While things may not look this way for Ash, it’s about to get extremely “groovy” on the third season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead, which premieres on Sunday on STARZ.
After two great and gory seasons, giving us more and more reasons to love the Jefe himself, we are going back to the nightmare that is high school to face off against the evil that isn’t just cheerleaders and jocks.
This time Pop Break sat down with the man himself, Bruce Campbell ay New York Comic Con, to discuss Ash’s journey through hell on earth and fatherhood, Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo’s (Ray Santiago) dynamic, and all that blood that reminds us just how Evil Dead truly changed the game.
So what’s the premise for Season 3 of Ash vs. Evil Dead?
Evil is like the mafia. If they can’t get to Ash they’re going to get to his family. So now he has family [a daughter named Brandy played by Arielle Carver-O’Neill]. So she’s in grave danger from the second she appears in the season until the end of the season.
So he’s more vulnerable than ever now?
Hell yeah! Once he accepts the fact that he’s a father it’s like “Holy shit, I have to protect her.” She’s job one, you know? A lot of times Ash will be like “Hey I’d love to stay but I have a daughter at home. See ya.”
How does that dynamic play out? Obviously you cut on a theme, do you have that kind of father-daughter relationship chemistry outside of the –
As an older actor to a younger actor, sure.
Do you fall into that role?
Yeah, you make sure they’re okay. You warn them what’s coming up.
You faced Henrietta last season, is there a possibility of facing some of the old foes again from the movie?
Who’s left? You know what I mean? I think we sort of screwed the pooch on that. No, if Season Four comes about everything will be very different. In every way that you can imagine.
So you guys have already talked about Season Four?
To some degree, but there’s no point getting a bunch of writers in a room if you can’t pay them. Or there’s no show to go to. Yeah, we have a clue. But it’ll be radically different.
In regards to how you want Ash to grow as a character is there anything in your wildest dreams that you’d be like, you know what, let’s go to this because it’s something I want my character to go to?
This was pretty big. This satisfied me for the whole season. Because scenes with [Ash’s daughter], with someone who is actually your daughter, it’s like scenes you’ve never done before. Ash has never done this shit before. So it’s all new, and that’s what keeps actors interested, is keep evolving that character. We have to, you can’t stall in television. You make a movie, the character can be two-dimensional and snarky; you do a TV show and you’re investing. You’ve got to invest in this person. You want them to come back every week, you have to have different criteria, there’s got to be a different step to that character.
The show has to grow and evolve, so that’s what we’re hoping for this season too. Grow it, new characters, little more of the Joseph Campbell myth is going to come out. Ash wants to know too. Why the hell me? Why is it me? We also see Ash kind of get to his breaking point. He gets to the point where maybe he can’t do it anymore. So it’s good stuff this season.
When it came time to make this show, did you ever have concerns that Ash wouldn’t have depth to be a weekly?
You know it was only physical concerns. Not the mental concerns. I knew we could have fun with Ash, make him work. But just to do the actual job of playing Ash is gets harder every year. So we should kill him pretty soon. [laughs]
In a larger scope, 2017 was a big year for horror, with Get Out and IT, it’s been very successful. How do you feel about that?
I love it! Those are our brothers. Walking Dead does well, I’m not jealous. I’m fucking happy for the genre. They brought it out of the darkness, you know. They made it mainstream. We all owe a big debt to The Walking Dead. So these are my brothers. The guys who are the executive producers, that goes back to Evil Dead 2, that’s when they formed their company was after Evil Dead 2. So everybody is sort of intertwined.
And look, at the end of the day it’s just another genre, and that’s what I think people realize now. Same with the superhero movies. It’ll eventually fall off its little perch. They’re going to have some bombs, I can guarantee you. You have three or four bombs in a row, those spandex movies are going to go. But they will become another standard genre, the superhero movie.
Spider-Man, the original Spider-Man, really jump started that. It made so much money and Sam Raimi did a really good job regardless of what which one was best, blah blah blah. It really solidified that. So horror is just another genre now. When I first started out, horror was about one rung above porn. It was looked down upon. You either started your career in horror or you were ending it in horror. Now it’s ok to just be in horror. And look, I don’t have any massive love for horror, I don’t give a shit one way or the other. But I’m glad that it’s not being picked on anymore and it’s not being looked down upon. Why should it, it’s just another genre?
With Ash you got to kind of be the hero and a horror star, which is need for this genre. The icons are typically monsters, they’re not typically heroes.
That’s right, that’s what makes Ash unique in the horror universe, there are very few series that have the good guy as the lead. It’s always the killer. Maybe that’s why we stand out.
Are the things that made him successful in film – do you think it’s evolved or changed at all? Why are we still celebrating Ash, in your mind?
Because he’s you. He’s you fighting monsters. It’s your neighbor. Ash has no special skills. We got a note from Starz that Ash, improperly was gun-handling and went in front of a guy to shoot something and we’re like, that’s a dumb note! Ash has never had any gun-handling training. That’s just silly. He’s not in the military, he never was. So maybe that’s another reason why people can relate. Because he’s not a superhero. He doesn’t come from another planet. He’s way mortal. He’s really mortal – he’s a flawed mortal. I love how flawed he is. He’s an awesome character.
And it’s a valuable thing to be the auteur of his productions in a way that past horror shows never were. Because you can do anything with him. You really shaped him.
That’s true. That’s the beauty of television. If they cancel us at the end of Season 3, you’ve still got fifteen hours, you know? Fifteen new hours. If we did movies, you’d get an hour and a half. Or we’d spit out a couple of them, and you wouldn’t get that in three years, you’d get an hour and a half movie that’s rated R, it’s not even unrated, and then five years later you get another one. If you want a product, man, go to TV.
How has it been for you to see that fan reaction?
Well we were just grateful that people have accepted the show. They didn’t have to, they could go, “Fuck Campbell, he’s too old and out of shape and this is just not going to happen, we are not interested in this anymore.” To me, it actually has made it more interesting to me because he’s not able to do the job anymore. Save the world. I mean, the guy drinks, smokes, does angel dust – he’s got lots of bad habits, and this is the guy that has to save the world. I think that’s fantastic. If Ash was this amazing, physically skilled guy, it wouldn’t be as threatening. He’s just an old geezer now trying to save the world. I love that.
Is it because of maybe the physical part of it that you might not step behind the camera and direct an episode?
I don’t know, the Evil Dead movies are weird. I try not to get involved in the directing side of it. I’ve always been on the producing side. I think it’s more fun just to torment the directors that come through there and punish them.
This season, is there any particular scene we should look for that was especially harrowing for you or anything like that?
I tore a hamstring last year, I didn’t tear one this year. It was better, physically, this year. It’s not the hardest work, it just kind of sucks in general because you can’t breathe, you feel like you’re in a corset, which you are. Just general discomfort.
Has that been interesting then for you, like the evolution of special effects?
Yeah. Fake blood still tastes like shit though. The taste has not really changed. The dye they put in is still the dye they put in. it’s still repugnant. But what they’ve gotten a lot better at is the delivery systems. Like, you can swap out nozzles and the guys will take us outside – if we have a thing coming up, we’ll go outside the stage and they’ll put the nozzles on and they have an outline of a human to see what it’ll do. To see what it’ll do. We want to see the spread. Am I going to get a tight goop in the face, or is it more of a shotgun? Or it gives you a chance to go “shit, that’s a lot of blood.” So you can get yourself ready. And then the one main thing you have to remember is try not to flinch. I flinched once last year, I flinched before it hit me and they had to cut around it a little bit. It’s tricky because you know it’s coming. Try not to flinch.
Bruce Campbell stars in Ash vs Evil Dead which airs Sunday nights on STARZ.
Transcription: Melissa Jouben | Additional Writing: Bill Bodkin