Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein lead tributes to ‘Election’ co-star Jessica Campbell after her sudden death at 38

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read

Watch: ‘Election’ actress Jessica Campbell dead at 38

Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein and Matthew Broderick are among those remembering Election actress Jessica Campbell, who has died at age 38.

Campbell, who played Tammy Metzler in the 1999 film about three high school students running for student body president, died “suddenly and unexpectedly” at home on Dec. 29, according to her professional website. After success in Hollywood — also appearing in TV’s Freaks and Geeks and the 2001 film The Safety of Objects — she became a naturopathic physician and had a practice in Vancouver, Wash.

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 23: The movie "Election", directed by Alexander Payne. Seen here in center, Jessica Campbell (as Tammy Metzler). She wears a sandwich board featuring the slogan, 'Tammy Metzler for President'. Initial theatrical release, Friday, April 23, 1999. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Jessica Campbell — wearing a sandwich board featuring the slogan, "Tammy Metzler for President" — in the 1999 film Election. She played a gay teen who ran against her brother (played by Chris Klein) as well as overachiever Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) for student body president. (Photo: CBS via Getty Images)

A GoFundMe in her name was established for her 10-year-old son, Oliver, as well as to cover the unexpected cremation, memorial and probate expenses. Campbell was described as “a true adventurer in every sense of the word,” packing “a staggering amount of experiences into her tragically short lifetime... Traveling the world, acting, becoming a doctor, being mom to the coolest kid ever; these bucket list items wove the quotidian fabric of her reality. Her passion for life and the people in it was astounding.”

Her cousin Sarah Wessling, who set up the online fundraiser, told TMZ the family is awaiting autopsy results from the Multnomah County Medical Examiner. Campbell had a normal day seeing patients. While visiting with her mother and aunt later, she collapsed on the bathroom floor. They said Campbell had congestion, thinking she was coming down with a cold, but the family didn’t suspect COVID.

Jessica Campbell (Photo: GoFundMe)
Jessica Campbell had become a naturopathic physician and had her own practice in Washington state. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Election director Alexander Payne and Freaks and Geeks executive producer Judd Apatow were among the top donors listed on the GoFundMe — and there has been no shortage of tributes to Campbell.

Witherspoon, whose character Tracy Flick went up against Tammy Metzler in the Election election, wrote that she is “so heartbroken” to hear the news. “Working with Jessica on Election was such a pleasure. I’m sending all my love to Jessica’s family and loved ones.”

Chris Klein, who played Campbell’s brother and opponent in the film, wrote he was “shocked and saddened to receive the news.” He said Election “was the first” big film “for both of us. I will be forever grateful fo the experiences we shared on that journey.”

Broderick, who played civics teacher Jim McAllister, told The Hollywood Reporter, "When I think of Jessica I remember a shy, incredibly sweet, very pink-cheeked teenager who liked to discuss with me what is best to order at Applebee’s. She was very dear and an extremely good actor. Heartbreaking news. My deepest sympathy to her son and the rest of her family."

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 23: The movie Election, directed by Alexander Payne. Seen here, Jessica Campbell (as Tammy Metzler). Initial theatrical release, Friday, April 23, 1999. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Jessica Campbell (as Tammy Metzler) in Election. (Photo: CBS via Getty Images)

Apatow shared on Twitter that some of his “favorite memories of making Freaks and Geeks are of watching Jessica Campbell and @sethrogen figure their relationship out in improvisations,” as she played tuba player Amy Andrews, a love of interest of Rogen's Ken Miller for two episodes in 2000. “Jessica was so funny and an amazing, thoughtful actress. What a terrible loss.” (Rogen reshared Apatow’s post.)

Campbell’s professional website details how she long considered a career in traditional medicine, but after “some soul searching she realized that holistic medicine was what truly spoke to her.” And “due to a strong family history of cancer, she knew that she wanted to focus on integrative cancer care.”

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