In the new thriller, Citrus Springs, a psychiatrist in the quaint suburban town of Citrus Springs, Jean (Oscar Nominee Christa Campbell), longs to move back to the big city with her teenaged-son in order to recapture the life she once had. But Jean’s plans are put on hold when a masked murderer begins rampaging through the town and killing innocent families with no obvious motive.
As the town falls deeper and deeper into hopeless paranoia, Jean reluctantly teams up with rookie detective Brandon Stiles (“Justified’s” Jesse Luken), a small town cop and ex-patient, whose only lead is McKinley (Nicole Smolen), a traumatized teenage girl suffering severe PTSD, who witnessed her family’s brutal murders.
Campbell has seen and done it all in her years in Hollywood. She’s done the TV guest spot in shows like “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Family Guy.” She’s worked with some of the biggest names in the business like Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man, Jason Statham in The Mechanic and Winona Ryder in The Iceman. Her latest project is the indie film, Citrus Springs. Every person in Hollywood has their own story about how they got here and Campbell is no different. Acting, however, hadn’t been a lifelong goal of hers.
“For me I’ve always have been attracted to challenge. I was a young model and the natural evolution was to move into acting. It was hard and challenging. I wasn’t very good, so I studied hard and became better. Also, it’s scary putting yourself out there and I loved that. I loved working through my fears.”
Those of us of a certain age loved the “E! True Hollywood Stories.” Campbell probably is too since it was her portrayal of Bettie Page in one of the episodes that first caused casting agents to take notice of her. Campbell also feels a kinship with the famous pinup model.
“Bettie was a fascinating character. She did all of these photo shoots for free. She was ahead of her time. She was a dark beauty and I’m attracted to that.”
As I mentioned earlier, Campbell has seen and done it all, which includes being a Playboy Playmate. Though the experience didn’t change her life, she looks back with no regrets.
“My life did not change – only my pocketbook and ego. I tested to be a playmate three times and was rejected. So when they came to me ten years later, it was an ego thing for me. And I’m proud of the pictures. They are beautiful. I’ve never had a problem with nudity. It’s natural.”
Many actors turn to producing to gain more control over their careers and Campbell is no exception. In 2011, she partnered with Lati Grobman to form Campbell-Grobman Films, resulting in Emmy and Oscar nominations for them.
“It was again a natural progression for me. I sort of fell into it. Now it’s my obsession and I’ve quit acting. It drives me, I thrive off of it.” As for the nominations, she explains, “I think we gained respect from our peers. It has been an amazing ride. One I hope to ride again soon.”
Her latest acting role in Citrus Springs almost didn’t happen. We’ve heard stories of an actor taking a part days before production and the cliché is true for Campbell and Citrus Springs.
“I was in New York and got the call if I could start tomorrow. An actress had to drop out last minute. So I jumped on the first flight out [to California]. Learning dialogue on the spot has never been my strength, so it was very challenging.”
In Citrus Springs, which is a thriller, she plays the lead character. While it’s common to have a female lead in a comedy or thriller, it’s very uncommon to have a female lead in today’s sequelized, tentpole-driven, box-office-success obsessed marketplace. She has her opinions as to why this is.
“Hollywood is a business. Female driven films unfortunately don’t sell well in today’s market. That’s just a fact. It’s sad but it’s life. You have to appeal to what the audience wants. We want them to buy tickets to our films, unfortunately most of those films are big budget make driven action films.”
Besides her own characters, she does have a few other female characters.
“I am obsessed with Claire Underwood on “House of Cards” [Robin Wright Penn]. And “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington. Those are my two favorites right now.”
Though she’s extremely proud of her role in Citrus Springs, her priority is her production company.
“I focus on what’s in front of me. Right now it’s a series of films my company is producing. So yes, that’s what my focus is right now.”
Citrus Springs is now available on Amazon VOD.