Bruce Campbell returns as Ash this Sunday in the premiere of Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 on STARZ, and he couldn't be more excited for fans to check it out. Having seen the first two episodes, I can tell Daily Dead readers that the series continues to deliver great character moments and over-the-top horror at the breakneck pace we saw in season 1. We get to learn more about the time between Army of Darkness and Ash vs Evil Dead when Ash goes back home, we're introduced to brand new characters (including Ash's father), and the second episode has Ash in his most outrageous battle to date (and that's saying a lot...).
While he was out at Fantastic Fest, I had a chance to catch up with Bruce Campbell to discuss all things Ash vs Evil Dead. Continue reading to learn about exploring Ash's past, working with Lee Majors, interest in future seasons, and a book sequel to If Chins Could Kill:
I've had a chance to see the first two season 2 episodes and I know fans will be really happy. Was it easier to jump into this new season, knowing that fans embraced the new characters and the return of Ash?
Bruce Campbell: We're excited for the second season. I'm of the opinion that it's better than the first season, because you start to have your stride and figure things out. The actors start getting used to each other, and you never know if you're going to fail the chemistry test with each other... or if the actors are going to be idiots. We were very fortunate, and I call them veterans now, at the end of two seasons. They've earned their stripes.
How involved were you in the creative layout of season 2? Did you offer your input right from the beginning, as you received the scripts, or a mix of both?
Bruce Campbell: It's sort of all of the above. I'll participate in some of the big picture ideas, because I'm very concerned about the overall story. With a TV show, you have to show a bigger universe. This season, I'm really excited because Ash goes home. Ash is like a teacher, you never see him after school...
So we finally get to see a more personal side of Ash and meet his dysfunctional family. He goes back to his hometown and they don't really want him. He's an urban legend now, and not the good kind. So that's a fun dynamic—on top of him trying to save the world, his town hates him at the same time.
It seems like Ash got five minutes of happiness and that was it.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, that's it. He doesn't get much. Ash is destined for a life of hurt.
Can you talk about working with Lee Majors? It seems like he was the perfect choice to play Ash's father.
Bruce Campbell: You want the persona that goes with Lee Majors. He was a player and a ladies' man, so that's what we want. And there's the whole bionic side, we had a little fun with the bionic thing. He was a great addition because he's such an old pro. The guy's been on television for thirty years on and off. He worked out great, and was a great addition.
He's never done much horror. Oddly enough, in 1963, he was in Strait-Jacket with Joan Crawford. It was a black-and-white movie. He gets his head chopped off in the opening scene. It's very obscure. He's in one scene and he gets killed. So I thought it was pretty fun. He's back to horror, but it's all pretty new to him.
Now that you have two seasons under your belt, do you prefer this format to shooting the Evil Dead movies?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, the TV format wins out in my mind, but it's the combination that we have. It's not just TV, it's what STARZ is offering. When we pitched this around town, we did have multiple interested suitors who were considering this, and one of the questions we asked was, "What are the content restrictions?" And the suitors from cable said this and that, and the suitors from broadcast said this and that. Well, this is a paid subscription, so there's no restriction. You're a willing participant in whatever they want to show you. The first two Evil Dead movies had no rating, which is important, because the fans want unrestricted content.
They want it to be in-your-face and full on, and the only way to do that was with STARZ. We realized how fortunate we were to go with them. And now we can do it uninterrupted, and the half hour is a solid half hour. It's not twenty-two minutes, it's not interrupted by commercials, and the writers don't have to create a structure that is servicing commercials rather than your story. It's just very liberating. It was Rob Tapert's idea to do the half hour and I think it was a good idea, because at an hour it could not be the same show.
There hasn't been an official announcement yet, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing more seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead. How many seasons would you like to see this go?
Bruce Campbell: I'll take five. No one's gonna burn out at five. I got this a lot, "Hey, so Burn Notice ran, like, five seasons right?" I'm like, “No, it ran seven.” They were like, "Oh, oh." And what it really meant was they stopped watching after five. And every shows has a burnout factor. The cast burns out, the show gets too expensive, writers run out of ideas, viewership declines. Every show has its arc.
We want to end strong, and I want to put together a multiple year plan so that the writers know where this is going, the actors know where it's going, and the studio knows where it's going. Everyone should know where everything is going all the time, in my opinion.
More than 30 years after first playing Ash, are you enjoying finding new sides to the character and exploring his past in the TV series?
Bruce Campbell: We can now start to get into a little more of Ash's place in the world. Ash is foretold in an ancient book, there's a picture of him. So it's a chance to do a little more of the Joseph Campbell thing now. What is his purpose? Why, now, is he being called back? He's an old geezer, and he's got to save the world. What is behind all this? I never knew I'd be this interested in playing Ash for that long of a period of time. I'm gonna explore the hell out of him now, and find every side that you can to him. Why not? You’ve got the time now.
I know there are some rights issues, but do you have interest in trying to bring the world of the new Evil Dead and Army of Darkness into Ash vs Evil Dead? Is Mia and Ash together something that we'll see?
Bruce Campbell: You could, you’ve got the old geezer and the young whipper-snapper, and they form a his-and-her ass-kickery. So none of this is impossible, the fact that we got this back on the air is fairly miraculous from a legal standpoint. All three movies were made from a different company.
Now that that's done, there may be a retroactive interest in movies again. Everyone wonders why there weren't more Evil Dead movies and the answer is just simple as hell: Army of Darkness bombed. It [cost] $13 million dollars [to make] and it made $13 million. That's not good math. It was only the advent of the DVDs, the making-of, the missing scenes, watching the sausage being made, that brought a lot of the stuff back to Anchor Bay Entertainment, which is now owned by STARZ. It all worked out pretty well, but it took a while for the thing to regain enough popularity [to show] that people still wanted it.
Aside from Ash vs Evil Dead, I know that you're working on a follow-up to If Chins Could Kill. Does it have a title yet?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, it's called Hail to the Chin. I realize it's been fifteen years since the first book, and there's been a lot of crazy stuff I've been involved with: going to Iraq in ’09 to see the troops, making movies in Columbia. There are a lot more stories to tell, so that's coming out from St Martin's Press probably around August of next year. And I'll do a three-month tour to support it, so I'll be hitting small-town USA next year for sure.
Can you leave our readers with a tease of what's coming up in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2?
Bruce Campbell: Boy, it's just gonna get gnarly as hell. One episode that's pretty cool is the one I call "Ash Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and I'll leave it at that.
[Spoiler Warning] I have to ask you about the morgue scene in episode 2, which has to be the most outrageous thing I've seen Ash involved with. Can you talk about how this scene came about and how you reacted when you first read it?
Bruce Campbell: It actually got expanded when we started shooting it. Rob Tapert was like, "No, that's not enough. We have to go further." I'm like, “What does ‘further’ mean?” He goes, "I think you know what I mean." I'm like, "No. Tell me." So it kind of evolved into that. Sometimes you’ve got to do that to your lead character, but that's what makes that fun. How many other leading men can get pulled through a cadaver's butt?
Yeah, it's insane. It makes you laugh and want to gag. Not many people would have said “yes” to filming that scene.
Bruce Campbell: I've got that on my résumé now. You gotta torture Ash, unfortunately. That's one of the MOs of this series, is that your lead character has to suffer horribly.
In case you missed it, check out our previous Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 coverage, including our special Evil Dead issue of DEADLY Magazine: