Ash Vs Evil Dead, in the midst of its second season, is continuing to provide Bruce Campbell with the opportunity to kick evil's ass and stop the demon threat that was unleashed some thirty-five years ago on the big screen in Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. As Ashley "Ash" Williams, he and his ragtag team find themselves immersed in weekly excursions into horror, massive amounts of blood and subversive humor as, in season two, they turn their attention to demonic cleanup in Ash's hometown.
Campbell is obviously having a great time, embracing the fact that no matter what else he does, Ash will remain his most identifiable role, so he's damn well going to make the most of it.
The first season of Ash Vs Evil Dead was partly based on some concepts for what was originally going to be Evil Dead 4. With where season one ended, have we seen whatever those concepts were?
Very loosely. Very little of Evil Dead 4 survived. Those are random ideas that have been assembled by Sam Raimi. Once they got morphed into doing a TV show, very little of that survived, because the entire premise of another Evil Dead movie has nothing to do with starting a TV show where we're finding our hero thirty years later. Not much would be similar just because of the needs of each particular format.
What sort of survival training advice did you give your young co-stars on this show?
Just, "Get ready, because this will be the most difficult job of your life, but potentially the most rewarding. You also may be stigmatized for the rest of your life, too." That's definitely part of it. That's sort of good and bad news being an actor. The good news is, they like what I do. The bad news is, that's the only thing they like.
Word is that improv is a big part of the series.
It is only when we need it. That's not the intent. The intent is to show up and do the work that's on the page, but if the work that's on the page falls flat, it's our responsibility to assist them. Some episodes there's not much ad libbing at all and others there's a shit ton. But I've brought a lot of ideas to the character. Every word out of my mouth is a word that I've approved. I don't say any word that I don't approve, so any word that Ash says has been approved by me.
Is it insane for you to be playing this character thirty-five years after the first Evil Dead?
Weird, but good. I'm really enjoying the character. It's the best character I've actually ever played, now because we're fleshing him out past the two-dimensional smarmy talking guy. Now he has to be a hero, he has to interact, he has to be a leader, he has to be compassionate, he has to care and they have to work as a team now. He has to work with other people, he has to talk. Ash has dialogue, lots of it. He's a chatty Cathy now; he never used to be that talkative. I like it.
The TV version seems to be a character on a journey with a real opportunity to evolve.
I might even go Joseph Campbell; you can start getting big epic story. Ash is foretold in an ancient book. He's not just some schlub in a motor home. The guy's got something else going on and we need to find out what that is.
What's your feeling about the reception the show has gotten so far?
We're very happy. Yeah, we're delighted, we're relieved. All of the above. It could have laid an egg and people could have gone, "Hey, nice try." It took a hell of a long time to get to the series, but that's something we played into. Ash wears a man girdle now, he's got dentures, he dyes his hair. So we're milking the age thing now. He was the wrong guy thirty-five years ago, and now he's really the wrong guy for the job and that made it an interesting character to play.
What is it like having Lee Majors on set as Ash's dad?
Lee Majors is awesome. You never know until you actually meet the guy; the guy could have been an asshole. It happens all the time. But he's an old pro, he's a gentleman. He never leaves the set really, he just finds a little corner and sits down. You're, like, "Lee, your trailer's right over there." He goes, "I'm good." First three series of his [The Big Valley, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fall Guy], he slept on the back lot. He had an apartment, because they worked him so many hours. "Well, I guess I'll go to bed now and get up and go right back to work." I'm, like, "Damn!" So that guy's done his time; you've got to have respect for that.
Can you lay out some of the broad strokes for what we're going to see in Season two?
Mostly just Ash cleaning up his hometown, trying to establish a bad relationship with his father, rekindling an old relationship with his girlfriend and mixing up batches of ketamine with his buddy. It's not all good news. Ash gets distracted easily and so the story expands, we see where Ash comes from, he gives them a little more of a base of operations rather than being a very mobile show hauling a trailer all over the place. They're back home. He can rebuild whatever he needs to from there and fight the next challenge.
Why do you think TV is the platform for seeing such an influx of horror?
This is just a genre that caught on. It'll die down like every other genre, but horror has always been one of the four or five main genres that will never go away. Westerns pop up every so often, everybody does a western and then they all die. People go, "Fuck those westerns," and they won't make any more for ten years, then Kevin Costner will make a western or Clint Eastwood will make a western. Genres pop up and get hot and then they die down. Now, thankfully, The Walking Dead helped bring horror mainstream. Evil Dead was banned in six countries; Germany just unbanned it a month ago after all these years. From like '83. You kidding me? Horror has come out of the shadows as a result. You don't whisper, "I did a couple of horror movies." As an actor, you put it right on your resume now: "Fuck you, it's as valid as any other genre," and it is. It's just a genre, not better or worse than any other genre, but it's one of the few genres that can get an audience viscerally engaged. Comedy is the only other one.
In what direction would you like to see Ash go?
All over the place. He has to be a hero and he has to be a villain all at the same time. Okay, not a villain, but he's a very, very flawed hero. He's one of the most flawed heroes on television, and I wouldn't have it any other way. He swears, he drinks, smokes marijuana... in season two he smokes angel dust. You know the guy, he's a piece of work and I love every minute of it. Because, look, I've done the hero thing. The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. He got the medicine, kissed the girl, doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke. He has no bad habits whatsoever. I played that guy. That guy's fun to play, but I'd rather play a guy who's got some serious issues.