Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Star Struck?

While catching up with Terry recently, I was suddenly reminded of my brief forray into the world of star worship. A couple of years ago, I attended the premiere of Bruce Campbell's directorial debut, The Man with the Screaming Brain, at the Screenland Theater downtown. In case you're unfamiliar with the legend that is Bruce Campbell, he's simply the most well-known and respected B-movie actor of our generation. He'll turn up in the occasional big budget Hollywood-type movie in order to pay the rent. But he's best known for co-writing and starring in the Evil Dead trilogy, as well as his portrayal of an elderly Elvis Presley in the cult horror comedy, Bubba Ho-Tep. For an even more mainstream performance, Bruce makes cameos in all three of the Spider-Man films (director, Sam Raimi, is a childhood friend of Bruce's and also responsible for the three Evil Dead films). In the first, he's the announcer at the wrestling match. In the second, he's the "snooty usher" who stops Peter from entering the theater during a play. In the third, he's a maitre d' in a restaurant (as of this writing, I have yet to see this chapter). He's also currently featured in a television ad for Old Spice, and lends his voice to the new Aqua Teen Hunger Force....Movie For Theaters.

We arrived a few hours early and the Screenland has a bar, which meant that we had had plenty to drink before the film actually began. Bruce was there, signing copies of his new book, Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way. I decided to buy a copy and stand in line to have it signed. As many of you know, I'm not one for the whole celebrity autograph game, but figured it would be an interesting moment in my life. Tony and Jimmy joined me in line. Jimmy, with a DVD copy of his own directorial debut, Ekho: Fall of an Empire, and Tony with his camera. As I stood on line, I contemplated what I would say. And I couldn't believe that, as the distance between Bruce and me shortened, I found myself to be a bit nervous.

What would I say? Then it struck me. The first Evil Dead film was a college project that took more than a couple of summers to film. As anybody who's ever seen the movie could attest, the story takes place over the course of one night. I always thought it was a bit humorous that, as one watches the film, Bruce Campbell's character, Ash, can actually be seen aging. I chuckled to myself when this occurred to me. As I approached Bruce, I handed him a copy of my book. We exchanged greetings and I waited for him to begin conversing. He, apparently, had nothing to say. So I jumped in.

"So, uh. Is it true there's going to be a sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep?" I asked.

He looked up at me.

"What's your name?"

"Mark," I replied, wondering if he was going to invite me out for a beer after the screening. Turns out he just needed to know my name so he could personalize the autograph.

"Mark, did you hear about that on the internet?"

I thought for a moment and replied, "Yeah. I think so."

"Well," he continued, "don't believe anything the internet says." He kind of smiled, but hadn't looked back up at me yet.

Hmmm. That went nowhere. Now I look like a total jackass for believing the internet. Then I remembered the observation I wanted to point out to him. Did it ever occur to him that he actually ages three years in one night in the first Evil Dead movie? I was about to find out.

"You know....I always thought it was funny how old you look at the end of Evil Dead..."

The moment the words came from my mouth I realized that I had not phrased the question as gracefully to him as I had in my head. Bruce looked up at me and closed the book. He raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"So what are you saying now? You saying I look old?"

Did I offend Bruce? No. Nobody offends Bruce. He's calling me out on my putting my foot in my mouth. That's the coolest thing that could have ever happened. By now, the rest of the crowd had overheard the exchange and a few chuckles came. I kind of laughed nervously and before I could reply he handed the book back.

"Thanks a lot, asshole," he muttered. Then he rolled his eyes.

The crowd erupted with laughter, Tony snapped a photo and I walked away with my newly-autographed book, a proud man.

So an hour or so later, we were waiting in line to get into the theater, tickets in hand. There were only two screenings and both had sold out quickly, days before. There was quite a crowd. Not only were ticket holders present, but there were even more fans who hadn't been as fortunate to snag a ticket and were hoping to buy one second hand.

A film crew came around. The interviewer was wanting to speak with "the two biggest Bruce Campbell fans here" and dared such a person to come forward. I hadn't even considered speaking up. I'm a "fan" of nobody. But the group I was with (Tony and Jimmy, along with Brandon and Brent, respectively) began to shout and stir up a commotion.

"Right here!" they hollered as I was pushed to the front.

It was then and there that I, again, noted the irony of the situation I was in. I guess if I was going to get an autograph by the most well-known unknown in show business, I might as well sing his praises too. Now, through my somewhat drunken haze, I had to muster up reasons why I loved the work of a man who was responsible for movies with titles like Alien Apocalypse and Maniac Cop 2.

So here's a portion of the interview, currently on YouTube. And, in case you're wondering, I never really met Ted Nugent. And I was going to answer the other question by telling the interviewer that "we killed an elk together and had it for dinner that night." But, well, see for yourself.


Anonymous sundance said...

Three times! I'm becoming a regular fixture in this blog. I still think that's the greatest story in the world. When you're doing the talk show circuit to promote your children's book, you need to use that story. But since you're promoting a children's book, maybe you should say Bruce Campbell called you a doody head instead of an asshole.

09 May, 2007  
Blogger mwt. said...

Bruce: That's right. Three times. Three cameos. Since we're childhood friends and all.


09 May, 2007  
Anonymous Yeff said...

I guess I never *really* heard that story. Good one though. A little bit of trivia here - the interviewer is Eric Moline, drummer of Ultimate Fakebook (now defunct). If I would have known you were going to know you were going to be interviewed by him, I would have told you to say hello.

11 May, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You never got that royalty check did you?

11 May, 2007  
Blogger Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

I knew it! I knew that was Eric Meline. More trivia for you Yeffy... Eric Meline is a former KC ComedySportz player.

11 May, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, I've never heard of a single person mentioned in this entry (or the comments), except for SpiderMan.

Maybe I need to get out of the house ... or start hanging out with Mark more.


11 May, 2007  
Blogger mwt. said...

Jeff, I remember thinking he looked familiar and then somebody telling me why. I stepped to him at the bar later on and told him I was your brother. He asked how you were doing and told me I had looked familiar to him as well. Nice guy.

Matt, you should really rent Bubba Ho-Tep. It's about Elvis Presley and an elderly black man, played by Ossie Davis, who thinks he's JFK. They live in nursing home that's fallen prey to an ancient mummy who comes out at night to suck the souls out of the elderly residents. They call him "Bubba Ho-Tep" because he's a "white trash mummy." Despite its campy description (which has always been enough to get me in the theater in the first place), it's a really good film. And Bruce shows a whole new side to his acting chops with his spot-on portrayal of The King.


13 May, 2007  

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