Billy Campbell Chat Transcript, April 24, 2000

TV Guide Online: Joining us right now, is actor Billy Campbell from the series Once and Again. Thanks for chatting.

Campbell: Greetings to everyone out there wherever you are!

Question: My sister and I religiously watch your show every Monday night...we want to know how you like your character? Are your characteristics similar to Rick?

Campbell: In some ways similar. In some ways not. I'm like Rick in that I'm a little indecisive and I probably have too much of a tendency to want to be friendly with people rather than speak up for myself. Rick has somewhat of a hard time disciplining his kids because he wants to be friends with them. Dissimilar in that I would probably never wear the clothing that Rick does.

Question: Do you still do any drawing? What is your favorite comic book? Do you prefer the comic books from 20 years ago or today?

Campbell: I draw all the time and paint. I prefer the comics not of today, not of 20 years ago, but of the beginning of the century...Krazy Kat, Little Nemo in Slumberland, The Yellow Kid, Tintin, and one of my very favorites, (Jack) Kirby - who was a comic book artist in the 50's, 60's, 70's. I'm still not huge into all the superheroes and that kind of stuff.

Question: Billy, what color are your eyes? (Believe it or not, this has been a subject of major debate...)

Campbell: First of all I don't believe it. And hazel, though sometimes, my sister thinks they could be blue, but I don't think so.

Question: Would you ever consider directing an episode or will you stick to acting?

Campbell: I would love to direct an episode. I don't have the courage to ask.

Question: Billy, What has surprised you most about your first season on Once and Again?

Campbell: How quickly it passed. There were other pleasant discoveries, one that shooting a series can be sane, creative, and happy. And #2 its possible to get a group of largely sane and down to earth people together who are actors and actresses.

Question: I know that you are a big rugby player...what's your position and do you have a nickname on the field?

Campbell: I've been playing for 24 years now. I've played all over the field position wise. I am now a fullback/wing and I never had a nickname although I always wanted to be called Killer or Thumper or something like that.

Question: Billy, can you please tell us what one of your favorite scenes or episodes was to do this year?

Campbell: That's really difficult to say. There's so many. One of the joys of doing a show like Once and Again that is so well written is that every day is a joy. It would be nearly impossible to pick a specific moment. I didn't mind getting naked with Sela although sex scenes are the hardest to do.

Question: I saw you on The View with Sela. You two seem to have a really good relationship. Does it help to be friends with the people you act with and who do u get along with the best on the show?

Campbell: Again I can't say who I get along with best because I get along with everyone. Yes, it helps. It helps because, for me the biggest part of doing a decent job is just getting along with the people I m working with. It's not hard for me to do scenes with Sela where I have to look like I love her because on a certain level I am in love with her. I don't have to because she is such a terrific person.

Question: Billy, is there anything your fans can do to assure the return of Once and Again?

Campbell: Sure, if everyone of them would call 10 people and so on and so on and tell them all to send an email or letter to ABC to express their happiness with the show then that helps a lot. The show has been picked up. What we need is a decent time slot for next season - ask the network to put us on Sunday at 9pm. That would be very helpful. My dream is to have us on at 9pm after Who Wants to be a Millionaire and leading into The Practice!

Question: Will Rick confront any of his demons next season?

Campbell: Well, we have to invent a few demons for him first. I even have a little bit of a desire to have something come out of him that isn't 100% nice. I've heard people say that he is unrealistic but I don't think its true but I would still like to see something less than nice come out of him.

Question: Billy, Congratulations on being cast as Moses! What other projects do you have in the works?

Campbell: That's the only other one I have in the works right now. Thank you. I'm just looking forward to going to Morocco tomorrow to part the Red Sea.

Question: Will you be doing any theater work in the near future?

Campbell: No, there have been some things recently that I really wanted to do like MacBeth on Broadway. I would like to get something going on real soon. I love being in NY and going to shows - sometimes even two a day!

Question: Billy, Are you coming back home to Virginia this summer? I live in Fredricksburg!

Campbell: I was just in Virginia. I got back yesterday. I drove through Fredricksburg.

Question: Do you realize Billy that your fan base has gotten up quite a few notches, since this program. I want to see everything you have done, now.

Campbell: Well that's exciting! There are some things I've done that are best-left unseen, but if it means I can get more work, and more varied kinds of work then I couldn't be happier. I'm thrilled to know that so many more people are watching.

Question: I am still moved by TALES OF THE CITY? Was that a good experience for you?

Campbell: It was a good experience. It was very well written and I am a huge admirer of Armistead Maupin. He's just a wonderful person as well as being talented. The whole thing was a very heartwarming experience. Sadly it looks as though I may miss out on the next book that they're doing this summer because of Once and Again.

Question: Are we going to cry or smile during the season finale tonight?

Campbell: I think maybe a little of both hopefully.

Question: I've read that you are the "practical joker" of the cast. Is this true? If so, what was your favorite practical joke you played on someone?

Campbell: I don't know how they got that. I really haven't pulled off anything worth mentioning yet... I'm almost spastic with happiness when I'm at work. I have such a good job and its such a great job to have in general that I'm just a little like a hyperactive kid when I go to work.

Question: Will there be any cliffhangers tonight?

Campbell: Well, certainly! Obviously, we know now that we're going on to at least one more season and that's what tonight is all about. I think the episode tonight is exactly what it should be to ham things up for next season.

Question: Hi Billy, I've been a fan of yours since you played Joey, the gum-chewing cop on Crime Story. What has been your favorite role so far, not counting your current one?

Campbell: That was one of my very favorite ones from Crime Story. Some on stage...Fortinbras was a particular favorite of mine. I did The Rocketeer - also a huge favorite.

Question: How much of your character's life do you relate to? Are you married, divorced, kids?

Campbell: None of those things are important where empathizing with Rick is concerned. It's not really necessary to be a painter if you're playing Van Gogh. It's not important that I haven't been married or don't have kids. It's the writing that allows you to get inside the head of someone. If the writing is perceptive then that's all you need to get inside the head of someone.

Question: Were there any specific Once and Again scenes that were especially hard to film? Which ones.

Campbell: The sex scenes. The sex scenes. The sex scenes. And the sex scenes. They are just so painful despite the fact the Sela is so beautiful and a wonderful gal.

Question: What do you do in your spare time?

Campbell: Read, write, paint, draw, play rugby. Hang glide, though I haven't done much of that lately.

Question: Who is your favorite actor/actress that you look to for inspiration?

Campbell: I don't really have one. I find certain performances inspiring, but where I really get my inspiration is from the people I work with. I'm as inspired by who someone is, as I am by what they do or are able to do. I find that sometimes if I see something or hear something about someone that sounds as if it's true or not so nice, it tends to affect what I think of them as an actor or actress.

Question: What was the last book you read?

Campbell: The book I'm reading now is a book about Moses by Jonathan Kirsch who is a wonderful writer. Before that I can't remember. All sorts of stuff... John Gardner, reread The Hobbit for the first time in 25 years. I'm a sci-fi and fantasy fan and its heartbreaking that so much of it is so bad. But The Hobbit was better than I remembered - it transcends being a good work of fantasy fiction its good literature, (Stanislaw) Lem, (Italo) Calvino, Lord Dunsany are some of the authors I've read recently.

Question: Loved you in your guest shot on Frasier. Do you like to do comedy?

Campbell: I enjoy doing comedy but don't enjoy doing sitcoms and that's because while I love being in front of alive audience as in a theater and love being in front of a camera (for a series), I'm totally at a loss when it comes to being in front of both of them at the same time. I've done 3 episodes of sitcoms in 15 years and all 3 were painful. I just can't get the hang of it. They were the nicest people over at Frasier and tried to make me feel comfortable but inside I was cringing - it was really hard to do.

Question: What was it like making Menno's Mind? Do people get you and Bruce Campbell mixed up?

Campbell: People do sometimes get us mixed up. I always enjoy it. Once, CNN actually ran a segment on me, the narration was about me, but the B-roll that they ran was Bruce Campbell hanging around the set of some movie he was doing. Bruce is a God, by the way!

Question: You and the show are great! Can't wait to watch tonight. I think the kids on the show are unbelievable talented. How are they off screen?

Campbell: I don't even have words to describe my feelings for these kids. I guess I just feel like god forbid if any of them were orphaned tomorrow I would raise my hand to adopt them. They're all wonderful and stunning actors as well. They make me feel like a dad so I don't feel like I don't have to have any experience. I'm so hugely fond of them as I am of the whole cast.

Question: How much input do you have into what happens with your character?

Campbell: We all have as much input as we want - that's one of the great qualities of both Marshall (Herskovitz) and Ed (Zwick).

Question: Are you looking forward to next season? There are some really great story lines to be explored. What is one that you would like to have covered?

Campbell: That's hard for me to say. I have such faith in the writers on the show. Marshall, Ed, and all the rest of the writers that I rarely ever think of something like that. I just come to work and am happy to find out what's going to happen because I trust that what's going to happen is good.

Question: Billy, do you have a web site or e-mail address?

Campbell: I don't. You can go the ABC site -

Question: Have you illustrated any books? Is that something that you are still interested in?

Campbell: That's definitely something I'd be interested in. No, I haven't but I plan to. It may not happen for years, but eventually I'll get it done.

Question: You say you write --has any of your work been published?

Campbell: No. None of it is for public consumption. I would be embarrassed for anyone to read it.

Question: Billy - Where did you study acting?? College and pre professional work?

Campbell: I studied at a little acting studio in Chicago called the Ted Liss Studio. Ted is dead now. And dearly missed.

Question: Congratulations on your People's Choice award. How do you think the show and cast will fare at Emmy time?

Campbell: Oh...who knows??? With The Sopranos, pretty much knocking everyone in the kneecaps who knows??? I refuse to conjecture just because I don't want to jinx it.

Question: As a fan, I love the inside jokes -- like putting Peter Schlinder's name on the list for tutoring -- what is your favorite inside joke?

Campbell: Those happen all the time. In fact, my girlfriend's name was on the list for tutoring. I wrote it there myself. My favorite inside jokes are when people involved with the production actually appear in small parts. Our production coordinator, Judy Race is the librarian at Grace's school. It's fun for me because I don't see that, because I'm not in the scene and don't know who they've cast and it's a lot of fun to watch it.

Question: I think Rick and Lily need a weekend away...alone! To talk and connect unlike the hit and miss we've gotten in the last several episodes. We all got hooked on them in the beginning and miss their chemistry...what do you think?

Campbell: The writers wanted to concentrate on expanding the show and I think they did that really well. Of course, that meant spending a little less time with Rick and Lily and I don't mind that at all. If the viewers miss that then it's a good thing. You can bet you'll see plenty of us next season.

Question: Are the sex scenes difficult more because of modesty (few people want an audience) or getting in the mood with all the crew and cast present or trying to be convincing?

Campbell: Modesty is not really an issue for me. I've been a lot more naked in other television shows. It's really sort of the painstaking approach to getting it right. It's complicated because you can only show so much. You have to do it over and over so someone's elbow covers someone's breast at the correct time. It's really tedious and complicated. After 15 minutes under the hot lights you start sweating and you don't smell so good any more. Its just ruins the mood and is gruesome to do.

Question: Any other opportunities coming up for your devoted fans to meet you, similar to the William Paley Festival?

Campbell: Not that I know of. But I'll be out and about walking the streets.

TV Guide Online: Thanks for chatting with us tonight, Billy.

Campbell: Thank you all for watching the show and making it possible for us to have a second season. May your God bless you and good night!