Evil Dead Star Bruce Campbell Shares the Comic Book Character He Nearly Played

Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell has been a beloved figure among the genre community for years, and even had brief stints in the Marvel universe thanks to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, with the actor recently detailing how he nearly scored the mantle of The Phantom for a movie back in the mid-'90s, only for Billy Zane to ultimately take the role. Campbell also noted that he wasn't necessarily disappointed with this course of events, as he realized that taking on such a well-known character came with a lot of unintended baggage that had less to do with a performance and more to do with studio politics.

"I don't operate in that rarified air of saying, 'Oh I turned Titanic down,'" Campbell shared with AL.com. "I tried to get a part in a studio movie called 'The Phantom' and Billy Zane wound up getting the part. And it was down to me and Billy, I was number two for the job, but I didn't really enjoy the process very much because it seemed more political than actually acting. It was amazing how many people you had to audition for, and you had to go up the ranks and each time it got a little more tense as you moved up. So I'm good doing these weirdo little movies."

Arguably the closest Campbell has come to finding household recognition outside of niche genre films was starring as the title character in the early '90s series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., which would have preceded his brush with The Phantom, with this reveal likely confirming why he stuck to horror and sci-fi projects in the decades since. He did, however, earn acclaim for his USA series Burn Notice, which ran for seven seasons.

Campbell and Raimi have a long history of making films together, dating back to their earliest efforts with 1981's The Evil Dead, which resulted in Campbell's appearances in the Spider-Man trilogy. While he played a different character in each of the three films, rumors at the time thought that Campbell could ultimately appear as Mysterio at some point. With Raimi helming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we can surely expect Campbell to appear, though we likely shouldn't anticipate that he'll play a major costumed character.

"Big blockbuster movies, whenever I see an actor get cast in one of those, I wince, because I go, 'Oh, that poor son of a bitch is going to be in that suit for 10 years,'" Campbell shared with ComicBook.com back in 2018. "If shooting schedule's seven months of shooting, you get your one month in the Bahamas, and then you're promoting for three months, then you go right back to the next sequel, back in that same f-cking suit.'"

He added, "You're looking at tennis balls on sticks. So, that process is actually not for me, even though Ash vs. Evil Dead was all that. It was all marks on walls, tennis balls on sticks, the monster's going to be here, noise over here, you know, that sort of stuff, it's a different type of acting, and modern day actors are learning new technical skills that the old-timey actors didn't have to learn. Acting with nothing. That's what they're doing now. Castle's not even there. 'Oh, we're going to put a great castle behind you. It's not there now, but it's going to be amazing.'"

Stay tuned for details on Campbell's future projects.


Do you wish we could have gotten Campbell as The Phantom? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!