TV Icon Lee Majors Talks Joining Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2
The horror community was understandably excited when it was announced that Lee Majors will portray Ash’s father in Season 2 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” Bruce Campbell noted that Majors comes from “a generation of actors who were born with hair on their chest,” and Dana DeLorenzo said, “[Majors] is still very sexy and very charming… and [I] truly believe he’s the perfect casting choice for Ash’s dad.”
With a resume that boasts of not one, not two, but three programs that surpassed the 100-episode plateau, including “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Fall Guy,” it goes without saying that Majors is a television icon.
Majors recently spoke with Dread Central about his role in the upcoming second season of “AvED” and offered insight that Brock Williams blames Ash for the death of his daughter [Cheryl], discussed how show promotion has changed throughout his career, touched on his legendary Scrooged cameo, and shared a tale of his wife’s trip to the hair salon that leads into one of the most hilarious political statements this writer has encountered during the current Presidential campaign.
Lee Majors certainly seems poised to make “Ash vs. Evil Dead” better, faster, and stronger!
Dread Central: Let’s start at the beginning. Walk us through that first phone call and the process of you coming to the role of Ash’s father for Season 2 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”
Lee Majors: I had heard of the original (Evil Dead) movies back when, but I don’t think I ever saw one. I didn’t even know it was on as a series because it was one of those horror things and that really hadn’t been my cup of tea throughout my career because, as you know, I did mostly family-oriented action shows that the entire family could sit down and watch. It was a surprise that they contacted me, but then I sat down and looked at Season 1, the first episode, then I went to two and three. I sat and watched all ten shows at one time, and it just kind of pulled me in because it’s completely different. I’ve never seen a horror show done with such humor (laughs). When Ash is slashing up somebody, he throws out such funny lines that it takes the curse off the horror stuff, you know? I really enjoyed it. I thought it was funny, I thought the cast was great and a good group to work with. But I didn’t know they were shooting it in New Zealand, which is a pretty good ways to go, but I ended up going and enjoyed the process and it seemed to get right in there with the chemistry of the whole group. I was a big fan of Sam Raimi’s anyway so it was a real treat, and I think that Bruce Campbell is probably one of the most underrated actors there is because he’s really super good at this role and what he does. I’d heard of Lucy Lawless a lot, and she turned out to be a real charming lady and a very professional actress so the whole thing was good (laughs).
DC: Dana DeLorenzo has said that when your character and Ash are on screen together, Ash is the adult in the room — which is a tremendous statement. Give us the lowdown on Brock Williams.
LM: Ash comes back to his hometown (Elk Grove, Michigan). His father was never mentioned in any of the other shows, but he’s a very surly guy. He was the owner of the only thriving hardware store there, but ever since his son was labeled as a serial killer, his business kind of tanked. Nobody wanted to do business with the father of “Ashy Slashy,” which is what they nicknamed him. Brock just spends his days watching television and drinking a few beers, and when Ash shows up, he’s not too pleased to see him. He just wants him to do his business and get the hell out of there. Brock thinks Ash is really nuts, actually. He blames him for the death of his daughter and he just thinks all this chasing evil stuff is crazy because he hasn’t seen it; he hasn’t witnessed any of it. Brock just thinks Ash is a little nuts anyway, and of course, it’s like father, like son — Brock likes the women (laughs). The first couple of episodes are very confrontational, and then it gets a little more competitive. There’s some fun stuff in it, with references to one of the series I did – I’m sure you can imagine which one – mentioning some bionic parts or something and there’s a Bigfoot reference, but it’s all fun. And I got my first indoctrination of the blood. You know, in all my shows, we weren’t allowed to even show much blood; they would say, “Oh, that’s too much blood. Too much blood (laughs).” I saw more blood in this one episode in thirty minutes than I did in my career doing seven series (laughs), and that includes some work on “Tour of Duty” (laughs). I had to get splatted so they had this machine that was sitting right under my chest, so Ash had to chainsaw somebody and when the blood came up, I didn’t know how quick it was coming and boy, it just splattered my face and everywhere. It was in my eyes, up my nose (chuckles). I looked like a real mess, but that seems to be all the fun that they have out there — how much blood they can use.
DC: With Ash returning home to confront demons from his past, both literal and figurative, how will Ash change this season? What kind of growth (if any) can we expect?
LM: Ash has never really had any big emotions, but I think there’s a little bit brought out this season. I think if “Ash vs. Evil Dead” gets picked up for next season, it’ll probably even grown more. There’s only so much they can do because they only do ten shows [per season], and you’ve got five other actors in there besides me. You’ve got to divvy it up between all of them and all the Deadites that they have to show, so not much can be done in one show, and it kind of varies from show-to-show. I’m not in the entire season, but some of my stuff will be surprising.
DC: Campbell has talked about it extensively, and we’ve seen you mention it a few times, but just how much does it playfully irk you that Campbell calls you “Pop”?
LM: [Campbell] started it on the set; he doesn’t really do it much in the show (laughs). He would say, “Come on, Pop. Let’s go” (chuckles). He always kids me because I’m an old school actor. I leave the camera and I’ll go maybe five feet away and find a chair. Of course, he’s always asking me, “Would you like some water or some coffee?” And I’d say, “I’m good. I’m good.” [Campbell] couldn’t get over that; he said, “You know you don’t see that these days out of these kids. They run to their trailer and get on their phones and their iPads. You’re always here.” That was just the way I was trained and brought up, but it’s been fun. Bruce has been very protective of me also because I’m a little older. But I told him, “You’re 58; you start using your stuntmen a lot more because I wish I had used mine a lot more now.”
DC: Campbell has also hinted that your character tries to pick up Lucy Lawless’ Ruby in a bar this coming season. That has to be a hell of a scene. Can you talk about that?
LM: When people ask me what’s the funniest stuff that happened, it’s me trying to pick up Lucy Lawless at a bar. With no success (laughs). There’s some funny competition between Bruce and I in a saloon, the same bar, because there is a riding bull there, like bulls they had in the saloons back then, so there’s some competition on the bull that’s kind of funny (chuckles).
DC: You alluded to the fact that you’d never done a “bloody show” before, but all Evil Dead characters get slathered in plasma, so what was that experience like when you got doused in that syrupy goodness for the first time?
LM: I’ll tell you one thing… I did try to get cleaned up but I was in a rush and I went back to the hotel and I wanted to grab a little glass of champagne to take to my room because it was the end of the day and I didn’t shoot the next day. So I stopped in the little bar and the guy looked at me kind of funny, and when I got to the room, I realized that there was still blood all over my neck that I didn’t get (laughs). He probably felt that I’d been in a car wreck or something like that (laughs). But the biggest thing about the blood is that it’s sticky, and when it’s all over your shirt and pants, they get like cardboard. You have to peel it off from your skin and it’s just crinkly and sticky still, all day. I remember the last show, though, I went up to Bruce and put my hand on him (he was covered with blood), but it wasn’t sticky; it had a rubber effect that they used. I said, “What the hell is this?” And now I know… he’s an executive producer so he doesn’t have to have that sticky mess on him (chuckles). So I said, “I want that next year if I come back. I want that rubber blood if you have to be in it all day.”
DC: The recurring theme with the cast is the amount of fun and laughter had on the set of “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” Do you have a behind-the-scenes story from filming Season 2 that will leave our readers in stitches?
LM: I just think the funniest thing you can do is watch the (San Diego Comic Con) panel. I mean, you turn Bruce loose and he is funny. And Ted Raimi… just to look at Ted (chuckles), I mean, I laugh. Everything was funny. There was a lot of stuff but I can’t remember all of it, and some of it, if I reveal, it’s part of the story. Here’s the interesting thing. I’ve done more press for this show (chuckles), and I’m not even the star of the show. I mean (chuckles), they’ve worked my butt off for this thing and I’m not even guaranteed to come back next year. I don’t even know why I’m doing all this stuff (laughs). I never really did much press for all my other shows because when you’re doing a show and you’re the star of the show, you have a studio which does most of the press for you. And when you’re on every week, you don’t really need the press. Anyway, I’ve just been helping them out. It’s a good group. All the Raimis and Bruce went to high school together up in Michigan, and they’ve been using all the same people over and over for all these years, so I was glad to get into the group because they’re pretty loyal. And whatever Sam comes up with next, I’m sure that I’ll be a part of it. In fact, I just agreed to do a little film up in Michigan in October called Dead Rising. It’s based off of a video game, and I guess the word’s out that Majors does horror now (laughs). I’d never been offered to do horror stuff because I guess they didn’t think of me in that vein, so I may be the new king of horror here coming up (laughs).
DC: You touched on it a little earlier, but shows like “The Six Million Dollar Man” would have been great fodder for conventions had they existed at the time, but with “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” you recently attended your first Comic-Con. What was that experience like participating in something of such magnitude?
LM: You get 250,000 people in there in a weekend and then all the press from all around the world; you cannot garner that much press in one spot. It’s very big, very commercial, very corporate. Even all the movie people come down there because they can reach so many. We have interviews with the foreign press and every streaming thing there is. For two days I was every fifteen minutes into a different little room at the hotel, all of us were, back-to-back with photo shoots and everything you could think of. It was unbelievable, so that’s how the business has changed. I remember when I did “The Big Valley,” ABC put me on a plane, a commercial plane, and sent me to about five major cities the week of the premiere and I ended up in Miami sitting in a hotel room the night of my premiere of “The Big Valley,” by myself (chuckles) watching the show. And there was no one around to say “Hey, it’s me!” you know? (laughs) So there I was watching myself starring in a television show for the first time and nobody to watch it with or share it with. It was kind of interesting (chuckles). Like I said, five cities, the big cities like New York, Chicago, Miami, Boston, and Philly or something like that, but that was it. That was all the press you got.
DC: What’s it been like engaging with the Evil Dead fan base, who are very passionate, and almost unrivaled in their devotion to the franchise?
LM: I didn’t even know that a lot of people watch this show. My wife, for example, was at her hair salon the other day and she mentioned to her hair dresser, this young girl, that I was on [the show], and she said, “Oh, come on! That’s awesome!” People love the show, they watch the show, and I didn’t even know it had that many [fans]… I mean, [there are] whole groups of fans of all ages. People that I was shocked had ever even heard of the show. It’s like saying you like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but you wouldn’t tell anybody, but then when somebody brings it up, it’s like, “Oh, I like that too!” (laughs) It’s a great fan base, just like the Trekkies, the “Star Trek” fans, they are crazy. [William] Shatner still goes to [conventions] all over and he’s like the king, which is good. I’ve known Bill, he guested on “Big Valley” a couple of times and several other shows that I did, almost every series I did he guested on, so we’re good friends. It’s good to be remembered, and now they’re going to do The Six Billion Dollar Man with Mark Wahlberg, and Peter Berg is directing, I think. I’ve met both of them before, and I like them, but hopefully they’ll remember me and I’ll be able to have something in it. Who knows? The Fall Guy they’re developing, and Dwayne Johnson, I think, has agreed to do that one. I’m getting up there where, last year I was 67. The year before that I was 57. Now this birthday I just had, I can’t turn my numbers around anymore. Seven-seven is it (laughs). That was the last time I’ll be able to turn them around.
DC: It was nearly thirty years ago now, but I cannot have this discussion with you and not touch on your cameo in Scrooged. How did that wonderful tongue-in-cheek role come to pass, and what are your memories of it?
LM: That comes up a lot! I got the call from Richard Donner, and I didn’t know who Dick Donner was, but he was the director and he asked me if I would do a little cameo for him, and I said sure. I ran over to the studio and put on the outfit, but the only thing was that gun they gave me to shoot, I thought they’d at least give me a prop gun or something plastic to carry around, but that damn thing was the real thing and it must have weighted 40 pounds. I could hardly hold it up till they said “Cut” it was so heavy (laughing). That’s the one thing I remember (chuckles) about that shoot. Ever since then, it’s played every damn Christmas. It’s been fun because I was able to play myself and the Santa Claus guy (Al “Red Dog” Weber) was so funny, “Lee MAJORS!” (laughing) I mean, that almost embarrassed ME when I saw it (laughs). It was fun.
“Ash vs. Evil Dead” returns on October 2 at 8 p.m. on Starz.