but it would be difficult. It would be challenging.
Fox News: What’s the strangest or most unusual encounter you ever had with a fan?
Campbell: You know what, guys just want to smoke a doobie with me. I used to tour. When I’d tour, my wife would go, “Have fun with your guy fans.”… I don’t have weird encounters because it’s all weird, you know? The thing that is different though is people connect me, they assume I have a great love of horror. I had a woman come up and she says, “I’ve got some poetry that you’ll really like,” and I started to read it, and it was the most terrifying material I’ve ever read in my life. I had to ditch it after about half of a sentence. It was so disturbing, but they thought that’s what I would like.
Fox News: It’s been reported one of your favorite character actors happens to be the late Jack Carson, a name that not too many people would recognize.
Campbell: No. Nobody knows Jack Carson, and that’s the beauty of it. Jack Carson was in everything. He was in so many movies in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s. He was always the bartender, “Hey pal, how are you doing?” the guy next door, “Hey neighbor, what’s going on?” He was the milkman — whatever he wanted them to be. And he could sort of do a little bit of everything, a very talented guy. I think he did a little bit of television, but every time I saw him, he entertained me, and they would put him in their movies, just, “Let’s get Jack Carson to play the bellboy,” or whatever, and he had a great career. Guys like that I go, “I’d be good with that.”
Fox News: How has he influenced you over the years?
Campbell: Well, Jack Carson is no different than anybody other actors who have. Bob Hope was an influence. I thought his early movies were funny as hell, not so much the cheesy Bob Hope specials in the ’80s. But I had a lot of influences. The old-time actors influenced me. I love all the old guys.
Fox News: What’s it been like living in Oregon?
Campbell: Oh, Oregon is great because they don’t care who you are or where you’re from or what you do. The first week I moved in 20 years ago, a guy across the street, he’s a rancher, comes up in his old beat-up car. He goes, “I understand you played a cowboy in a TV show.” I said, “Yes sir, I did.” He goes, “Well, why don’t you help me run 100 head of cattle up the road on Saturday?” I was like, “You got a horse?” He goes, “Of course I’ve got a horse.” I said, “What time do you want me there?” “Eight o’clock.” “OK, I’ll be there.” So I showed up at eight o’clock, met all my neighbors. I passed this guy’s test. We herded the cattle, done a deal, so that’s what I like about Oregon. They don’t care what your deal is, just help me out because I’ve got stuff to do this Saturday.
Fox News: What compelled you to host “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” at this point in your career?
Campbell: Well, stuff comes across the old desk, and you evaluate it for what it is, and I was very familiar with “Ripley’s.” As a kid, I read all their old books and loved their illustrations of strange things happening, and they’ve been around for 100 years. It’s like working for Ivory Soap. They’ve been around forever, so I thought, “You know what? It sounds fun. Let’s do it.” You know, I started out in Detroit, Michigan hosting industrial films that no one would ever see, training car salesmen, so I was used to that sort of work, so it’s a circular job thing now.
Fox News: How was it shooting at the iconic warehouse?
Campbell: Well, open any crate, and you would be astounded… The Smithsonian has a lot of amazing stuff, but I actually don’t think it’s as amazing as the weird stuff in that warehouse. From the outside, you’d go right past it, but I think that’s the trick. On the inside, it’s a little Indiana Jones-like. I mean, the place is enormous.
Fox News: In your opinion, is Hollywood getting better at taking on new original ideas for today’s viewers, or does it still have a long way to go?
Campbell: Hollywood has never been original. The first movie was “The Great Train Robbery,” this flickery image… Well, the second movie made was the sequel to “The Great Train Robbery.” There’s “Frankenstein,” “Son of Frankenstein,” “Bride of Frankenstein.” It’s Hollywood. They have a file drawer that’s about 30 years deep, and they just sort of keep going through that. Every once in a while, something pops up, so “Ripley’s” pulls from real things that are odd, but they’re real. That’s their shtick.
Fox News: How important is it to offer entertainment that’s also uplifting?
Campbell: I think all entertainment should help us a little bit in our life struggles, give us a little hope for the future, and that’s what the show is. That’s the takeaway. The takeaway is I can’t believe what that person with that disability did with that disability and made it a non-disability. They made it an ability.
“Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel.