Happy in Hollywood, actor Larkin Campbell loves what he's doing
by Nadine Munns Gerkey '49 | © Washington State University
It's a dark drama, set in a desert. The lead character, Zack, runs into some bad guys, and he's in real trouble. The name of the movie, an independent production, is short and catchy: Nowhere.
But the actor playing Zack, Larkin Campbell, hopes the movie goes somewhere. He not only played the lead, he also produced the flick.
"We've sent it out, but it hasn't been accepted in any of the festivals yet," he says. "We'll have to wait and see."
Among other projects he's working on is Squatch, an adventure film about two guys chasing the mythical Bigfoot.
Last year he was a co-star on the NBC comedy Scrubs, and had a part in the drama, American Dreams (NBC). He's appeared in early episodes last fall of Joan of Arcadia (CBS) and Las Vegas (NBC), both one-hour dramas. The latter stars James Caan in a behind-the-scenes security operation in the gambling capital.
The road leading to Hollywood and the world of make-believe may have been paved by Campbell's acting in plays as long as he can remember. His experience as a communications major at Washington State University helped groom him for the task ahead: breaking into the professional acting scene.
The record indicates that hard work, as well as talent, have guided Campbell on his quest for stardom.
In 1967, he moved with his family from Eugene, Oregon, to Estes Park, Colorado. There he began acting in little plays in grade school. One of his most memorable roles in high school was that of Trapper John in M*A*S*H. He took theater classes and auditioned for every play that came along. Supporting vocal roles in Oklahoma and Li'l Abner added to his repertoire.
While pursuing his degree at WSU ('91 Comm.), he was a broadcaster and late-night disk jockey at KUGR, a college radio station. He starred as a military general in Arthur Kopit's play, End of the World, and acted in several Little Theater productions in Moscow, Idaho.
"I loved all my broadcasting classes," he says.
He credits Professor Glenn Johnson, his broadcasting teacher, and Brent Nice, his acting teacher, for "getting me going." Johnson remembers his former student as a talented writer, and encouraged him to pursue that avenue in addition to acting and producing.
Campbell graduated after completing a four-month internship on television's popular Entertainment Tonight show. Offered a job at ET, he stayed two years and was promoted to production assistant. Later he met his wife, Maria, during a year he worked at the Supermarket Sweep show. They now have year-old twin sons.
Campbell worked for Roseanne Arnold of the TV show Roseanne, taking care of personal errands, her children, and home. He was fired when the star and her husband, Tom Arnold, divorced.
"It was bad at the time, but it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me," Campbell says in retrospect. He had time off to refocus, and even came back to Washington for a short time. He decided to concentrate more on acting.
"The only way I knew I wouldn't have a chance was if I didn't try," he says. "The longer you are at it, the more people you meet. It's still a 'who you know' business."
Satisfied with his progress, he doesn't get caught up with wondering where he stands with others his age--36--in the business.
His goal, he says, "has always been to have this [acting] be the only thing I need to do, so I can take care of my family and not drive everyone crazy."
He's been successful enough that he hasn't had to do anything outside the industry, where his wife also works.
"Without her support and encouragement," he says, "I would be pumping gas outside of Las Vegas."
For the past seven years he's been a production assistant for other movies and for television shows, as well as a stand-in for several super stars, including Mel Gibson during the shooting of Lethal Weapon IV. Campbell also played in a handful of LA stage productions.
"I enjoyed my time at WSU. I'm proud to say I went there," he says. "I love what I'm doing now. I've been so lucky."
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