Onward Christian!: Neve's brother an up-and-comer

By STEVE TILLEY — Edmonton Sun
You’d think Christian Campbell would let out a small, weary sigh when conversation with a stranger inevitably turns to the topic of his little sister.

But the Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based actor, speaking to The Sun on the phone from Vancouver, is used to dwelling in his more famous sibling’s shadow. And he’s fine with it, too.

“Right now everybody considers me to be Neve’s brother,” said Campbell, referring, of course, to Party of Five star and Scream queen Neve Campbell.

“I’m going to be Neve’s brother for some time, and I’m used to that. It’s just a matter of me staking a claim to my own career, and saying, ‘Hey, I’m Christian Campbell.’ One day that’ll happen.”

While no less a publication than People magazine has profiled the 27-year-old Campbell as a Hollywood up-and-comer, his name is far from being a household word.

Still, his career has been on a slow, steady rise since his first pro showbiz stint in School’s Out, the TV movie spinoff of Canadiana staple Degrassi High.

This month, Campbell gets his first starring movie role in Trick, a romantic comedy about two gay men who spend an eventful night looking for a place to be alone together, thwarted by circumstance at every turn.

Trick, opening today at the Garneau Theatre, co-stars J.P. Bitoc as Campbell’s love interest and Tori Spelling (Beverly Hills 90210) as his ditzy actress friend.

While Campbell isn’t gay (he’s dating actress Erin Matthews), he said the only truly difficult part of playing a gay character was lip-locking with another guy.

“Except for my own inexperience in kissing a man or having sexual tension with a man, I think that was the only thing that was difficult about it,” he said.

“The scene that was hardest for me was in the bathroom when we don’t kiss but are about to kiss … because I think it was the first time J.P. and I had to lay on this tension that you could cut with a knife. It really shook us up.”

In addition to getting good reviews at the Sundance film festival, Trick is gaining notice for Tori Spelling’s stand-out performance as a naive, self-absorbed actress.

“She’s got amazing instincts, comically,” Campbell said. “People have been skewering her because she’s on 90210. But what the hell can you do with 90210? It’s not like you’ve got great dialogue.”

Campbell worked with Spelling’s dad, legendary producer Aaron Spelling, during his stint on the short-lived Malibu Shores. He’s also had parts in the vampire flick Cold Hearts, several TV guest appearances and a variety of stage plays.

Campbell has also been on the other side of the camera as producer of Hairshirt, in which he and Neve starred together. The siblings, who try to get together once a week for dinner, are on the lookout for new projects they can do with one another.

“We’re always looking for material,” Campbell said. “Perhaps something where we actually get to play a sibling relationship.”

Right now, Campbell’s life is too busy for much of anything, however. He’s on a whirlwind publicity tour for Trick, while still performing nightly in a stage version of the famed 1930s anti-dope movie Reefer Madness in L.A., which is scheduled to run for another two months – and in which all the actors are unpaid volunteers.

“We just do it out of love for the material,” said Campbell, admitting that money is way, way tight.

“It’s funny, I’m sitting here in the Hotel Vancouver, having everything paid for me, living the life of luxury – and I’m having a hard time making the rent back home!

“It’s the strange irony of where my life is at right now.”

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