#SDCC15: Ash vs. Evil Dead – Gory New Details from Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and More!
While everyone is still buzzing about yesterday’s trailer for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” here in San Diego and all over the world, we got a chance to speak with showrunner Craig DeGregario, stars Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless, and executive producers Sam and Ivan Raimi. Read on for the goods.
“Judging by how the show is coming along and the reaction here, I think we’ll be seeing more of Ash and the Evil Dead once this season is done,” remarked DeGregario on the prospect of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” only lasting a single season. “I’m a huge fan of Evil Dead, especially 2 and 3, but what drew me to this project is without question the Ash character. The heart of any good show or franchise is great characters, and Ash is just one of the best. He’s incredibly versatile. He can be a badass, he can be funny, he can be romantic if need be. The character’s totally well-rounded. There’s something really interesting in seeing what happened to this guy… this same guy who’s never married and has unapologetically stayed the same… now that he’s in his fifties approaching his sixties.”
There was a bit of discussion regarding the show’s runtime consisting of 30-minute long episodes as opposed to 60-minute long episodes. DeGregario elaborated on that decision. “We wanted to be the craziest, punchiest, viewing experience possible, and once you extend things out to an hour-long, you immediately have to pad it with melodramatic moments… but this is not the kind of show that lives in the world of melodrama. The show just moves SO fast. If there’s a moment you don’t like, just hang on a second because something is coming that you will. It goes from crazy to funny to insane to scary effortlessly. Hopefully by the time each episode ends, you’ll be like, ‘Holy shit! That was nuts! What the hell did I just see?!’ I mean of course there’s a story to the first season; it’s not just one loony set piece after another, but we tried to put a lot of emphasis on getting to those really big and fun moments. There are even scenes that pay off later; for instance, we have this one moment in a bookstore in which we find out a bit more about the Necronomicon, and what we learn in those fleeting moments will end up paying off big time down the road a bit.”
The possibility of a single season only came up, and we inquired whether or not in that worst case scenario would we get a satisfying ending that can stand alone, or would we be left with a cliffhanger to hold on to?
“We thought a lot about the [Season 1] finale,” says DeGregario. “Since the film universe and of course the show exists on so many different levels, we had the opportunity to really play with things so hopefully you’ll be getting a satisfying stand-alone ending along with a cliffhanger so, yeah, it basically works both ways. As Ash goes along in this season, he’ll have to make some tough choices, and they become tougher because he makes these relationships with these other people. Something really big happens at the end of the season that’s open-ended that leaves us with a REALLY interesting setup for Season 2.”
“Ash is a real pain in the ass to play,” says Campbell himself when asked how he felt revisiting S-Mart’s favorite son. “Get covered in blood and stay that way for a few days. It’s awful. It’s sticky. You pull the hair off of your arm when rolling up your sleeves… it’s terrible. But on the bright side I can now tell fans to ‘SHUT THE HELL UP’ when they start asking when we’re getting a new Evil Dead movie or something. *Laughs* No, seriously though… we all feel great. Make no mistake though; without STARZ I don’t think this project would have happened. At the very least I don’t think I’d be the one sitting here. They gave us exactly what we were looking for… unrestricted content. Look, we’re not out to offend anyone with this material or try to take advantage of the freedom. We just don’t want anyone demanding that we shoot an alternate version of a scene in which we say ‘golly’ instead of ‘fuck-face.’ Now we get to say and do whatever we want, and there’s just no issues. I cannot tell you how liberating that is as a filmmaker.”
“The movies have always been percolating over the years, but this show is a very recent happening,” says Campbell of when the idea to do a TV show came to be. “The new movie did it’s thing and is good, but it didn’t satisfy fans. They were like, ‘Yeah, thanks, but where’s Sam? Where’s Bruce?’ You guys aren’t idiots. You like what you like. Once the transition in ideas happened from making another movie to making a TV show, everything came together fast. Rob Tapert ended up putting together one hell of a team to get things going in New Zealand. Those guys are incredible out there. These are crew members who were weaned on “Hercules” and “Xena” and of course Lord of the Rings. All they know how to do is stunts, special effects, green screen, sword fights, special props, explosions. These guys can do ANYTHING. They recreated one of the sets from one of the original films in the most meticulous of ways… I had chills when I walked into the room for the first time. I was like, ‘Holy fuck. I’m back here again.’ Everywhere I looked, no matter what the angle, everything was the same. Even the view out of the windows was the same. The hallways, the doors, the furnishings… it was mind-boggling. We’re building a world. We’re creating more sets than we normally would. I mean, an Evil Dead diner is not gonna be an ordinary diner. It’s gonna be fuckin’ cool. An Evil Dead bookstore is not gonna be a regular bookstore. It’s a Harry Potter bookstore, know what I mean? The fans… you guys… you’re important to us. You put us on the map, and we don’t want to let you down.”
“I love Bruce. I messed up once when I was talking to a reporter and I said I worship Bruce Campbell, and the next thing I know it’s all over the internet,” laughs Bruce’s co-star Lucy Lawless, and from the other side of the room we hear Campbell chime in, “I thought that was a great choice of words!” Lawless continues, smiling, “I truly adore the Ash character; he’s like Wayne Newton on Viagra and crack. You’ll see his character do wrong, incongruous, hysterical things. There were things on this shoot that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It goes from one level to another to another… these people have taken this show somewhere that most people’s imaginations just could not go. It’s actually super-funny how Ash lets the Deadites out. That’s when my character, Ruby Knowby [the second daughter of Professor Raymond Knowby, who read the book aloud on tape in Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn], comes about and begins gunning for Ash because she believes he’s the source of the new Deadite plague.
In terms of the show in relation to the films…
“When we first started, we weren’t exactly sure what the show was, but I can tell you that it is tied directly to the second film,” said Lawless. “Fans are going to see so many familiar things. The crew on this shoot is really part of every scene. It’s hugely collaborative, like we’re all part of this massive huddle. Everyone is so happy going to work every day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?!? Believe this, fans, everything you’ve ever dreamed is about to happen.”
Finally, executive producers and brothers Ivan and Sam Raimi came over to drop some Evil Dead goodness on us.
“When we made Evil Dead, our only objective was to make a movie that wouldn’t be rejected at the drive-ins,” says Sam. “To see what it’s turned into all of these years later… it’s just like science fiction to me. Just hard to believe.”
Word broke yesterday that series favorite Ted Raimi is not going to be featured in this season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” but we wouldn’t worry just yet… “I heard it from the audience loud and clear last night… We actually looked for a place to put him that was substantial, but just couldn’t come up with one. If we ever get another season of the show, we will DEFINITELY come up with a role that’s worthy of Ted and the fans’ expectations.”
Another thing that came out of the panel yesterday was word that we might actually see an Evil Dead film featuring both Ash and Mia (Jane Levy) from the remake. We asked Sam to explain a bit more if he could…
“Honestly? I probably shouldn’t have said that just yet. I’ve only had one conversation with Fede Alvarez [the remake’s director] about it, but that’s it. The remake is his movie, and I should talk with Fede more before talking about that particular project. That being said… if we did end up doing that, there’s so many ways it could go and so much material to utilize. Right now, though, the focus is on Ash and his adventures going forward.”
In terms of how it feels to be playing once again in their sandbox all these years later…
“It’s great to be able to revisit Ash again after all of these years,” says Ivan. “We left him in a place in which we really weren’t finished with him… in both universes [referring to Army of Darkness’ two different endings] so it feels really great to see what he’s been up to. He hasn’t changed a bit aside from getting older and he’s unapologetic for that. There’s a lot more story to tell, and it’s super fun now to tell it while he’s older. Even funnier, he still has more or less the same old problems.”
It was indicated early that “Ash vs. Evil Dead” was directly tethered to the second film, so we inquired whether or not Ash is still working at S-Mart. Unfortunately it sounds as if that particular market has closed down due to various legalities.
“Because of some licensing issues we no longer have the rights to use the name ‘S-Mart,’ and the same goes along for anything that came out of Army of Darkness,” Sam told us. “I’m not sure exactly who owns the rights, but we’ve made sure… even gone out of our way… to make sure that will not inhibit the fans’ enjoyment of the show.”
Finally the time came to get the one definitive answer about Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn… remake or sequel?
Sam thought for a moment… “Okay, this is it… the definitive answer to put this matter to rest… Oh wait! It’s time to go,” said Raimi with a smile and a wink while looking at his watch.
We may never really know.
Related Story: #SDCC15: Go Inside Ash’s Trailer
The series will premiere on Saturday, October 31st, at 9:00PM.
About “Ash vs. Evil Dead”
Ash vs. Evil Dead” is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead and will premiere on STARZ October 31, 2015. The 10-episode first season of the half-hour series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio, who serves as executive producer and showrunner.
Campbell is reprising his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario, and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity, and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip.
The cast is led by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) in the role of Ash Williams; Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) as Ruby, a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks; Ray Santiago (“Touch,” Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick; Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past; and Jill Marie Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.