This is an edited transcript of a telephone interview conducted with actor Tim Quill on November 12, 2009. He acted in & assisted numerous Super-8 productions, along with having small roles in many of Sam's later feature films, including an appearance in each of the Spiderman films, and perhaps most famously playing the Blacksmith in Army Of Darkness.

Tim in his role as the blacksmith, with a shaved head & fake moustache in Army Of Darkness (1993)

Hi Tim, thanks for talking to us. Tell us what you're working on at the moment?  
I'm not filming anything right now, I have a little independent movie I'm going to start work on when I get back to town in January, and then I don't know exactly when I'm reporting for Spiderman, but I think that's around March or April

That would be Spiderman 4?  
Yeah, actually with Scott Spiegel, his brother Ted, and myself, we've been in all three, and I hope we're going to be in the fourth together.

Scott Spiegel & Tim in It's Murder (1978)  

Tim in It's Murder (1978)
So going back to the beginning, tell us how the Super-8 films all started?  
Boy this goes back to junior high. I moved into a high school near Detroit Michigan, a town called Birmingham. I was brand new at the school, and I met this guy; Scott Spiegel who was really in to Three Stooge movies, and they were starting to shoot Three Stooge movies of their own on Super-8 film, and they asked me to join in. It was myself, Scott Spiegel, with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell doing a lot of the stunts, and camera work and we just got together as sophomores in high school, that's where I first met the guys. In that three or four year period we shot about twenty shorts, mostly comedies, like Three Stooges. We shot one called James Bombed, which was a movie like the secret agent James Bond. It was really strange, Jimmy Hoffa was abducted from a restaurant only maybe a mile from my house, it was closed down for a while, they still had the yellow FBI tape out front when we were out there a week later shooting The James Hoffa Story, just a week after he was abducted, the FBI was still doing research, and the police would come outside, shake their heads, and go back and do their work, and here's all these little high school kids dressed up like Mafioso running around town, and we shot a Jimmy Hoffa part one and a Jimmy Hoffa part two which was another story. To me, that's when Bruce made his breakthrough with us because it just showed his genius, just how funny he is, the physical comedy, of course he did most of the stunt work too, he just had that ability. Then they started making some really cool stooge like comedies such as The Blind Waiter and Torro, Torro, Torro!, which was about a run-a-mock lawnmower.

Actually I do have a number of the shorts, about fourteen.  
Oh, OK. So you probably have a lot of the good ones. They really got in to the true horror movies when Sam met Rob Tapert at Michigan State University. I think Rob Tapert was a business minor, he got his degree from Michigan State, definitely he was the business end of it, but they got together, and Rob Tapert said to Sam Raimi "Sam, you're doing a lot of good stuff, but for us to really make it you should do a horror movie." So I think Rob Tapert took Sam out to see... I don't know what was around then... Halloween, what ever movie was around in the late seventies, and Sam said "look at that, I can do that, I could probably do that better than those guys", and that was the beginning, Rob Tapert said that was the quickest route for us to get in, and here we are thirty years later, Sam's probably one of the best horror writers and horror directors there ever was, of course Sam saw that so well, he was a student at Michigan State, and his movies were showing at the big theatre in East Lansing with lines down the street, and he was I guess a sophomore or junior, well needless to say there wasn't much Sam could get out of that film school after that. That's when they guys packed their bags and kind of hooked up with Dino De Laurentiis, eventually.

There were a number of Super-8 films shot even after The Evil Dead, such as The Blind Waiter.  
Yes, The Blind Waiter where I play a disgruntled patron, yeah that was the time I went away to school to Las Vegas, and I would come home during the summers, and usually I would work on whatever project they were doing, but I was gone most of the year. We were throwing pies and poking each other in the eyes when we were kids and catching it on film, but we'd actually use a real soundtrack from the Three Stooges, but compared to today, the editing equipment they used was incredibly tedious. Today the kids have Avid programs, they've got sound mixing and editing, everything done on their laptop, back then it was crude, they would shoot all day, then be up all night long editing, sound mixing, doing everything else, it was just incredible. They had that hunger for shooting movies. A couple of the guys would work full time jobs, then go to school, and then at night shoot and edit. I always wondered when did they go to sleep? We'd shoot the movies all week long, then on Friday nights we'd show them to the students in our auditorium, or small theatre, or whatever, and it would be a packed house. Every time the guys would make one they would pool together and buy stock lighting and props for the next one. Those were the beginnings of Renaissance Pictures.

Bruce & Tim in The Blind Waiter (1980)

Tim in The Blind Waiter (1980)

So Renaissance Pictures was Rob, Sam & Bruce, how did it come down to those three as opposed to anyone else in the group such as Scott Spiegel or Josh Becker?  
You know I remember when that little split came, because it might have had to do with raising funds or maybe getting investors, I don't know how it exactly happened. That was the time were Scott was part of the Renaissance crew, but as time went on he wasn't one of the partners. That was basically Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. Josh Becker would still direct for the guys but he really wasn't a part owner of Renaissance Pictures. Scott Spiegel started writing scripts, he actually wrote The Rookie for Charlie Sheen, that was his first pay day. Every time I went back to Detroit, I went to the Renaissance offices, I'd see Josh Becker and Scott Spiegel there, they hung out with the true core, what is today Ghost House Pictures.

There does seem to be some of politics involved, with who said what to who, and who was working with who. Some people were feeling left out or people feeling that other people were taking over.  
I bet you are correct, and I bet there is a lot to that story, but I know that when Rob Tapert came out for it, it became a real business, it seemed like it was more business, business, like he was in a business, but he just had talent, Sam Raimi and him together made quite a team, I mean Hercules, Xena, Darkman, they've had some great projects and now with their production company Ghost House Pictures they're working on 20 different productions right now.

The Happy Valley Kid was played theatrically, then It's Murder, which lead on to The Evil Dead, did any of the subsequent Super-8 shorts play theatrically for profit?  
I think there were some small productions that they put together, well Crimewave was a big production, I'm trying to think of some of the shorts and Super-8s, I think that pretty much came to an end once they started getting in to Within The Woods which later became The Evil Dead and then they started working on The XYZ Murders which later became Crimewave. That was the time when the boy-play was over and they were really shooting some pretty exotic movies in Detroit, they were certainly in the paper all the time, the guys became very popular in the metro area around Detroit. But any movie they were shooting would be in the papers, whether it was small or large.

After The Evil Dead, there was The Blind Waiter, Stryker's War, Torro, Torro, Torro! and Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter, but they were all directed by either Josh Becker or Scott Spiegel, had Sam left by that point?  
Yeah, in fact in Styker's War which in later years was remade as Thou Shalt No Kill... Except, I play one of the marines. I remember being on a set with Scott Spiegel, Josh Becker and Sam Raimi. Sam was just starting to develop Evil Dead II. I remember because I went to read for the part of Jake while I was dressed like a marine and Danny Hicks beat me out. Just after finishing Evil Dead II, that was the last time, probably until Army Of Darkness, that I was working with Josh Becker. The one thing I do remember is Sam's loyalty to me. I don't know what happened between him and Josh, and I never got involved with politics, I was just a care-free actor guy, so I never really got involved in that and never really found out the true story. Although Josh Becker had directed, I think two of Hercules or Xena, I know he was working on those. Sam has always been very loyal, and if there is something for you, or even a chance of something for you that phone is going to ring, and he's not going to toss you in to an area where you don't belong, you never have done and never will, but certainly if there is a shot for you; that phone rings, and that kind of loyalty is none existent today.

Tim in Army Of Darkness (1993)
I don't know what you look like now, but in your role in Army Of Darkness you had a shaved head. Did you already look like that, or did you do that for the role, and if so, why did the role demand that specific thing?  
I will tell you the exact story on that, I had very nice blonde hair which I'd had ever since college, I guess I was 31 or 32 years old at the time. I worked with Proctor & Gamble, but then I went to business school, and when I got out of college I went into business and kind of got away from movies. I slipped in Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, but I wasn't pursuing it like the guys were. Then all of a sudden I'm 30 or 31 years old and I wanted to come up to California because sales or whatever else I was doing in Michigan you can always do in California but there are 20 million more people so that means more opportunity. I'd just found a place near the beach, and I happened to talk to Scott Spiegel on the phone. He mentioned that "I'm doing this little movie called The Nutty Nut, but Sam is doing a real big movie called Army Of Darkness, you might want to talk to him, I think you've got a part". I called Sam on the phone and he said "come on in Tim". I walked in to his office with this long blonde hair and he said "I've got a little part for you in the movie, it's only one line, it pays X amount of dollars, but you've got to shave your head". I remember Sam used to like to torture us sometimes, like he'd was going to make me shave my head then I'd wear a cap for the whole movie, or a big cowboy hat. So I didn't know why, he just looked at me and he tilted his head to one side, that was the trademark Sam move where he looks at you, and said "yeah, shave your head".

So I come back about a week later and a girl takes me in to costume and she loved my hair; "oh that hair is just too lovely, lets try something". So she greased it back into a big pony tail. "Sam how's this look?" he says "nope, off with it". So I shaved my head, got a little sun, they put a prosthetic moustache on of course because it would take years to grow one like that, and the girl walked me out to the set were they had built a castle. Sam's up in this big old crane, and he looks at me, and she says "how does this look Sam?", and Sam says "oh my god", he tells the crane operator "bring the crane down", he brings the crane down, grabs his book, comes over to me, opens up his story board book, all written out, and sure enough he points to the first picture and I was a dead ringer, I'm saying that was a portrait of me with a bald head and fake moustache, it couldn't have been more exact, Sam just had that eye, and I really did, I shaved my head and I wore the moustache, and I couldn't eat every day, and pumped sand bags to try and make my arms look bigger and bigger throughout the movie. Sam gave me my break, actually I've done a few things since then but that was my first break in to getting my SAG card, with Sam just taking a shot, and it worked out well

Strykers War was first made as a Super-8 film, then later remade as a feature, which starred you in one of the lead roles. Bruce was in the Super-8 and didn't go on to reprise his role in the feature, was there a particular reason for that?  
You know that would have made it such a huge movie. I know he was in the middle of putting together Evil Dead II at the time, so they were heavy into pre-production. We actually used his house for shooting for weeks, we used it as the cabin, and the bunker. I mean we all lived in his house, him and his wife were gone. Sam just had this little part, he played the Manson character, I remember shooting with him. But that would have been such a different movie with Bruce as Stryker.

You get the feeling that Josh Becker wrote that character for Bruce, but couldn't get him so got the next best thing.  
Brian Schulz yeah, he just took the most handsome guy he could find I guess, in Detroit he was an eligible bachelor. Not to say anything less about Brian Schulz, I think he did an alright job with the time he had to prepare, but that movie was written for Bruce.

So then you went on to play a role in Spiderman, were you were just cast at the last minute or was it planned well in advance?  
Sam just happened to be casting for Spiderman and he saw a part, I guess he wanted me to look like Saddam Hussein, because I do look a lot like him if you look at the pictures, I had snapshots I was selling at a show in Chicago and all these little kids are going "you look like Saddam Hussein, I want to buy the picture just for that". but Sam, puts incredible amount of work into picking the right parts. Everyone thinks they're talking to Bruce about it, everyone at these conventions, "so Bruce, what are you playing in Spiderman 4, are you going to be Mysterio or any one of the big villains", and Bruce says "Nope, you know what I want, all I want to do is be a milk man or a waiter", and I think, you know be careful what you ask for.

Sam asked me to be in that picture when I was walking to dinner with him, because I hadn't worked since The Quick And The Dead, there had been quite a span where I hadn't worked, and he said "well Timmy, I'm not sure but chances are we might be doing some more Spiderman, and I can't see a Spiderman movie without Timmy Quill" and I said "woah, well we'll see" and sure enough the call came through. Actually I was on that set for a month, and then I got a call for part three. You know I might talk to him every two or three years, it's always through his assistants or though managers, but at the Fangoria Convention Sam grabbed me out of the crowd, and says "do you have all your SAG payments up to date", why is he asking me that? "do you have all your SAG payments up to date?", I say "I will as of Monday, I call on Monday and make sure I am" and he says "because I want you ready for Spiderman 4", so that's how it came up, and the next thing you know they ring up from costume to get my size, but it's been a great franchise and its has opened up a lot of things.

Tim with Tobey Maguire in Spiderman (2002)  

Danny Hicks & Tim in Spiderman 2 (2004)  

Tim in Spiderman 3 (2007)

So just to jump back a bit, was there a change in the the Super-8s at any point, from just being fun, to making money? Was there a change in the mood of the set or was it just the same as it had always been?  
Well, that was never a problem. People worked furiously back in the days when we used to pay for everything ourselves, to the days we came out even and showing them around, leading up to The Evil Dead and Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, which were both at the theatres for a couple of weeks. It was always a good working atmosphere, very prepared, pre-production is everything with these guys, they don't just fly to chance. Sam is always learning to take care of his cast and crew, many directors can't really deal with that. You walk on a set with Sam Raimi and you see this 'aww shucks" kind of guy, there's no one like him in Hollywood. You're used to seeing guys on pictures "get this down off this building, or I'll find someone in this town that can, now get it done", you know, those kind of guys, always threatening, but that is so not like Sam, he is so not that guy. A lot of it comes from his talent, and he's very secure because he knows his talent, he knows what he wants to do, he sees what he wants to do, and before he starts he's always ultra prepared.

Sam always likes to bring us in, like if Bruce is working and sitting out in his trailer all day with nothing to do Sam always tries to bring us in, like Scott, myself or Ted, just so we can see each other and maybe come in for make-up and wardrobe a couple of days early, The night I first reported for the original Spiderman, that was just to come in and see Bruce. I went out to the set and they were shooting the wrestling arena scene. A big wrestler had to hit someone with a crowbar, and he's a professional wrestler, they're really big, and Sam just couldn't get they guy to make it look real, "come on, you've got to swing that pipe and hit the ground", just like we did when we were kids. Sam finally gives up and says "OK, good enough, I think we got it", he didn't get the shot he wanted, then he turns over to me and says "Tim, this is all the same gags, just a bigger budget", and I said "I remember us doing this junk... for nothing", working just as hard, for just as long, and our shorts looked more real than that. It was just more madness and a lot of the same gags, just a bigger budget. I don't know if he wanted everyone to hear that, but to me it was very satisfying, and so true. I had fun, but I had respect, I showed up prepared and always had my stuff down. I try to help out with the production as opposed to sitting in a trailer like some actor who won't stay on the the set. Some things have changed, but we still all have the same appetite, we just bring home bigger cheques.

Tim with Danny Hicks in My Name Is Bruce (2007)

Heart of Dorkness behind the scenes of My Name Is Bruce (2007)

I think lot of the super-8 productions more entertaining than some of the movies being turned out by Hollywood now, the remakes and remakes of remakes.  
I agree. I see what's being put out today and I'm thinking "wow, no wonder" Actually I'm working on producing my first movie now, and I'm bringing back some of the old comedy stuff we used to do, the slapstick, a relentless 90 minutes. It's going to be called The Shemps, and I'm just starting to distribute the script after my first re-write. Actually I have some investors in Detroit that are interested, of course I will be going after Bruce and Ted to help me out. You've probably heard the term Fake Shemp, Sam uses it on all his movies, we used that back in the day because we only had six guys on the set, if we were shooting on a Saturday we could only get six of us together, so I'm one of the lead actors, then cut to the next scene and there is a party going on, we don't have people, so one guy would be saying his lines and five of us would be hiding our faces and acting like we're talking in the background, and those were called Fake Shemps. Back in the days when Shemp died the made multiple shorts and they had to fill in for him and it was obvious it was a fake guy, that was a big thing. Well, I'm putting together a movie about three 50 year old guys, and they're only interested in doing one line parts, being extras, and they are called The Shemps. It's going to be the trials and tribulations of these three guys; total losers, but they're satisfied and they're actually kind of popular, it's a cool twist, it's my first shot at a comedy since I was in college where I did some TV shows. I'm going to present it to Bruce when I go up to his place for thanksgiving. He's at least going to give me some valuable information and advice, and of course I'm going to need him in some way shape or form. Actually I'd like him to play one of the leads, but that's not likely given the budget, but he would certainly show up to do cameos, I just want to make it as good as possible.

So Bruce is working on the Third series of Burn Notice at the moment?  
Yeah, actually he just went over to Iraq yesterday, or the day before, he'll be back in about ten days and then we're going to get together for Thanksgiving, and I think he heads off to start Burn Notice in January. Actually same network are thinking about doing a made for TV hour long show based on Sam, his character on Burn Notice, I think they like him. He has much more of the script now, the first season I thought the show was good, but now that Bruce is more involved I like it even more, maybe he'll even start directing some of those.

Was Bruce happy to go out to Iraq?  
I haven't had a chance to really discuss it with him. Someone approached me about it almost two years ago when we were just opening up My Name Is Bruce, we were in Detroit then. A military guy visited me, he was the guy in charge of the USO shows, and he just asked me "we'd really like that Bruce Campbell to go out and see the troops", and I said "you know what, give me your number and I'll just send it over to him casually when I'm back home", and I remember giving the number to Bruce and he probably gave it to his agent, but what a great thing for him to do. It took them a couple of years to put it together, but he's going out to entertain the troops, like Bob Hope.

So you're just trying to find investors for The Shemps at the moment?  
Yeah, I'm giving it my full time between now and when I go back to work in January, but I'm working with a partner who's really really behind it, so he's coming in to help me with pre-production, but right now I'm going to be fundraising, when I go back to Detroit for Christmas, I'm going back with my hands open to anyone in Detroit who has money.

I guess having a track record and being tied in with Sam would get you some way instead of being Joe-Nobody from Nowhere trying raise money.  
Tying in Bruce or Ted, that guarantees something's going to come out of it, it's a cool story, but people will look at it and go "oh yeah I remember those Super-8s", little bits and pieces of them.

Is there anything else you want to add?  
Well, just to let everybody know that I'm really looking forward to Spiderman 4, which I know the studio, the town, everybody is really exited about this, because Sam again has more creative control, I don't know the specifics, but him and Ivan are back, and it's going to be an explosive movie, they're holding nothing back, they've basically got an empty canvas, whatever he needs to shoot, he's going to get.

I guess he's got the track record now.  
Oh yeah, they're giving him whatever he needs, if he needs it, he's got it. It should be exiting, and probably Sam's best, I would imagine his best ever. Can't say anything more about the villains, that's very hush hush.

Well that just about covers your work to date. Thank you very much for talking to us Tim, and the best of luck with your new movie. Please keep us posted on your progress.  
Thank you.