Over the weekend at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, Daily Dead had the opportunity to catch up with Ash vs Evil Dead executive producer Rob Tapert and both Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless to talk about what we can expect from the show’s second season, which kicks off this October.
During our interviews, Campbell discussed digging deeper into his iconic character Ash Williams in the highly successful Starz series, why his anti-hero won’t ever find happiness, and how Season 2 will top its predecessor in blood-soaked mayhem. Lawless talked about the evolution of her character, Ruby, and Tapert gave us the lowdown on whether or not fans will ever see another Evil Dead film, and also chatted about the challenges that come with creating a weekly television show versus a singular movie.
Look for more on Ash vs Evil Dead later this week in Comic-Con interviews with co-stars Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and legendary actor Lee Majors, who joins the second season as Ash’s estranged dad, Brock Williams.
Rob, with Season 2 and the continued success of the show, does the focus remain on doing more seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead as opposed to trying to do another movie at some point?
Rob Tapert: Yes. The focus is on more seasons of the show. Sam [Raimi], bless him, talked about doing Evil Dead as a movie for many, many years and teased the fans forever and a day. Finally, when the day came, we went, "Well, we think it might be better as a TV show." There were other people who thought that, too, and Bruce really welcomed the idea and I welcomed the idea. Because Bruce said, "Look, I did three movies, but at least in a TV show, I get to explore the character and who he is and all that." Is there a movie out there that we are thinking about that would continue on that [and] would merge everything? There certainly is that—but those thoughts are just starting to percolate. There are a lot of possibilities out there.
Speaking to that, would you ever entertain the idea of cross-pollinating Ash vs Evil Dead with Fede’s [Alvarez] Evil Dead movie in the future?
Rob Tapert: [Silence]
Well, all right then [laughs].
Lucy Lawless: Wow, these are serious people who are serious about the show [laughs].
Rob Tapert: You know what? They are serious. They should be serious. To answer that the best I can, I will say that I love Jane Levy, so I would always love the opportunity to work with her again.
Lucy, your character essentially let Pandora's box be opened upon the world last season. How will we see it affect this upcoming season?
Lucy Lawless: Well, things get away on her. She's basically forced Pablo to birth these demon spawn and it all goes to shit. She needs to get things back on track, so she works her way into Ash's crew and at a certain point, even teams up a little bit with Kelly. They go on a rampage—it’s a little girl power.
So she's kind of brought into the fold, which means that you get shot with a lot more mucus, a lot more blood, and you get vomited on repeatedly. That means you're in the game and you're in the family. We'll see how that goes, but she does become a real character this season.
What has been the biggest surprise for each of you while filming either season of Ash vs Evil Dead?
Rob Tapert: I can say from [the] creative point of view, the show was harder than I ever thought it would be. And I think we were all surprised that it was hard adapting these small movies into television shows where you want to cram as much as you can in a half hour. So there was a real clash of what works on horror, which was telling a small story in a very elongated fashion, as opposed to a big story in a compacted fashion. That's been a creative challenge for all of us.
Lucy Lawless: Particularly, this season is so massive, it's so high-octane. The cuts are really fast. So we're shooting as much—maybe more—footage than we ever did on even Spartacus, right? But it's crunched down to get their pace. If this show was an hour long, it would be drudgery. It would lose that special something it's got, so I think for me, it’s that pace.
Bruce, every time that you have played Ash for a movie, you had the three or four months of shooting, and then it was years before the next one. Now you’ve done two seasons in a row, where you’re spending more time with Ash than ever. Do you enjoy this process more than you did with the films?
Bruce Campbell: We did one in the ’70s, one in the ’80s, and one in the ’90s, and then we skipped a whole decade, in fact. So yeah, it's awesome. I wish we could have done this a long time ago, because that's the only way you can get to really inhabit a character. It's not making a movie every decade, it’s working at them every day for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, season after season. I hope we get five seasons out of this, because there's so much I feel like we can do with the character of Ash that fans have yet to see from him.
So what can fans expect from Ash for this second season?
Bruce Campbell: Well, this season it gets personal. Ash has to go back home. The Evil Dead, they are like the Mafia, because they hit you where you live. They go after your family. He's got to go clean up this town of Elk Grove, Michigan, which is why we're introducing the character of Ash's father, Brock Williams, played by the great Lee Majors, and Ash's high school buddy Chet Kaminski, played by Ted Raimi. You know, Ted plays an idiot because he's so good at it, and I always use Ted because that way my acting looks subtle [laughs].
Is Ash a guy who will ever find happiness? Or is he always doomed to this path?
Bruce Campbell: Why does he have to? He's God's tormented character. The audience would get bored if he did. Look, beginning of this first episode back, you see he's as happy as he's going to get, [and] you go, "Okay, is that it?" How much beer can you drink? The answer is a lot, but you know what I mean.
Look, he's the Chosen One. He's the average schmoe, but he is foretold in the Book of the Dead, so there's more to Ash than meets the eye. His job isn't necessarily to be the guy lying on the lounge chair. His job is to be the guy that saved the world.
It was a record amount of blood used in the first season. Are you guys topping that in the second season?
Bruce Campbell: I think we did, because there are more characters to get it this time around. Lee Majors had his first experience with blood, and he's like, "What the hell is this?" You can't predict what it's going to be like if you've never done it before. I know what it's like to get slimed, so it's a big eye-opener that first time you get nailed. But yeah, we had more characters, more opportunities to bloody them all, so we went for it.
Even before Season 1 aired, you already knew that Season 2 was green-lit.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, nice trick, huh?
Very nice trick.
Bruce Campbell: That's how good we are.
I agree. So does that take off some pressure when you guys are going into Season 2, or does that actually add to it?
Bruce Campbell: No, no. It's worse, actually, because now there are expectations. It's one thing to put out a show for the very first time. You close your eyes and go, "Okay, I hope you like it." You put it out. It was very well-received. The fans were very nice to us. The critics were pretty nice to us, too, which was shocking, because the Evil Dead movies don't always get good reviews. That was the big leap.
Now Season 2, they're arms crossed going, "Where do you go?" Meaning, is it worthy of a show? Do you have enough story that you can tell? Where are you going to go with it? Do I like the way you're going with it? Do I like the characters you're adding, or how they're changing? That remains to be seen, but I think our premiere is a strong episode. I tore my hamstrings even. We all worked our butts off this season, so if you don't like it, screw you all then.
In case you missed it, watch the Ash vs Evil Dead panel and cabin booth tour from this year's Comic-Con: