Spotlight On Allen Campbell





EF - How would you compare or contrast yourself with Joe Gillis?

AC - I think I can be a little lazy. I think Joe Gillis in some ways is a little lazy. He takes the easy way out. I think that anyone who spends ten minutes in Hollywood gets a little cynicism. He takes the easy way out. Anyone in show business becomes somewhat of a cynic. It is easy to become disenchanted at times. Some people choose to get out of show business. I remember talking to Glenn. She said how she wanted to move to Wyoming and buy a ranch. This is somebody who works quite a bit and is celebrated.

EF - How would you describe Joe Gillis's relationship with Norma? Many Sunset fans have their own opinion. What is yours?

AC - A lot of people ask does he love her, does he use her? I think the thing that Joe Gillis loves about Norma Desmond is that she has not given up. He has in a sense. I think there is something wonderful about saying I will not make a talkie, I'm leaving and walk off a sound stage and then living in this delusional world that she created. She has not sold out. Joe Gillis has. Is he in love with her? No. I think he is a user. Betty Schaeffer sees the potential Joe has as a writer. He's been in Hollywood long enough to see that no one wants the kind of material he writes. That is where his cynicism comes in. There was a real magnet between Joe Gillis and Norma Desmond especially when he was watching her bury the monkey. It grew in time. She started to care a great deal for him. Joe realizes at some point that he has become responsible for her happiness. This shows when he reacts to Norma's suicide attempt. He and Max have become responsible for maintaining this fantasy world. When they go to Paramount and she asks if he will go along and he says no, he in a way knows what is going to happen. He knows the script is no good. He has helped to prop up this deception. Max has become a master at this. Max, in my opinion, is the best written role in the show. He is a puppeteer. He has continued to direct her life, this whole sham. Max loved her. He worshipped her. Joe also wonders how Norma exists in this town. He gets pulled in. In a town that doesn't need him, she does. He brings life back into the mansion.

EF - What do you think would have happened if Joe had never met Norma? What would have happened to Joe?

AC - He would have gone back. He was ready to go back. They would have taken his car and he would have gone back.

EF - You have played opposite some very talented actresses who each portray Norma in their own unique way. How did your performance change with each one?

AC - I think you play off each actress. Betty (Buckley) needed to feel that Joe really loved her. She needed that to motivate her performance. Betty didn't think of Norma Desmond as a monster but more of a victim. I had to play more into the belief that he really loved her. She was probably the most challenging because I had to be two faced. She wanted Joe to adore her. Only when she looked away, did he become more disenchanted. I think Glenn and Elaine were more autonomous. They saw the character as seeing what she wants to see. The character was so delusional.

EF - I loved each one of the actresses who portrayed Norma but was intrigued with Elaine. She brought the lightest Norma there was. She brought a sense of humor into it. I loved that added dimension.

AC - I think that was the next way to go after Glenn and Betty's performances. Elaine made a choice to make Norma a little lighter. I think because of that choice, people understood why Joe Gills could not only be intrigued but fall for this attractive older woman.

EF - Do you have a preferred way Norma was portrayed?

AC - I liked them all. I have been asked this so many times. I have never been able to make a judgment on that. I have fond memories working with all three women. I was glad to change each time.

EF - Now, what about the Tony Awards? How were you feeling? I can't even imagine what was going through your head as the names were being mentioned.

AC - The most exciting time was when I got the notification. It was something I really wanted. I thought the show really deserved it. I had no pretense that I would win. In fact, the night of the awards, I jotted a few things I would say in the off chance it would happen. I really believed that Matthew Broderick would win. He carried that show (How to Succeed) and was the headliner. I knew that Sunset Boulevard was so star driven and so much of the focus was on Norma Desmond that I thought Glenn would win. I was pleasantly surprised with George (Hearn) winning.


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