Reflections on meeting the mighty and gracious actor Bruce Campbell

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I’ll admit it.

I’ve never seen “Evil Dead.” Or “Evil Dead 2.” Or “Army of Darkness.”

And it seems as though everyone and their grandmother has seen those movies. Our sweet, slightly sheltered editor-in-chief has even seen them. Upon hearing Bruce Campbell, the star of all three, was coming to visit Sioux Falls, she exclaimed, “Oh, the Army of Darkness guy!”

I am, however, something of an opportunist. Why, here was a semi-celebrity coming to my own backyard!

My “Evil Dead” loving friends were ecstatic about the chance to meet this man who had enlivened the movies they so enjoyed. I had only seen Campbell in “Spider-man,” “The Hudsucker Proxy” and an episode of “The X-Files.”

So, of course, I soldiered down to Sioux Falls on a grey Saturday afternoon to meet a man I knew nothing about and buy his book so he would sign it for me.

When I entered the Barnes and Noble, I found myself at the back of a HUGE crowd of (mostly) middle-aged men and college fanboys, peering over book racks into the children’s section, where Campbell was pontificating from a small stage about acting, writing and his films.

Campbell answered several general questions about breaking into Hollywood, how he chose his movies and even how to celebrate a two-year anniversary.

After the show, the store became a scene of small, quiet bands of normal customers , looking for a respite from the swarm of people in “Evil Dead” T-shirts who kept yelling obscure catchphrases at each other.

But it was still four hours later when I got to meet Campbell.

I had no idea why I had stuck around the store so long to meet someone who had no meaning to me. I am not one to get sick of Barnes and Noble, but the thought of seeing another book had me wanting to retch.

And here I was. One of the last in line, just in front of a group of social malcontents who kept hopping around, singsonging “We’re gonna meet Bruce Campbell!”

And then it was time to meet the man himself. I wondered what to call him. Bruce? Mr. Campbell? Some people behind me were going to call him Ash. I’ll bet he loves that.

And I was standing next to him, handing him my book. “Loved you in ‘The Hudsucker Proxy,'” I blurted out.

“That was a fun movie,” he commented while scrawling. “So what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a journalist. . .student at SDSU. . .actor.”

“Well, sure beats working for a living,” he added jovially.

We shook hands and exchanged “Nice to meet you”s. And I was gone.

I learned a valuable lesson from this. Being famous means being able to put up with the multitudes of people who call you by the name of your character. Being famous means putting up with the guys who just want to meet someone famous and say stupid stuff like “Loved you in ‘The Hudsucker Proxy.'” Being famous should be about being willing to meet with your fans after Barnes and Noble has closed to sign their additional memorabilia.

Campbell was generous with his time and entertaining. He has not lost sight of the fact that it is the people who have made them famous.

Would that more were like him.

Tell Todd VanDerWerff he needs to see “Evil Dead” at [email protected].