Ash vs. Evil Dead – Exclusive Chat with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell
Just in case you were too busy putting razor blades in apples on Halloween night or accidentally drank so much pumpkin beer that you passed out on a bed of candy, consider this a friendly reminder that the new Starz series “Ash vs Evil Dead” (review) had its premiere on Halloween night.
It’s now available for free on the Starz website and will be airing pretty much nonstop on the network itself all week. Just the pilot would be something to get excited over, but fans of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead universe have been spoiled rotten as ten full episodes of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” are about to be unleashed. Not only that, but Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi sat down with Dread Central to talk about the show, and it looks like Bruce is up for multiple seasons of the series! So make sure to keep watching, or Bruce will blame you for killing the franchise.
Be sure to read all the way through to the end for a quick peek at Episode 1.02, “Bait.”
Dread Central: So, Sam, do you sleep in a suit?
Sam Raimi: No, I don’t!
Bruce Campbell: That’s a fair question. It started about Evil Dead 2, the tie came in: jeans, a white shirt, and a tie. Then, I don’t know when the whole Hitchcock thing …
SR: As the budget went up!
BC: No, here’s the difference. Sam’s suits were always sort of rumpled and frumpy, and then when he started making these really big movies, they were just more expensive, but they were still rumpled and frumpy.
SR: But classy.
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DC: How did you guys enjoy the whole New York Comic Con experience, and Bruce, are you still planning on being in Mallrats 2 after announcing that?
BC: Yeah, once I figure out the part! He kind of put me on the spot a little bit as you can imagine. What am I going to do? Tell Kevin Smith to suck it? Hopefully, I can play like a crabby, over-the-hill security guard… he can’t back out either; they’ll kill him. My fans versus his fans; I think we could take his fans.
SR: His fans are smart guys, right? Nerds and dweebs. Who are your fans?
BC: Savages. Bloodthirsty savages.
DC: Are you guys excited that “Ash vs. Evil Dead“ is actually premiering on Halloween night?
BC: We actually have a date, we have a network, we have a time. I don’t have to dance around it with fans anymore. Here! Get Starz.
DC: I’ve seen you at conventions in the past, and you’re being constantly asked about it.
BC: I’d have to make up some bogus thing.
SR: I can feel that in every time Bruce says if you want to see the damn thing, get Starz; and if you don’t get Starz and don’t watch it, they’re going to kill the show. And he’s basically saying I don’t want to be hassled anymore about it!
BC: It’s between you and Starz now. I’m not the middleman anymore. You guys work this out.
DC: Obviously, you guys have been talking about it for a long time, but there wasn’t a set, huge story going forward. How hard was it to come up with an arc that would fit nicely inside a television series?
BC: Well, Sam had to convert some of these ideas from an Evil Dead 4 script into a pilot and then introduce new characters. So, there was material there that you could use but a hell of a lot that you had to jettison because now you’re going, well, now it’s a TV show; who is Ash going to partner with? Where do we find him? Is he still working for this crappy job? What’s the scoop? I have to say… they won’t brag on themselves, but I think the pilot did a really good job in a half-hour. This is a short time to do this – set all these characters up, where Ash is, his miserable life. We find all these other people, and then it’s set in motion. The tone and carnage and everything. I think it’s an appropriate start. We’re glad to have the Poohbah come back and give it the street cred that it needs. We would not have been able to do this if it wasn’t for Sam; that’s the bottom line. Starz or Sam. Me? They can get some guy, dye his hair, and boss him around.
SR: I don’t think so.
BC: I think the fans got something now that’s legit, and we’re happy they like it. Now you gotta keep them on the hook though. We got ‘em, they’re on the line, but fish are tricky; they can change course on you.
DC: Was it always part of the idea to have you pair up with people and have a team, or is that something you developed with the television series? Ash has always been a loner.
BC: We had to do something; Ash can’t be in a cabin for ten episodes by himself mumbling.
SR: Bruce told me when me and Ivan [Raimi] were turning it into a TV show, he said, ‘You guys have to realize that in television, you need people for me to cut away from. Because I’ll be working full-time just if you have me in half of it.’ Meanwhile, you have to have something for the 2nd unit to shoot, and you need other characters and their stories. This would be impossible to make with just one guy all the time. That’s really what the Evil Dead movies are. I think that’s why people like them so much… because they love Bruce, and he’s always on screen. He was almost never not on screen; there might be three cutaways to evil Bruce, but it’s always Bruce. That’s what a TV show is great for – character, getting to know them. And what they really like best, for those people that do love the Evil Dead movies, is the character of Ash and Bruce Campbell’s portrayal.
BC: But think how many demons you can shove down these people’s throats! Three, four, five seasons? That’s dozens of demons, new demons, action figures!
DC: Did you feel pressure originally to carry the series, and if so, do you feel like some of the pressure has been taken off of you?
BC: Oh, you always feel pressure of the series. In a group of baboons, the number one baboon has the most pressure, and the youngest baboon has the most pressure. The number two baboon has the least pressure, and I did that on “Burn Notice.” Everybody has their challenges. Any movie that’s not two people sitting in a room talking … our art department is incredibly busy, our cinematographers are working it all day long, crew members. The hours that these guys put in.
DC: With the other directors that were involved, how did you feel they carried through with Sam’s vision?
BC: I think that with any show, you get some directors who you go, bang, we’ve got to have you back. And you never know that until you get ‘em. You hire directors very often based on the work that they’ve done, Starz had some guys that they liked, we had people that we liked. There were some guys in New Zealand that we brought in, so it’s a mixed bag. At the end of these ten episodes, you create hopefully your team of rotating directors. You get a system so that everybody knows what’s going on. We don’t have the Poobah but he set the tone and then you try and create a unit that cranks these shows out.
DC: Sam, what kind of conscious decision did you have to bring in some of these other characters and their storylines? Obviously, we don’t know much about Lucy’s [Lawless] character even though she is part of the canon in her own way.
SR: It came from a lot of sources. I’m fairly new to television writing, really new… Ivan and I developed some of the other characters, my brother and I, and then other writers contributed to Lucy’s character. The writing staff said, ‘In the shows going forward we’re going to have this character, Ruby, so Sam, can you introduce her in your show?’ So yeah, that was an added piece that wasn’t in the original script. I didn’t like doing it because my favorite part of Evil Dead is working with Bruce and writing for Bruce and following his story. So when Bruce told me we had to do that, I wasn’t happy about it. My favorite part is him.
BC: And I’ve got to deal with directors that aren’t Sam! It’s a big compromise all the way around. TV is its own weird beast, but we feel that TV is where this show needed to be rather than a feature. I think there’s going to be more life in a TV show, more material for fans, more hours, more everything. It’s not gonna happen in the way of features. We got lucky, we made a feature, whatever it cost, we’d be lucky to do another one five years later.
SR: Ten years later.
BC: Right! The way we crank ‘em out. We’re one a decade. But in that same amount of years, can you imagine how much material we could have?
In Season 2, executive producers and The Evil Dead original filmmakers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell will return with executive producer and showrunner Craig DiGregorio. Campbell will continue in his role as Ash Williams, the aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter. Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) is also returning as Ruby, a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks.
“One season isn’t enough to satisfy the fans’ two decade-long appetite for more Ash,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz, when announcing the early renewal. “The early fan and press support, along with the international broadcaster demand for more story, have made it clear that the adventures of Ash Williams can’t end with Season One.”
“Ash vs. Evil Dead – Episode 1.02 – “Bait” (11/7/15)
Special Agent Fisher is tracking Ash. Pablo gets his first taste of blood in a manic battle, and a revelation changes Kelly’s life forever.