A theory has been formulating in my head for a long time now. Every time Nathan Fillion pops up in a film or on the TV, I can’t help but think of similarities to Bruce Campbell.
No one should take this as an insult, since Nathan Fillion has become more mainstream than Campbell and has clocked up over 500,000 followers on his personal Twitter page. Yet for me, his career choices and his dedication to his fan mirror that of Bruce.
This is a good thing, given that Mr Campbell is a legend and all-round cult icon, as is the mighty Mr Fillion. Thus, I figured I should explain my theory in a little more detail…
Okay, let’s start with an easy one. Both Campbell and Fillion have featured in sitcoms with appearances that may have passed you by. Maybe not until the credits roll do you think, “Oh, wait. Was that him?” Well, yes it was…
Bruce features in the fourth series of Ellen as the new owner of the bookshop, Ed Billik. An interesting role for Campbell to play, he was constantly in disagreement with Ellen, so came off as more of a serious character, more the butt of a joke than the one who supplied them.
Nathan played Dr Adam Mayfair in the fourth Series of Desperate Housewives. This was a much more substantial role than Bruce’s in Ellen, to be fair, and although he has left the series, he has often noted he would love to go back.
The Softer Side
Both men also have their warm hearted and tender sides, which have been on display in the movies. Just take a look at these examples:
Bruce voiced a character for the terrific animated film Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in 2009 playing Mayor Shelbourne. And just look at that smile on his face, too. Bless him.
In 2007, Fillion starred in the late Adrienne Shelly‘s hugely underappreciated movie Waitress as Dr Jim Pomatter, a loveable doctor who gets caught up in an affair with a pregnant local woman. It’s not a film we plug enough on this site, incidentally, and it’s one that really deserves a wider audience.
Where to begin? The man is constantly appearing in random B-movie horror films and even spoofs them. In the 2007 film My Name Is Bruce, Campbell is mistaken for his character of Ash from The Evil Dead and made to fight a real demon. In the film, Bruce is filming a sequel to the filmCave Alien a nod to the B-movie, Alien Apocalypse, he did in 2005.
One of his best has to be Bubba Ho-Tep, where Campbell plays Elvis Presley living in a retirement home with John F. Kennedy, who has had his skin dyed black by the government. Together they must defeat an evil mummy that has come to life to suck out their souls.
In 2006, Nathan starred in the horror comedy Slither, written and directed my James Gunn. The film has a cult following that grows each year, and rightly so. It’s an homage to horror films like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers with a good dose of tongue in cheek humour that never takes itself too seriously. It’s also a role that you can’t help but think Mr Campbell may have taken himself, were he offered it.
Both actors are iconic horror/science fiction stars, with no small amount of love for them coming from this very site.
Bruce Campbell is, of course, the one and only Ash from The Evil Dead. Directed by Sam Raimi in 1981, Evil Dead has been one of the most influential horror films ever made, and the iconic character of Ash has been Campbell’s biggest and most celebrated turn. Campbell is affiliated with this role more than any in his career, and hopefully, if the planets align, is set to reprise the role one more time for Evil Dead 4 (although it’s been a project rumoured for so long, we fear we may never see it).
The fantastic science fiction series from Joss Whedon, Firefly, saw Fillion don some extremely tight pants to become Captain Mal. It became – and remains – one of the greatest tragedies to TV sets everywhere when it was cancelled after one series, but they came back for the feature film Serenity. In spite of the love aimed at that film, though, a sequel has never been forthcoming.
Still, the iconic Mal has brought in Fillion’s biggest fan base and is a character people immediately identify him with.
Let’s not forget too that both men are on hit shows on a TV near you:
Bruce is on the hit US show, Burn Notice. He plays Sam Axe, a former Navy Seal and old friend of lead character, Michael Westen. The character is full of Campbell charm. Constantly surrounded by women and drink, he claims to be “the guy who knows a guy”. He has had praise for the role and the series has been a great success, with six seasons of the series planned, even though it’s only in the middle of its fourth.
Nathan is currently playing lead character Richard Castle in the fantastic drama series Castle. He plays a crime novelist who teams up with a detective from the NYPD to help cure his writer’s block and help solve some murders along the way.
Apart from both Fillion and Campbell making similar role choices, the two have a notorious sense of humour that has landed them their respective fan bases. Fillion has starred in the fantastic Internet series Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog with Neil Patrick Harris, showing off his musical skills to boot. Campbell, meanwhile, has penned a highly humorous biography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions Of A B Movie Actor.
Maybe I’m clutching at straws here. But heck, look at their chins! They’re both pretty prominent. Case closed, surely…?