Not everyone can say the horror comedy is for them, but if you’re watching Evil Dead, every Bruce Campbell role should follow. The sequels like Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness may seem obvious to see more of Campbell as Ash Williams, but Campbell has much more range. From a swashbuckling spy to an off-kilter Elvis impersonator, to even himself, Campbell has proven that there is no role that he can’t put his trademark charm on. Even his cameos are to be remembered – they are just as iconic.
Each role demands some physicality to the characters only Campbell can bring. They can all be charming and hilarious and provide a heart of gold. So while Campbell may not be fighting undead creatures from a demon realm, these roles are perfect to show his range, even if some of them do call back to his Evil Dead days.
Updated on April 12, by Jessie Nguyen:
Even though Bruce Campbell won’t reprise his role as the iconic Ash Williams in the upcoming Evil Dead Rise (premiering on April 21), he will still return as the movie’s producer. Also, despite Campbell’s reputation for sticking to the Evil Dead series, his range is apparent, evident in numerous of his past projects which fans should look into while waiting for the next installment of the franchise to drop.
12 ‘Black Friday’ (2021)
What’s more interesting than seeing Campbell as a vigilante leading a group of misfits battling aliens? Black Friday follows unhappy toy store employees who reluctantly show up for work on Thanksgiving night to open the business at midnight for the busiest shopping day of the year to find themselves up against hordes of holiday shoppers who have been transformed into monsters and are hell-bent on a deadly spree on Black Friday.
Greatly combining entertaining visual jokes with blood and gore, Black Friday can easily be one of the most entertaining zombie-like horror comedy films. Moreover, Campbell displays his range in this movie by showcasing both his comic and fierce leader personas, along with his resonant and authoritative voice.
Watch on Apple TV+
11 ‘My Name is Bruce’ (2007)
Who better to play Bruce Campbell than Bruce Campbell himself? Evil Dead left a mark on Campbell’s life as Ash Williams, so much so that everyone mistakes him for Ash. In My Name is Bruce, that mistake goes to another level when Bruce himself has to fight a monster and save the day. Similar to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Campbell makes a parody of himself but maintains the same humor and physical comedy he is known for.
Fortunately, no one will ever again mistake Bruce Campbell for Ash Williams after this film. My Name is Bruce showed just how similar but very different they are. Further, it proves that the actor is not their character at all.
10 ‘Sky High’ (2005)
If Evil Dead was too gory, Sky High is a quick turnaround from that. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the son of the most powerful superhero family in the world – but he has no powers. He enrolls in Sky High, a school for super-powered teenagers in a world full of heroes. As he enters school, he comes across a cast of strange characters, such as a shapeshifter, a plant manipulator, and a human boombox.
As Coach Boomer, Campbell plays a minor role but is big enough to cause trouble for Will and his friends. Coach Boomer possesses the power to release powerful sonic waves from his vocal cords. This makes the absurdity of gym drills so much worse, and yet Campbell brings comedy and heart like usual.
Watch on Disney+
9 ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ & ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ (1995 – 2001)
With the same team as Jack of All Trades, Campbell starred as Autolycus, King of Thieves, in the underrated fantasy television series Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Like Jack Stiles, Autolycus was dashing and funny, often teasing Xena in certain situations. Autolycus was true to his code of not killing anyone and only had one exception. This was an easy transition for Bruce Campbell, the only addition being a goatee to his typical chiseled look.
Like Ash, Autolycus was a fighter, adventurer, and comedian simultaneously. He was often shoved around by Xena for his forward manner with her. Campbell’s trademark of physical humor does not go unnoticed in his performance in these series.
Watch on DirecTV
8 ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ (2022)
Pizza Poppa was the best latest addition to the MCU. As a street vendor, he helped America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) realize that capitalism exists in other universes and nothing is free. As a man possessed to beat himself up, Bruce Campbell showed that he could still be a master of aggressive slapstick comedy. With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Campbell revealed that he is still one of the best trademarks of a Sam Raimi film.
While he only had a short appearance, Campbell was still unforgettable as Pizza Poppa. Although Ash is thrown into a strange situation and has to deal with it, Pizza Poppa brings the absurd to Marvel. Hopefully, this is not the last fans see of the Pizza Poppa.
Watch on Disney+
7 ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep is the perfect horror comedy to follow up with after Evil Dead. Starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis – or maybe just a deluded Elvis impersonator. The premise is just as strange as the Evil Dead series, if not even more bizarre. With an ancient mummy coming to life and wreaking havoc on earth, Elvis has to figure out how to best defeat the mummy and put the souls it ate to rest. Unfortunately, there is no sequel or prequel, despite talk of it for years.
Elvis has become an iconic role for Campbell after Evil Dead, with Bubba Ho-Tep becoming a cult classic after its release. Yet again, Campbell left a mark in the horror comedy genre that would carry him throughout the later years of his career.
Watch on Apple TV+
6 ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ (2009)
Mayor Shelbourne of Swallow Falls must have been Campbell’s most unexpected role in an animated feature. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs follows an aspiring inventor named Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) who, after countless unsuccessful experiments, eventually creates a device that turns water into food. However, when the machine malfunctions and produces food storms, Flint and his friends must stop it.
His booming and croaky voice doesn’t seem to fit his diminutive frame in the film, which is revealed to be full of malice and meanness. Nonetheless, his performance is so engaging and well-rounded that he often overshadows the protagonist and becomes a very essential part of the movie.
Watch on Prime Video
5 ‘Spider-Man’ Trilogy (2002 – 2007)
In the original Spider-Man trilogy, Campbell played several small roles that left a big impact. As the ring announcer, Campbell brought humor to a scene that could have quickly turned dramatic. In the next Spider-Man roles, he managed to continue to break the ice in very tense situations.
Both situations were when Peter (Tobey Maguire) needed to get to MJ (Kirsten Dunst), and Bruce Campbell’s memorable characters were always there to be some sort of barrier. His appearance seems ridiculous, but it is a nice treat for anyone who is a fan of Sam Raimi and doing a Spider-Man marathon.
Watch on Apple TV+
4 ‘Jack of All Trades’ (2000)
Imagine James Bond in the early 19th-century fighting to ease tensions between countries with a beautiful female companion by his side. Bruce Campbell played the exact same character in Jack of All Trades. Campbell’s Jack Stiles is an American secret agent sent to Pulau-Pulau island to stop Napoleon. With Emilia Rothschild (Angela Dotchin), an English spy, the pair work hard to ensure that tensions between America, England, and France do not get any worse.
Jack Stiles allowed Bruce Campbell to play the original swashbuckler with a Casanova twist. The chemistry between Campbell and Dotchin is enough to make anyone want to binge this series from 2000.
3 ‘Burn Notice’ (2007 – 2013)
Bruce Campbell had a prominent role in Burn Notice as Michael Westen’s (Jeffrey Donovan) slacker best friend. Forced to be an informant after years of being a spy, Sam ensures that Michael has all he needs to complete the mission. He not only provides Michael with intel but also ensures that he is on the right path and often acts as the show’s moral compass—even if he himself doesn’t have one.
Sam Axe is a heavy drinker and often looks for a new place to stay. Bruce Campbell was the perfect casting choice for Sam Axe. With Sam’s laid-back nature and ability to keep Michael on the right path, Burn Notice needed someone full of heart but not afraid to be silly at the same time.
Watch on Hulu
2 ‘The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.’ (1993 – 1994)
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. marries the time period aspect of Jack of All Trades along with the absurd supernatural of Evil Dead. Set in the Old West, this series takes Brisco County Jr., a lawyer turned bounty hunter, on a mission to capture John Bly, an outlaw. Including elements of steampunk, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. take this bounty hunter on missions he was not expecting.
Placing Bruce Campbell in a Western-type environment was a no-brainer. Brisco County Jr. is someone who can handle the action, be analytical and also break the tension of the West occasionally. This series did “strange small town” before Eureka did, but Bruce Campbell is original in his performance.
Watch on Apple TV+
1 ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ (2015 – 2018)
What better to start the Bruce Campbell binge than with the sequel series, Ash vs Evil Dead? Set after the events of Army of Darkness, Ash still finds himself embroiled in issues involving Deadites and the Necronomicon. Even though it is 30 years after the film series, Ash vs Evil Dead sets Ash on a path of maturity, given he is the only one who can save the world. With three seasons worth of new Evil Dead content, this series is the perfect follow-up to the film.
Both Ash and Campbell matured over the years, making way for this series to show how time can change a person – and leave them exactly the same. If Campbell’s performance was not the reason to watch Evil Dead, then expect this series to have the same amount of camp and gore but with a higher budget.
Watch on Netflix
NEXT: All of the Evil Dead Movies and Series, Ranked According to Rotten Tomatoes