How Sam Raimi Snuck Bruce Campbell Into Darkman's Cast

Sam Raimi's career spans a wide array of genres, from the horror-comedy cult classic "The Evil Dead" and its subsequent sequels to well regarded films like "A Simple Plan" and the "Spider-Man" comic book trilogy that made him a household name.  While he's tackled some wildly different material over the years, one mainstay of his career is a long history of collaboration with B-movie legend Bruce Campbell. Their long partnership goes back to Raimi's directorial debut "It's Murder!," and it was cemented in the "Evil Dead" trilogy with Campbell's leading turn as chief Deadite foe Ash Williams. If there's a new Raimi outing, there's a pretty good chance Campbell's somewhere in it, even if it's just a cameo).

The horror-influenced independent superhero film "Darkman," which Raimi directed over a decade before "Spider-Man," is no exception. The film sees Liam Neeson portray scientist Peyton Westlake, who is attacked, burnt with acid, and left for dead. Westlake's life is saved via an experimental scientific process, and with artificial skin, he is able to shift his appearance and get revenge on his attackers. In the process, the scientist takes on a variety of disguises in his quest for vengeance, leaving Raimi what is basically a blank check as for cameo potential. In a new retrospective on the legacy of "Darkman," Bruce Campbell reveals how he was stealthily added into the film, and not just in a closing cameo.

Bruce Campbell was literally the new Liam Neeson

Campbell reveals that, while he didn't get the Darkman part himself, Raimi did find a cheeky way to technically make the actor Darkman in a pivotal moment. In the scene, Neeson laments his transformation to love interest Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand) before donning one final disguise and fleeing into the crowd. He takes one final look back... and it's Bruce Campbell as Darkman's final form (at least until the sequel). As Campbell tells it:

"We had made Evil Dead 2 just before that, and I was not enough of a [acting] commodity for Universal. But Liam Neeson at the time, he did a couple of well-known things in Europe, but I don't think people could have picked him out of a police lineup here. Sam threw me the bone and said, 'Why don't you be the final [in disguise] Darkman.' So, I am Darkman, technically. (laughs)."

In a prior interview for the Irish Film Institute, Campbell also recalls dubbing one of Neeson's Darkman lines in Campbell's (uncredited) time in the film's sound department. He recalls being asked to yell "Julie!" in one particular scene, as well as performing dubbed lines for the censored "Darkman" version intended for the U.S. television broadcast. Campbell explained:

"They knew that I did some of his voices, so I came in and did the television... I did the television version, where you can't swear in American television. So it was... "Oh God no!" became 'No Lord, no, please. Oh Lord, no.'"

Although the voice performance and the disguised visage were done for different purposes and totally separate from his cameo, between the two contributions, we can now say that, from a completely technical standpoint, Bruce Campbell was Darkman in Sam Raimi's early 1990 superhero outing.