'Tough' Sergeant was only acting

The Press, 9 Oct 1984

Eddie Campbell, Bill le Marquand and Phillip Gordon
Eddie Campbell (left) as Hooks, Bill le Marquand (centre) and Sledge, and Phillip Gordon as Steve Keenan, in "Inside Straight" on One at 8:30 tonight.

Eddie Campbell says that a nine-year stint with the Royal Marines gave him valuable experience for his new career as an actor.

"When I was a sergeant I had to put on an act, you know, play the standard tough Marine sergeant I had to pretend to be terribly butch and tough, when really I wasn't like that at all.

"Being in the Marines also gives you vast experience of life, people and places."

Originally from Scotland, Campbell joined the Marines when he was in his early 20s. He had been bored working in a bar, had seen lots of adventure films and wanted excitement.

Stationed in Malta in 1974, he joined the amateur dramatic group, the first time in his life he had even thought about acting.

"Drink is really cheap in Malta and after sitting in the bar every night for two months I just thought,. 'Sod this, I'm going to broaden my horizons.'

"I got the expected abuse about being a 'poof' and all. You're not allowed to be artistic and sensitive in the Marines. But I got hooked on acting. It was funny. It had just never occurred to me that it was something I could do before."

In 1982 - his engagement with the Marines over and now romantically involved with a New Zealand woman - Campbell came to New Zealand, liked what he saw and decided to stay.

He took the first job he could, "digging ditches," and began doing some amateur acting in Christchurch.

After "a lot of encouragement from various people" he did an audition at the Court Theatre and, by the beginning of 1983, his career as a professional actor had begun.

He appeared in two plays at the Court, and then two at Fortune Theatre in Dunedin, before going to Wellington looking for work and deciding to settle there. He appeared in Triple Treat at Downstage Theatre and played an escaped convict, Alan Watkins, in an episode of "Country GP (1984-85)" and a nasty thug, Hooks, in tonight's "Inside Straight (1984)." Most recently, he was the psychotic, John, in Gilly Fraser's "I Can Give You A Good Time" at Circa Theatre.

Campbell's roles in New Zealand so far have tended to be as baddies. "I don't know exactly why, perhaps baldness equates with evil, or maybe Its the Scottishness."

He says that he does Dot really mind the typecasting - "I'd rather be doing something than nothing."

However, he is currently appearing in Downstage's production of "The Pohutakawa Tree" as "a very sweet 72-year-old Scottish doctor."

Campbell says that New Zealand is full of opportunities for him as an actor. If be had stayed in Britain he would not have been able to become' a professional actor.

"It's very hard there. You have to have been to a proper drama school and everything. You couldn't just turn around at 35, like I've done, and say, 'I'm going to be a professional actor."

In "Inside Straight" tonight, Steve tries to win $5000 in a high-stakes card game. But trouble strikes, especially for Sylvia, when a con-man, Nick Wilde, hits the city.

Written by Keith Aberdein, directed by Tony Wilson and produced by Peter Muxlow, "Inside Straight" will be screened on One at 8.30 tonight

Between the Lines (1987)
Inside Straight (1984)
Married (1992)