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Bruce Campbell talks about Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3

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Virgin Media announced the return of Ash vs Evil Dead in the UK for a highly anticipated third series.

The STARZ Original horror-comedy is back with more blood-drenched fun than ever, starring Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, the chainsaw-wielding anti-hero tasked with saving the world from evil. Ash, having gone from urban legend to hometown hero, discovers that he has a daughter who has been entrusted in his care. Whilst Kelly witnesses a massacre with their unpredictable foe Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns to warn Ash and Pablo that evil isn’t done with them yet.

Season three of this action-packed new series will comprise ten half-hour episodes, with the first launching on Virgin TV on demand on 26th February. A new episode will be released every Monday thereafter to run day in date with the US schedule.

Bruce Campbell sat down for a chat about the show (some spoilers ahead).

Talk about the fan reaction to the previous two seasons.

So far, so good as far as fans go. I think on Rotten Tomatoes we’re like 98 percent which is – it’s us and “House of Cards.” You know, so we got that.  That’s good and they’re clamoring for the DVD’s, which is good. So, that part of it I think we’ve done. The trick is to get everyone in America to watch the show.  That’s the trick. There’s so much on people’s plates now. I think we’re in a lot of queues. We’re like second or third. We’ve got to get to the first of that line. You know?

But this show on Starz is the only way it could actually happen in sort of a fan boy’s wet dream. Because if this came back as a feature and everyone was like, hey, we need another movie, it would be R rated and you wouldn’t have what you’re seeing right now. If this show was on basic cable it would be a different show. Starz has no content restrictions and I have to say, of the people that we talked to about doing this show with, that was one of the biggest selling aspects.  We don’t have to change anything.  As long as Starz is happy with it, we can put it in. We have to make changes for other countries, you know, according to their standards. But it’s been so nice and the fans hopefully will appreciate that this is one of the rarest circumstances where they can get an unfiltered show, knowing that there’s no other version. This is un-rated television that they’re watching. And for the hardcore fans from “Evil Dead” one and two, that’s mandatory.

It will have been over a year from when we saw the end of episode 210 to when we’re going to see the premiere of this one. Can you give us a quick recap of where we left everyone off in the last season?

Well, in “Ash vs Evil Dead,” the good guys win occasionally and they sort things out occasionally. Season 2 was Ash goes home. It’s like seeing a teacher after school. We meet his father. His sister revisits. We meet an old girlfriend, his best friend Chet. You see his room where he hangs out, which to me was really great as an actor, to see what the Art Department did with Ash’s room.

But Ash was a pariah because in his town he’s known as Ashy Slashy. He’s an urban myth. He’s this guy who killed all his family in a cabin and went crazy. So, he hasn’t been to that town in forever and that’s where evil pops up because evil is very insidious like that. The demons, they know how to hit Ash where they live. It’s like the mafia. If you can’t kill a guy you kill his whole family. So, he has to go back and we get to meet, you know, the great Lee Majors as Ash’s dad. And there’s nothing better than to do bionic hand jokes with Lee Majors, you know? So, by the end of it, Ash fights back, defeats the evil. He has saved his town. He’s a freakin’ hero in Elk Grove, Michigan, again. That’s where we leave it. Because we earned it, it’s ours.

Can you talk about where we find him now at the beginning of the new season?

At the beginning of Season 3, Ash is now doing crappy commercials. He’s taken over his father’s hardware store. He lives in town now. He’s the local hero and he’s gonna cash in on it doing crappy local ads for his hardware store – Ashy Slashy’s Hardware Emporium. Where service is literally our middle name. So, life is good. And Pablo’s setting up a fish and chips – he’s got a little – you can get computer stuff and tacos. It’s a very convoluted idea but he’s okay. Kelly is nowhere to be found. We don’t know where she is. There’s a little passing mention of her but it’s a bit of a sore spot. So, our team starts in place and life is okay at the beginning. And then, you know, like it has to, all hell’s gonna break lose.

Talk about where we find Ruby as the season begins.

Well, Ruby is always the mysterious character. I used to follow Lucy Lawless around on set in Season 1 going, who is Ruby? She’d go, shut up, nobody knows. Because her character’s evolved into the, is she good, is she bad, you know, chocolate, vanilla, what is she? So, this year, she’s gonna come back in a very vulnerable position because we reveal that Ash has a daughter. Season 3, that’s the big bomb. And to me, that one is really cool. Because now you have to see a paternal side of this idiot come out and it’s just so good for his character growth. He’s like telling her not to swear even though he swears like a sailor. You know, he’s got a lot of bad behavioral issues.

And so now he’s got to try and rise above himself a little bit. And she’s in the mix. Brandy is her name.

Going back to the father/daughter relationship, can you talk about how their relationship starts and how it evolves over the course of the season?

It turns out that Ash did get married for like an hour drunkenly to this woman Candice Barr, whose nickname was Candy Bar. They just thought that was the funniest thing ever. Ha, ha, Candy Barr. He forgot it. This woman comes back now that he lives back in Elk Grove and she’s like, uh, you don’t remember me? You know, she winds up basically punching him in the face. It turns out that he does have a daughter who was conceived in a drunken, wild night that Ash does not even remember. So, that’s how memorable his daughter is.

So, the second they meet again they’re thrust into this again because, you know, the demons are hot on everybody’s tail. So, they’re gonna get into a bad situation really quick. So, the dynamics go from bad to worse because, you know, my ex-wife is a vulnerable character in this show.

 

So, Ash is kind of forced to start to grow up now?

Well, Ash has always been a selfish character, thinking that, you know, the world is against him. And it kind of is, in a way. But he’s learned to be a survivalist. He’s a loner. He’s done just fine in his crappy trailer for years probably watching bad movies and getting wrecked. So, this is a big jarring thing to find out that he, A, has a daughter, because he was using his lucky rubber all through the oughts. And he was 50 and 0 with that sucker. So, he’s convinced that, first of all, you’re crazy. I don’t have a kid because I was using my good rubber during that period. A high-quality device.

So, he’s gotta go from that to accepting it first of all because he’s in complete denial at first. And, look, she’s got a big chip on her shoulder. And Arielle [Carver-O’Neill] who plays her is just lovely. And it’s important to get the casting right. When she was auditioning she was very animated and her face is very animated. And I thought, well, Ash is, you know, known for his rubber face. So, it’s good to have an actress who’s being his spawn that has similar facial characteristics. So, that’s been great. And I don’t think any of these actors know what they’re getting into at all. They can watch the movies, it’s one thing. But Arielle, the other day we had a thing where she has to witness, you know, some unspeakable act that her father’s doing – and within the context of the story, he’s not doing anything wrong. He’s being the hero and dispatching what he knows is a demon. So, they set it up on her where she’s behind this character and I’m ramming the character with a chainsaw. So, the saw is out the back of that person basically just hitting her directly. And in the footage she’s just trembling halfway through the shot. And she knows you can’t break – you can’t go, oh, my God, this is horrible. You have to take it.

And this time of year it’s getting colder here in New Zealand. And this stuff is cold. And they can prep you all they want about what it feels like to get that crap in your face. There’s nothing like it. Because then it seeps down inside your costume and it’s this squishy, icky, sticky crap that gets worse as the day goes by. My wife Ida calls it the sort of dirty diaper syndrome that actors in these shows are pretty miserable because we really all day long are sitting around in the essence of a dirty diaper.

But the actors have all really risen up this year. They know what’s coming and now, you know, Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago, they’re old pros. They’re like, oh, yeah, blood rig, number two. Oh, yeah, the prosthetics and they know the harnesses now and they know all the stunts by name. So, it’s really nice to see them come full circle and their characters evolve, as well. I think that’s the trick with television. You’ve gotta go somewhere. So, Ash has had to grow and what better way is there to tell a middle-aged man, well-past his prime, that he has a daughter that needs him right when he’s like, I’m kind of done with this. Where are the Cheetos and the drive-in movies, you know?

So, it’s been great as an actor to play that because you don’t – it’s fine for Ash to have his quips and his one liners but you’ve gotta care about these people. And if you can see, holy shit, this idiot has a daughter and her really does care about her and she’s great –she’s sort of the Marilyn in “The Munsters.” There’s always the normal child. So, she’s she’s actually really trying to accept what Ash is saying. She’s a really good girl, but the trials she has to go through to believe her father – but then the good news is, when it clicks, then she’s like, oh, my God, everything you said is right.

Ash has a line, he goes, you know, I’m a crappy father but I’m also a really crappy liar. I’ve always told you the truth, even if it’s the weirdest stuff. I’m only telling you the truth. So, that’s their bond is that for all of Ash’s failures, he respects his daughter enough to only tell her the truth as bad as it sounds. Yeah. Yeah, but if you know that it is the truth you can form a relationship based on that.

Can you talk about where we find Pablo and Kelly this season, and the return of Lee Majors as Ash’s dad?

Well, Pablo always has had something else going on. His uncle was a brujo, so he’s gonna be re-introduced in Season 3 to push Pablo over into the brujo especial zone. He’s a guy who can read from the Book. He has special knowledge now. And it’s important for your demon-fighting team because Ash looks at the Book and he’s fought it for 30 years, this stupid Book. But he couldn’t read a page out of it. He saw the drawing of him in there. He’s like, hey, that’s me. But that’s about it. Pablo, now we can use him a little more as our own personal shaman of like, Pablo, what’s happening? What does this mean? He has visions. He has so – poor Ray [Santiago], you know, his character’s been put through so much.

He’s half-naked through most of these episodes with, you know, Sumerian tattoos all over him that move and crawl and cause him torment. But, that’s been good for Ray to now cross over the line. He’s communicating with creatures from other dimensions and he can help us figure it out. So, it’s kind of critical. Kelly, meanwhile, turns out she’s hanging out with these knights. I call them the Knights of Columbus because they’re these, you know – also they have their own mythology, these knight characters. They know of Ash, they’ve heard of Ash. They’ve tried to contact him in the past and his father was such a jerk that he basically blew ’em off. One guy wound up dying in his cellar who had vital missing pages of the Book of the Dead. If you had read those like big things could have happened.

And what’s great is we bring Lee Majors back as Brock, as Ash’s dad, in a way to sort of be an Obi Wan and show him about Christmas past a little bit. He takes him into his own memories and shows Ash some of these events that happened thinking now that maybe he’s helping. So, Ash and his father have a crappy relationship and that’s been really fun to do. In Season 3, I’ve had more to do with Lee as an actor than Season 2 because we’re bickering. He’s a ghost, you know. I’m like, Dad, help me. He’s like, I’m a ghost. I got nothing, you know? I’m like, Dad give me a hand. He goes, it ain’t gonna work.

So, that’s been really great to work with Lee more and to work on the characters because I was saying to the writers, don’t bring him back just so they can bicker. Let’s improve that relationship. Because it got cut short. Brock got run down in front of him. One of his eyes was missing, you know what I mean? It was a ghastly way for him to go with unfinished business. And his father’s telling him, there’s something amazing you need to know. Bam, gets wiped out.

So, now we can get into that and start eking that out. So, this knight mythology is coming out now. And again, it’s all anti-Ruby. The knight guys, I don’t really – those guys are a little hardcore. They seem like biker dudes to me. So, Ash doesn’t – they show up and they’re always getting down on one knee. I’m like, what? Is there a sale on kneepads? What’s going on? Because Ash is still the average guy. He doesn’t know the mythology. He doesn’t claim that he is – this is all kind of still a big imposition to him. But these other guys are hardcore.

Kelly winds up with them. So, Kelly continues her journey as, you know, the next generation bad-ass. She has a harder ass persona. She wants to get this evil done with because she has her own old-time revenge issues with her parents being killed. And so, we got the whole Batman thing going there. So, she will continue to be there, be present.

Let’s talk about some of the special effects. Are they continuing to ramp up the blood and guts level this season?

I don’t think we can do any more blood than Seasons 1 and 2. Those were really bloody. And you don’t always need the blood. We know that we can do it. I think we had to get a little bit out of our system. It’s like saying to an actor, you can swear. The second you say that to an actor, all they’ll do is swear because they can. So, you’ve gotta get it out of your system.

We’ve actually had to decide between us who swears and what type of swearing and when. Pablo has always been based on shock. Fuck! It’s the quick visceral swear. Kelly is like, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. She’s just a foul-mouthed woman. And Ash is more like, we’re gonna put an end to this horse-pucky right now. Like he’ll do more anachronisms. He’s more of a God damn kind of guy rather than – he’s not – the F-word he’ll throw out but, you know.

So, same with the blood. We did buckets and buckets of blood, you know. The Art Department could tell you how many gallons we’ve used of blood. It’s a lot.

But I think once you get that out of your system, put it in its proper place, there’s a place for blood and carnage and limbs flying. But that’s not what the show is constantly. You create set pieces, you know, and let that happen. So, it’s been a slightly less bloody season, particularly for me because I think Ash is just trying to deal with family issues and save the world.

Are there any set pieces from this season that rival the demon colon scene from Season 2?

We do so many of these ridiculous sequences that it’s hard to keep track of them. The colon sequence from Season 2 was very memorable. I kinda knew when we were doing that that was gonna be a water cooler sequence. You know, a guy getting pulled up a cadaver’s butt. You don’t see that every day. I still laugh but not when we were shooting it. This season has, I would say, about a half a dozen of those. You know, it happens with such frequency now we go, oh, now we’re gonna do the thing with the thing.

We’ve started to reverse engineer the fights in Season 3. Because they’re so extensive, the main unit would actually bog down trying to shoot these complicated fights. Raicho Vasilev, the greatest stunt man ever, who’s my stunt guy on this show, the second unit, the second team, they’ll shoot the whole fight with Raicho. And then they’ll sort of pop me into where they need me throughout the fight. That way these guys can just go crazy and do it. We would slow them down on it if we shot these on main units. So, we’ve been trying it a little differently this year and it lets the stunt guys go crazier because we’re not always there trying to interject ideas. They come with us, they show us an edit of what they’ve done. And Raicho is hilarious. He’s the most ridiculous, over the top actor when you watch these little videos. I want to put ’em on the DVD extras. I want to show – because the stunt guys make a little movie and they show it to you like, here’s the fight.

And they’ll go in the warehouse and they’ll act it out and Raicho is just, he’s the worst actor ever. But it’s awesome because his reactions are always so over the top, I’m like, great, I know how to play that scene. But I want to show their movie and then show the finished scene because I think you’d really get a kick out of it. They are the building blocks for these sequences. And we take it for granted now but this is really tricky work, tabling guys and making them fly across the room, and Raicho has not been injured this year. Knock on wood, you know? He’s the hardest working man in show business.

What can fans expect overall from this season?

In Season 3, the myth is gonna get big. And it’s gonna get – it’s gonna crack open. The sky will crack open in this season because Ash has saved his town. We see him after school. This is definitely about family this season. But he is foretold in an ancient book and that’s gonna come to fruition. And he’s basically gonna fight the ultimate evil this season. We’re about to shoot some promotional posters for it and there’s a creature, you know, Kondar, who it’s the ultimate creature from hell. It’s Godzilla. So, it’s gonna be Ash in a tank versus Godzilla ending this season. It had to get big and like rip open because it’s time. It’s time for Ash to finally get that – where is he going, where does he wind up?

At the end of the season, there’s nothing familiar where he winds up. Let’s not forget Ash can time travel. And his ability to time travel on top of the myth that is sort of his preordained life, that has to come out. We’re gonna start to see it.

And I think to fans, you know, you want to give fans the same piece of chocolate every week, you really do. Chocolate dipped in peanut butter is even better. Every week, I want that, give me that. But there always comes a point where they go, where is this going? Where is it leading me? So, it’s one thing to have gags and humor and horror. We’re working hard on all that. But you’ve gotta kind of drag people along and let ’em know, this is all gonna be really cool. Stick with it. And I think Starz was in favor of that, too, of like, let’s see it. Everyone’s talking about the myth. Let’s see it. So, we’re gonna finally get there. And it’s cool and terrifying because it is a brave new world. And you want to know that fans will follow you off the cliff. We’re kind of going off a cliff at the end of this season. And I think it’s spectacular.

How is the show different from any other show on TV?

“Ash vs Evil Dead” is worth checking out only because you really won’t see anything like it on television. It’s a super hero show without the hero, without the super. But it creates such a fantastic world that I think people can really be taken away by it. Start with the movies, check it out, see what you think. But this is really – I feel it’s a richer story. In three seasons, we’re gonna wind up with 15 hours of new material. You know, every season is five new hours. And if we did movies, you’d never get that.

So, if you want to come along for a crazy ass ride, that’s what I would say. But don’t expect – it’s not “Happy Days,” you know. This show has a hard edge to it. This is still unrated television. But I have to say if grandma has a sense of humor she can sit with little Joey and they can watch this show as long as they just understand this is all fun. We’re going for this crazy little romp and it’s over in a half an hour. This is like mind fluff, this show. What I would recommend is that people just watch it again as soon as you finish it because it’s a very rich half hour, I will say.

And I think because it’s a half an hour the pace is better. We can keep the pace up. Look, we’re not the only horror show on television. But you watch some of these hour-long shows – let’s go get those bad guys. Holy crap, I don’t have the time for that, sorry. I gotta get at it. Let’s go get those demons, let’s get ’em now. So, if you want to see something happen fast, for your attention-deficit life, this is the show. It’ll be over before you know it.

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