The inimitable Bruce Campbell is back to his old tricks as Ash Williams, the chainsaw-wielding anti-hero tasked with saving the world from evil. The third season of “Ash Vs Evil Dead” finds Ash’s status in hometown Elk Grove flipped inside out. He’s gone from homicidal urban legend and general embarrassment to humanity-saving hero.
But really, now… How long can Ash hold onto the glory? It’s always something!
This time it’s Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), the tough-as-tacks teenage daughter he never knew he had; a fanboy in the form of Dalton (Lindsay Farris), leader of an ancient order called the Knights of Sumeria; Ash’s deceased dad Brock (Lee Majors) in the form of a ghost; Ruby (Lucy Lawless) is as unpredictable as ever; and his sidekicks Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) are back for more deadite abuse too.
We sat down with Campbell – who was impeccably dressed in a gray suit with a tie and bright yellow pocket square; about as far from his flannel-and-denim alter ego as can be – and picked his brain about what fans can expect in Season 3 of the gleefully gory TV series.
Campbell, as a producer of the show, was thrilled to have “the amazing Lee Majors” back on set. Fan reaction to the dynamic between Ash and his father in Season 2 was huge, Campbell told us. “I just wish we didn’t kill Lee that quick. But this is one of the reasons why he came back. We were like, we gotta get Lee back.”
Even though he’s dead, Brock is not out of the game. “I have actually more screen time with Brock this season than when he was alive. He comes and goes anywhere, as a ghost.” If you’re thinking death might have toned Brock down a little, think again. He’s his usual caustic self. “At one point I’m doing a fight scene and I go ‘Dad, a little help here’ and he goes ‘I’m a ghost dumb ass!’ It’s a gag, yeah. Because he’s not solid. I can’t touch him.”
So, what can Brock do? “Well he can give advice. Turns out he witnessed, unwittingly, a section of this Evil Dead mythology that he didn’t even know was unfolding, back when he saw it happening. So he gets to share with his son a little bit of something that happened in the past, that his son was not aware of. And it’s like A Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Carol: the ghost of Christmas past takes him round and shows him stuff. So we have a little bit of that going. It’s cool stuff.”
As to whether or not there will be even more time travel in the Season 3, Campbell says with a sly expression, “We will not be ignoring it. I’ll give you that. You have to use your imagination. But Ash does go to a very unfamiliar place. Let’s just say that.” Hmm. Our guess is Heaven. Or maybe the DMV (that Oldsmobile’s registration tags probably still say 1981).
Not surprisingly, Ash doesn’t know he sired a daughter somewhere along the way. It’s comes as “a big shock. No idea. Didn’t even remember procreating. Consummating the moment. So he gets rudely reminded, very early on.”
What kind of dad is Ash? “Improving. He’s bad at first. But he says, ‘I’m a crappy father but I’m also a crappy liar.’ He goes ‘I’ve all told you the truth, even though it sounds crazy.’
“And Ruby is kind of evil this season. Because my daughter’s in high school, she’s trying to put funny ideas into her head. She sounds normal but everything she says is a lie. I sound like I’m crazy but everything I’m saying is true. So my daughter has to learn to trust me and it seems impossible.”
If you’re wondering in what ways Brandy is her father’s daughter, you can bet it will be revealed in spectacular fashion. “You’ll find out later when she starts kicking a bit of ass,” Campbell promises. “She becomes pretty capable. Don’t forget, we can always pass the torch here.”
Campbell said he really enjoyed working with Carver-O’Neill. “Arielle’s great. She’s very appealing. And I have a daughter who looks a lot like her, similar age, so it definitely enhances the scenes – I’d be thinking, ‘What if I had to tell this to my daughter?’ So it helped a lot.”
What about Ash’s sorta-kinda surrogate daughter, Kelly? At the end of Season 2, there was a rift between her and Ash. “Kelly this season will get a little more of her own bad assery. She will develop.
“Same with Ray’s character, Pablo, he’s going to be a little more bru-howian [the character is a brujo… a male witch of sorts]. And he will become useful in looking at translations that – Ash never knows any of that Sumerian crap, he doesn’t know any of it – but Pablo, because he’s got one foot in, one foot out, can be an interesting conduit to the other side. So he’ll be pretty useful as the episodes go on. It’s a busy season.”
Speaking of the Knights of Sumeria, their leader Dalton joins the squad. “Ash thinks he’s just a fan boy. Ash doesn’t necessarily buy into all of the mythology. Because the guy’s like kneeling all the time and saying ‘He is the chosen one!’ Ash is like, ‘Get up, get up. Don’t do that.’ But it’s a good dynamic because there’s another group that’s trying to be like Ash, trying to take down these demons and rid the world of them. He’s sort of a James Dean motorcycle guy, and he’s cool. Lindsay’s a lot of fun, who’s playing him.”
Since there are two newbies being added to the main cast, and Campbell is a producer, we asked him about the vetting process and just what kind of personality it takes to keep up with the brutal stunts, pages of rapid-fire dialogue, gallons of blood and goo, and so on. “They get it quick how we operate. We’re very no nonsense, we get a lot done every day. I tell these guys right from the start, you have to hit your mark.” How do they even see their marks through the pools of gore? “It’s difficult. They put marks on the floor and it matters because that’s where you’re lit and that’s where you’re focused. So, I think more than anything, they had to learn the technical side of it. How important the technical side is. And making shows like this is way more technical than the average, sit down at the kitchen table, have a talk type TV show. Understand. That’s really important. So of anything of the new actors, it’s just pay attention. Keep up.”
We wondered how this huge and horrifying adventure will play out in tiny-town Elk Grove, Michigan. I mean… are the local yokels uploading videos of the demons to Snapchat? Is the rest of the world aware of what’s going on? “The genie’s out of the box this season, so…” Campbell says, implying there could be some of that. “Ash cleaned up the town. By the end of season two it’s done. Game over for real. The town is good again. So it has to go off the rails again – of course it will. So that’s the first order of business is to not let be what you think it’s going to be.”
One of the most memorable – or nauseating depending on your gross-out threshold – scenes from Season 2 was when Ash butted heads, so to speak, with a corpse in the morgue and wound up fighting its reanimated colon. We just had to ask if there was ever a question of trying to top that in Season 3.
“Well, there’s something in season 3 that’s probably right up there,” Campbell obliged. “But the goal is not to engage in that game because that’s a losing game of, ‘Can you top this, is it just about gross?’ It’s really about story at the end of the day, so as long as you work out the story, if along the way of a good story, you have strange events that take place, that’s great. But events do not a story make. So we’re gonna focus more on the story.”
In sum, Campbell said, “The rest of the season is going to focus on the mythology of why Ash is The Chosen One. Why was he chosen to defend the earth from the dead and from these demons? We’re gonna pay some crap off. There’s gonna be a big boom ending.”
Look for Season 3 to premiere on February 25th at 9PM ET/PT.
“Ash vs. Evil Dead” is led by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) in the role of Ash Williams; Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) as Ruby; Ray Santiago (“Touch,” Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, Ash’s loyal sidekick; Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell co-star alongside newcomers Arielle Carver-O’Neill and Lindsay Ferris. Lee Majors returns as Brock Williams to warn Ash from beyond the grave.
The third season finds Ash’s status in Elk Grove, Michigan, has changed from murderous urban legend to humanity-saving hometown hero. When Kelly witnesses a televised massacre with Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns with a new friend to warn Ash and Pablo that evil isn’t done with them yet. Blood is thicker than water in the battle of good vs. Evil Dead!