Christian Campbell madness: Neve's big brother juggles acting, producing and his hit musical

Christian Campbell madness
Neve’s big brother juggles acting, producing and his hit musical
By BOB THOMPSON — Toronto Sun
A grinning Christian Campbell couldn’t help himself during a recent lunchroom break from shooting the movie version of Timothy Findley’s novel, The Piano Man’s Daughter.

“It’s all good in the ‘hood,” says Campbell, dressed in a ’30s-style suit at Scarborough’s Sullivan Entertainment studios.

Good might be an understatement for Neve Campbell’s older brother.

Besides playing the lead in the Kevin Sullivan-directed period piece now, and receiving decent notices for his portrayal of a gay kid in Trick last summer, the 27-year-old is on the verge of some big things this fall and winter.

His groovy and goofy L.A.-based musical, Reefer Madness, is headed for off-Broadway next season and a Reefer Madness cast album will be recorded soon.

He’s getting his movie production company set to go with a film called Last Call, which might shoot in Toronto early next year. And he’s in the middle of building a theatre in L.A. as a home base for his theatre company.

Then he reminds himself of more good news. Reefer Madness has been extended again. “And we were just nominated for six Ovation awards,” he says, referring to the L.A. version of the Tonys.

“And we’ve been doing Reefer Madness for free the last year, so basically it’s good to finally see it pay off.”

Many things have been paying off for Campbell these days. It’s been a slow build since he moved from Toronto to L.A in ’94 after a recurring role in the CBC’s Degrassi Junior High.

While sister Neve was busting out in the TV series Party Of Five, big brother was slogging it out in failed shows such as TekWar and Malibu Shores.

The Campbell siblings also got together to co-produce and co-star in Hair Shirt, which was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In fact, Campbell may be altering his course, what with the L.A. theatre venue, the production company, the off-Broadway business deals.

“The acting thing for me is something that I’ve always done,” he reports, “but the number crunching thing can be creative and enjoyable too.”

He was bitten by the business side of showbiz with the mounting and staging of Reefer Madness, his madcap musical loosely based on the hysterical 1930s documentary allegedly depicting drug addiction.

“Reefer Madness really is an anomaly in Los Angeles,” he says. “The last show originating in L.A. was, like, The Rocky Horror Show.

“And it’s a fair comparison, because a lot of our audience members are repeat offenders. And we get the Rocky Horror people coming out in Gothic and drag and shouting out lines.”

Campbell smiles, picturing the Reefer Madness madness he’s missing while he films, ironically, back in his home town.

Meanwhile, he just returned to Toronto from Washington, D.C., yesterday, where he ran the marathon for the Marine Corp. AIDS fundraiser. “I was training for six months — I wasn’t going to give that up.”

Campbell thought he would jam one more thing in before he finishes up The Piano Man’s Daughter this week. Then it’s back to L.A. and his apartment in old Hollywood, where he’ll plot his next move.

“I’m hoping to get to a place where I have balance in my life, where I’m doing things and enjoying them,” he says of movies, TV and theatre.

“I question whether I want Neve’s kind of superstardom in my life. Sometimes, she’s in tears on the phone to me because she’s had her life taken away from her.”

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