Make Love the Bruce Campbell Wayby Bruce Campbell, Craig Kif Sanborn, Craig Sanborn
What you're reading right now is known as the “flap copy.” This is where the 72,444 words of my latest book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, are cooked down to fit in a 3 ½-by-9 ½-inch column. But how does one do that with a fictional story about a B movie actor’s disastrous attempt to finally star in a big-budget Hollywood/i>… See more details below
What you're reading right now is known as the “flap copy.” This is where the 72,444 words of my latest book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, are cooked down to fit in a 3 ½-by-9 ½-inch column. But how does one do that with a fictional story about a B movie actor’s disastrous attempt to finally star in a big-budget Hollywood movie? Do you tantalize readers with snappy zingers like the one in chapter six where Biff the Wonder Boy says, “You may be bred in ol’ Kentucky, but you're only a crumb up here”? Or do you reveal pivotal plot points like the one at the end of the book where the little girl on crutches points an accusing finger and shouts, “The killer is Mr. Potter!”
I have too much respect for you as an attention-deficient consumer to attempt such an obvious ruse. But let’s not play games here. You’ve already picked up the book, so you either:
A. Know who I am
B. Like the cool smoking jacket I’m wearing on the cover
C. Have just discovered that the bookstore restroom is out of toilet paper
Is this a relationship book? Well, if by “relationship book” you mean that the characters in it have relationships or are related to someone, then yes, absolutely. Will you learn how to pick up chicks? Good heavens, I can only hope so, though for best results in that department you should both read this book and be Brad Pitt.
Is it a sequel to my autobiography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor? Sadly, no, which made it much harder to write. According to my publisher, I haven't “done” enough since 2001 to warrant another memoir.
Is it an “autobiographical novel”? Yes. I'm the lead character in the story and I'm a real person and everything in the book actually happened, except for all the stuff that didn’t.
Mostly, the action revolves around my preparations for a pivotal role in director Mike Nichols’s A-list relationship film Let's Make Love!, starring Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, and Christopher Plummer. This is the kind of break most actors can only dream of. But my Homeric attempt to break through the glass ceiling of B-grade genre fare is hampered by a vengeful studio executive and a production that becomes infected by something called the “B movie virus,” symptoms of which include excessive use of cheesy special effects, slapstick, and projectile vomiting.
When someone fingers me as the guy responsible for the virus, thus ruining my good standing in the entertainment industry (hey, I said it was fiction, okay?), I become a fugitive racing against the clock, an innocent patsy battling the shadowy forces of the studio system to clear my name, save my career, and destroy the Death Star. In a jaw-dropping twist worthy of Hitchcock (page 274), you'll gasp as I turn the tables on Hollywood and attempt to salvage my reputation in a town where you’re only as good as your last remake.
From a violent fistfight with a Buddhist to a life-altering stint in federal prison, this novel has it all. If you like John Grisham, Tom Clancy, or one too many run-on sentences, you'll absolutely love Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. And if the 72,444 words are too time-consuming, there are lots and lots of cool graphics.
Bruce “Don't Call Me Ash” Campbell
Bruce Campbell's first book, If Chins Could Kill, was a major sleeper hit and became a New York Times and national bestseller. His immense energy and sharp wit are in evidence again in Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, a novel that will have readers laughing out loud.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.38(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.06(d)
Read an Excerpt
Make Love!â"The Bruce Campbell Way
By Bruce Campbell
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2006 Bruce Campbell
All rights reserved.
Let's Make Love!
I read the e-mail out loud and wrinkled my nose when I got to the "another book of this type" part. "What kind of horseshit is that?" I wondered aloud.
I dialed Barry's office in New York, stabbing at the numbers on my phone.
Pat, Barry's loyal secretary, answered: "Barry Neville's office."
"Pat, how the heck are you? This is Bruce Campbell."
"Oh, hello, Bruce, I'll see if Barry is in."
That's one of my favorite phrases in the "get past the secretary" game: "I'll see if he's in." Pat knew whether Barry was in or not — he was only twelve feet away in his ten-by-ten cubicle. I was expecting to hear "he just slipped out," or maybe "he's tied up in a conference call," but suddenly, she jumped back on the line.
"I'll put you right through, Bruce."
Getting an editor on the line first try made me instantly suspicious — that meant Barry had either good news ...or the opposite.
"Hello, Bruce," Barry said, sounding reasonably happy to hear from me.
I decided to get right into it. Okay, so you don't want to do the book."
"Well, no," Barry replied. "We kicked it around, but we couldn't make it work."
"I understand that, but what's with 'another book of this type'? You told me that travel books were hot stuff."
"That's true, but I said they could be — if they were done right."
"And what's so wrong with Walk This Way?"
"I guess, yeah."
"This book made me feel like I was walking."
"Good. You felt in the moment — what's wrong with that?"
"I'm referring to the pace," Barry clarified. "It made me tired."
"And how many suburban walks can a person take? I know you were filming on location a lot, but I'm not so sure a book about the routes you took to keep from being bored would be a big seller. Call me crazy."
"Okay, you're crazy."
"Look, Bruce, I hope I am. As your friend, I hope you go and sell a million copies. We've been wrong before. But look, this doesn't have to end here. I want to pitch a book to you. I think you're a great match for the material."
"What is it?"
"A relationship book."
The intensity of my laugh startled Barry, but he pressed on.
"I'm serious. I can get that book approved," he assured me.
"Well, yeah, but, wow, that's a whole new deal."
"Relationship books are huge. If you win with one of these, you win big."
"I dunno," I hemmed. "I'd have to think about that and call you back — I'd have to see if I could get my head around it."
"Okay, sure, I understand. Take your time. The offer stands."
As I hung up, I pitied Barry. Poor bastard. My editor still remembered me from the TV show The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., where I successfully managed a new girlfriend almost every week. He couldn't shake the images of my character Ash from the film Army of Darkness, where I coolly manhandle my leading lady with lines like, "Gimme some sugar, baby."
He'd seen me up close and personal with some damn sexy women, the likes of Vanessa Angel, Alyssa Milano, and Elizabeth Hurley, so in the world according to Barry, I was the living embodiment of a chick magnet — the perfect choice to write a relationship book. Barry is a nice guy, but he's also a fool. What he fails to realize is that the Bruce Campbell who romanced his way through a succession of beautiful leading women bears no resemblance to the Bruce Campbell who forgets anniversaries and hoards Victoria's Secret catalogs. In the real world, none of what he sees on the silver screen relates to me, the actor — or any actor, for that matter.
Let me walk you through a few of the key differences. For starters, love scenes are never the result of an actor's romantic prowess, or insistence. These are obligatory elements of any cinematic romance story, and actors in leading roles are often confronted with them. In reality, shooting a love scene is about as exciting as groping my sister — and thankfully, I don't have one.
Actors don't make up all that clever dialogue. I'll throw in a quip or two, sure, but I'm mainly hired to say words that are written for me. And when it comes to scenes about relationships, I'm happy to have the help of a clever writer who is, at the end of the day, manipulating a given situation into how it could play out, not necessarily how it would.
As an actor, I don't have any say in how the relationship will go, or even who my romantic partner will be. The writer has determined my on-screen fate far in advance — and that's a really scary thought, because the only people who have worse relationships than actors are writers, because they spend most of their time alone, never talking to anyone, staring at a computer screen.
Hollywood is successful at portraying relationships because it manages to bring our fantasies to life; it presents a "what if world in which we can lose ourselves for a few hours. In movies, when it comes to men and women, everything happens at the speed of light. Couples fall in love at first glance. Later, during sex (which happens on the first date), men get instant erections and can make love for hours. Women achieve orgasm in record time, some going for three in a row. The sex will always be good, and it must always be in some imaginative place, like a freight elevator or a nuclear submarine. Poor Barry, I can see why he was so confused — like all of us, he had been brainwashed for years.
Aside from all that, what the hell does a guy who lost his virginity at age twenty-three know about the opposite sex? Jack shit, that's what. When it comes to women, I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground. I learned about sex through the mass marketing of the early 1960s, when Fred Flintstone was doing cigarette ads and products like Space Food sticks, Tang, and leaded gasoline were the order of the day. Sex back then meant sleeping in separate beds, closed mouth kissing, wearing PJs to bed (even adults), and no sex before marriage. No wonder I had such a bogus view of the world.
As my "female awareness" sprang to life in the late sixties, the sexy babes on television at that time were Anita Bryant, a conservative singer selling orange juice; Julie Newmar, who played Cat Woman in the TV show Batman; and Marta Kristen, the teenage daughter on Lost in Space. I didn't know right from left, but I can tell you this: it wasn't the intricate plots, or the acting that held my attention, it was the way these foxy women filled out their skin-tight costumes week after week.
Women didn't seem like people who had sex; they just wore lots of makeup and smelled funny. Sears catalogues, and later my dad's Playboys, helped straighten a few things out, but there were more questions than answers.
Motion pictures often wind up being an early, vital source of insight into the sexual dynamics between men and women. The problem was, I couldn't get into any movie that might have been of use to me (the cursed M rating, for Mature Audiences Only) so my model for intergender relationships came primarily from John Wayne westerns between 1962 and 1973. My mother was a huge western fan, and since my father couldn't have cared less, she'd drag me along instead.
Given my prolonged exposure to the bizarre, archetypal behavior of cowboys, I shouldn't have been surprised by an incident on the playground when I was nine. I "rescued" a girl who was being harassed by a bully (a cattle rustler, as I saw it) by socking him once in the jaw (that's all Duke ever needed) and down he went. I grabbed the girl (the feed store owner's daughter, Sue), whipped her around, and kissed her but good — closed mouthed, because we did such things proper then. To my shock and horror, Sally Sue Jenkins slapped me across the face.
"Get out of here, you weirdo. My brother was just trying to give me lunch money...."
"Sorry, ma'am," I said, nodding. "Didn't mean to cause no fuss."
Dating? I was too busy making amateur films in high school to take advantage of those prime years. Relationships? That's a good one. The "relationships" in my civilian life can be counted on one hand, minus the use of my thumb. Don't come knocking here, brother, I married the first woman who ever came on to me. The weight of hypocrisy would be too much to bear if I wrote a book about a subject on which I was essentially retarded.
The phone rang.
"Hi, it's Barry."
"Dude, c'mon, I don't have an answer for you yet."
"What are you talking about? I haven't called you in a month."
"Who is this?" I asked.
"This is the other Barry. Your acting agent."
"Oh, that Barry. Hi, what's up?"
"I have a possible gig for you."
"Let me guess — something for the Sci-Fi Channel?"
"A convention in Butt Crack, Kansas?"
"Nope," Barry said with a smile in his voice. "A romantic comedy."
"Get out of town."
"It's a green-lit, A-list romantic comedy starring Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, produced by Robert Evans, directed by Mike Nichols — shooting in New York in the fall."
"Don't mess with me, Barry. I'm going through some shit right now."
"Bruce, I'm not that kind of a guy," he assured me.
"So, I would play the what, chauffeur? Bus boy?"
"The wise-cracking doorman — he's like the comic muse to Gere. It's the best role in the film. He tells jokes, he gives advice on relationships. You get the idea."
"What's it called?"
"Let's Make Love!"
It sounded good — too good, as they say. "Do I have to audition?"
"Well, yes, unfortunately. I sent them your demo reel, but they still need you to read in New York. But as a little FYI, Mike asked for you specifically."
"Bullshit," I shot back immediately. "Mike Nichols doesn't even know I exist, and his casting people sure as hell don't."
"Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Bruce. I'm just passing the information along so you can make an informed decision."
I sighed loudly. "Barry, you know how much I hate auditions. In twenty-five years I've gotten exactly three acting jobs from auditioning, and I must have had, what, a hundred of them?"
"Two hundred and nine," Barry corrected.
"You keep track of things like that?" I asked, incredulous.
"Yeah, the head of the agency likes charts and graphs."
"What a dismal record."
"That aside, this is a great opportunity, Bruce. Movies don't get any bigger, or better than this."
I glanced in my Frequent Flyer file — America West was looking good for a free ticket. "What the hell ... set it up."
I hung up and stared at the phone. This would be a worthless cause, but at least it was a chance to meet Mike Nichols, a truly big shot director.
* * *
New York City in May was beautiful — trees were starting to bloom, the sky was a freshly laundered blue, and aside from the stench of decomposing trash, I felt positively invigorated. I walked with a spring in my step all the way up West 26th Street, to an old brownstone where Mike Nichols keeps his office.
The first thing an actor does at an audition is sign in. I always take my time with the sign-in sheet, because it's a chance to see the competition. The list tells me who else is or was there, what time, for what role, and who represents them.
The sign-in list for Let's Make Love! made my jaw drop: Bill Campbell, for starters, a namesake nemesis if there ever was one, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Liam Neeson, Chevy Chase, and on, and on.
Everyone on the goddamn planet is auditioning for this role. What am I doing here?
I scanned the room and my hopes were further dashed: Gary Sinise was sitting next to John Malkovich, who was telling a bawdy joke to John Cusack, who was trying to study his lines.
I was seriously considering feigning a strange illness and making an early departure, when I became drawn into what I feared most at auditions: a conversation.
"So, we meet again."
The husky voice belonged to tough-guy actor Robert Patrick, who stiffed me out of an X-Files role.
"Yeah, I guess so," I said. "You won the last round."
Robert smiled confidently. "I did, didn't I? Good gig, that X-Files."
"Yeah, but long hours, I'm sure," I managed, trying to make it sound like I didn't want the part anyway.
"The pain goes away on payday," he said, smiling. "Hey, you been working much?"
The issue of employment is always an Achilles heel for an actor who hasn't worked in a long time, and Robert wasted no time in going for it.
"Well, not really," I admitted.
Robert raised his eyebrows and whistled silently to himself — the "Oh, I see" expression.
"I was writing for a while," I tried to clarify. "So, then I did a couple conventions, and then...." I stopped myself before it got embarrassing. There wasn't anything to brag about in the conventional sense. I knew it, and now he knew it too.
"Hell, I wish I had your problem sometimes," Robert said, possibly trying to make me feel better. "I can barely get back to my Montana ranch, I work so much. I may have to sell it and move to the Palisades."
I smiled and excused myself, feeling a sudden need to use the bathroom. During tense audition situations, the only sanctuary is the men's toilet. Under the right conditions, I can kill an hour or more, reading stall graffiti and making sure my hair is just right. It's a great place to gather yourself, get centered, and have one last frantic look at your lines.
Once inside the tile-and-porcelain sanctuary, I gave myself a pep talk. Okay, chump, you're here, get over it. Do your thing and move on. Enjoy the moment.
As I stepped back into the waiting room full of famous actors, my name was being called.
I followed the secretary down a long hallway and wiped the sweat from the palm of my clammy right hand one last time.
I entered the room and couldn't help but gasp. Richard Gere was there, smiling and shaking hands with an exiting Johnny Depp. As Johnny passed, he winked. "Hey man, have fun."
Have a coronary, that's what I'll have.
The secretary introduced me to Mike Nichols, a very serene man with a wicked handshake.
"Damn nice to meet you, Bruce. Been a big fan for a long time. Hey, nice turn in Icebreaker—convincing stuff."
He didn't actually see that piece of shit, did he? "Well, there's one folks don't usually mention," I said, incredulous.
"Oh, the indies are my favorite," he said, nodding. "That's all I watch, really. It's where the new ideas are."
"From your lips to God's ears, Mike."
Mike gestured to a lit area across the room. "Why don't you go on over there, Bruce, and we'll have a go at this."
"Have you met Richard?" Mike asked, nonchalant.
I turned to see Richard Gere offering his hand, and smiling.
"Hi, Bruce, loved your stuff on Xena."
I stammered a response, losing my train of thought.
"Any questions?" Mike asked.
"Yeah, actually. How 'Southern' should the guy be?"
Mike shrugged. "Why don't we just have a look at one?"
I shrugged too, having only asked the question so I wouldn't appear as terrified as I was. My Southern accent was merely passable anyway, so it was an irrelevant exchange.
"Let's do the first scene," Mike said, nodding to the video technician, who began taping.
I had prepared two scenes for the audition. This first one was snappy, back-and-forth patter between the lead character, Harry Grayson, and the doorman, Foyl Whipple. The second scene — only done if asked — was an eloquent speech from Foyl, to Harry, about true love.
The first scene began like this:
The group around Mike Nichols chuckled politely, and the scene was over. There is always an awkward moment between reading the first scene and the second scene. But before I could even get anxious about it, Mike stood up.
"Thanks, Bruce. Thanks for coming in. I think we've seen all we need to."
The words were: "Thanks for coming in. I think we've seen all we need to." The meaning was: "Thanks for wasting our time, Bruce, I think that's all we can stand."
Richard Gere offered his hand again. "That was fun, Bruce."
"That was fun": actor-speak for "that sucked ass."
Symbolism was everywhere. Richard's sincere handshake was the kind you give to someone after a death in the family. Something was dead all right — my ability to audition. Barry can now raise the "failed auditions" tally to 210. Knowing not to linger after a mediocre offering, I thanked my way out of the room and grabbed the elevator straight down.
Outside, I walked aimlessly down the street, repeating the words of the first scene verbatim, nailing the delivery each time. Actors are always at their very best on the way home.
Oh, well, I thought. At least I tried.
During the multiple flights home, I was comforted by thoughts of the long fun summer ahead — river rafting, hiking, and all-around fun in the Oregon sun. The previous winter had been a wet one, and that usually resulted in a kick-ass summer.
Excerpted from Make Love!â"The Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell. Copyright © 2006 Bruce Campbell. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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