This past weekend, Ash vs Evil Dead took over this year’s New York Comic-Con. The Starz series proudly displayed their season 3 premiere date, 2/25/18, on a sign by their fan experience. That was set up outside the Javits Center the entire 4 days, allowing fans to walk through a replica set and create GIFs of them fighting deadites. On Saturday, they took to Hammerstein Ballroom, where stars Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Arielle Carver-O’Neill, and Lindsay Farris treated fans to a special sneak peek of the season 3 premiere and conducted a panel discussion and Q&A. They were back at Javits later in the day signing autographs and taking photos. The highlight for me was joining a press roundtable where we got to speak to the cast members of the series about their experiences on the upcoming season.
Check out the interview with Bruce Campbell here below.
First up, was the man, the myth, the legend himself… Bruce Campbell. Campbell has been playing Ash Williams for 38 years, since Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead was made back in the late 1970s. Campbell is a pop-culture icon and self professed B-actor who is currently in the third month of 30+ city book tour with his latest bestseller, Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. Ash ended season 2 a hero, but things get dicey for him in season 3, especially with the realization that he is a father.
Question: So, how’s your day been?
Bruce Campbell: Fine so far, they keep us little hamsters on the wheel.
Question: I spoke to you before the season 1 premiere, and again before season 2 and you keep saying how important it is for the show to be good, and so far it’s been great. How is this season different than the other two?
Bruce Campbell: This season’s a game changer though. I think it’s better than the other two seasons, it’s the strongest season. Because it’ll blow your heads off, episodes 9 & 10. They will blow your head off story wise and they’re huge, like f*cking epic, we got tanks and sh*t. It’s going down.
Question: I wanted to ask about the characterization of Ash from the Evil Dead films to the show. In the show I feel he comes off as a womanizer, he has a childish approach to things, he’s very egotistical…
Bruce Campbell: You’re accurate in all of those assessments.
Question: Do you think those are characteristics you built in for the show or carried over from the films?
Bruce Campbell: Ash sort of morphed into what he is now. First Evil Dead he’s just like any other character in the movie. And they had another character, Scotty who was the confident one, “˜I’ll go check it out,’ “˜Give me the flashlight’… the thing was, kill that guy and then f*ck we’re left with milk toast over here. By the end of it Ash has earned his stripes. In Evil Dead 2 he’s kind of like a Vietnam veteran, he knows what not to do now. He’s not a trash talker yet. By the time we get to Army of Darkness, he’s a full blown trash talking ugly American. But that’s just how he evolved. Sam Raimi wanted to be entertained in different way by his lead character. When I act with and work for Sam, I only try to entertain him. I don’t give a sh*t about what audiences are going to think, I’m only watching him at the monitor. Is he laughing? Even with a gore scene, if Sam laughs after he yells cut, it’s good to go.
Geeks of Doom: I want to ask you about this season. I have a daughter at home and I can’t imagine how it’s going to be when she gets older. For Ash, the consummate lothario, are there going to be some more emotional and poignant moments this season?
Bruce Campbell: Guaranteed, I have a daughter. And I had to do scenes that were very hard to get through emotionally. Because it’s just so easy to conjure up. [Arielle Carver-O’Neill] looks a little bit like my daughter, so we had some weird sh*t this season. You think you’re just going to do a scene, read the script, say the words, but then you start and it’s hard. You do a take and you take it for real. That’s what we do, that’s our job. Because you have to add depth to these characters. Ash is joker, but we want to add something and expand him a little bit. Then you stop and say, “˜Sh*t, he is an okay father!’ He does give a sh*t. And then when she’s put in mortal danger you unleash the father. Ruby (Lucy Lawless) is after her. And Ruby is in full bitch bad guy mode this season. Full-on f*ck you Ruby, she’s gotta go. I’ll just put it that way.
Question: Is there any real fatherly advice you gave Arielle as an actress on set?
Bruce Campbell: Hopefully, if she just pays attention on set, I think we’re really professional. First season I told Ray and Dana that marks matter. They put marks on the floor for actors to hit. You know it’s about focus, a camera focus. They literally depends on your toes being in the right position. If you’re not in the right spot, then all that good stuff you did in that take, they can’t use. So you have to hit your marks, it’s that simple. A lot of acting is just plain fundamental. Learn your f’n lines and hit your f’n marks. If you learn your lines, then you can play around with them. If you don’t know what your lines are, then you’re going to be terrified and you’re going to say them the easiest way you can. If you know the lines, you can play them like a fiddle. That’s the idea.
Geeks of Doom: Playing off that point, you’ve been Ash for 38 years. How much freedom do you get on set with your lines?
Bruce Campbell: Lots. Lots. I come up in the morning and I give my iPad to the script supervisor and I go “˜These are the changes for today.’ There’s no phone call being made. But you know back in the old day of Brisco County Jr., if you wanted to make one change you had to make a phone call. To me, that ain’t the way to work. Writers do your thing, give it your best shot, but I’m putting the rubber on the road here. We’re executing now, it’s our turn. And if this doesn’t work for me, I gotta have the ability to do something different. I’ve warned the writers point blank, if you don’t write good stuff, don’t be surprised what you see in dailies. It’s serious, because this is my character. Either get on board or get out of the way.
Question: Aside from the writers, when we spoke before you mentioned how some directors were good and some weren’t. Did you bring back many of the same directors from season 2?
Bruce Campbell: We brought back the good ones. Mark Beasley who did a great crazy episode, episode 7 from season 2 with Ash in the asylum, he directed this first episode. Rick Jacobson who’s been with us the whole time as a director and now a producer, he does the last two big ones. These directors have a clue. Meaning they have a plan. They’re leading the actors and the crew along. They’re not scratching their heads. They know what they’re doing and know how to get it. They can talk to actors and cameramen, and deal with producers and writers. A good director is worth their weight in gold. When a director’s bad, I wonder how the f*ck they got this job, because there are people who will knife them in an alley for this job. I am constantly surprised by how good directors are some time, and by how bad they are sometimes.
Geeks of Doom: Was there any trepidation from you or the cast about the show getting its airdate? Because seasons 1 – 2 debuted in Fall, and we just finally found out that it’ll be next February.
Bruce Campbell: We live in a world of trepidation. That’s the TV world. You don’t know when you’re cancelled, you don’t know when they’re going to pick you up, what the airdate is, whether they move it. Some networks will take more time than others. We wanted to make sure, because I’ve been on shows that got cancelled in the off season and the show was written to be cancelled at that point. So you have an unsatisfying ending. We wanted to hedge our bets so we have an ending that works whether we’re cancelled or not. We did that mostly out of respect for the fans, but also as filmmakers we didn’t want to get caught in the lurch, halfway between a two-parter or a cliffhanger. We’re ready either way.
Question: Will the show continue to grow bigger?
Bruce Campbell: This season we were saving money. There are a few episodes that won’t be too over the top because 9-10 are. You gotta squeeze your budget. Every television show, the middle part of the season will calm down and get smaller. You start big and then you end big.
Geeks of Doom: Did you ever imagine after playing Ash the first time 38 years ago, that character and you by extension, would be where you are now?
Bruce Campbell: No, no actor can predict that. We don’t have that much control or power. This is just how it fell off the truck. My feeling is the less you play him the better.
Bruce ended on a question about his book and book tour, calling it “creatively satisfying” and “much more personal.”
Bruce Campbell is always Bruce Campbell. He perfectly blends a gritty professionalism with an over the top machismo. An icon with millions of fans, Campbell still treats fans and press folks with respect, and expects others to be ready and professional. He holds everyone to the same standards. He returns to play Ash in season 3 of Ash vs Evil Dead on Sunday night, February 25, 2018 only on Starz.
[Photos by Dr. Zaius for Geeks Of Doom.]
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