If you ever get the opportunity to hear actress Dana DeLorenzo speak about anything related to her experiences on Ash vs Evil Dead, her pure joy and graciousness—as well as her infectious enthusiasm—are evident from the very first syllable out of her mouth. I’ve been fortunate to speak with her on several occasions now, but this most recent interview at the 2016 Fantastic Fest might be my all-time favorite chat with her.
During the interview, DeLorenzo discussed how we’re going to see her character Kelly rebel over the course of Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2, and how she had the opportunity to explore the father/daughter dynamic between Ash and Kelly. DeLorenzo also talked about how thrilled she was to work more closely with Lucy Lawless (whom she nicknamed “Lucy Flawless”) for this second season.
Look for Ash vs Evil Dead season 2 to kick off on Sunday, October 2nd on Starz at 8:00pm ET.
Kelly definitely has had quite an evolution as a character since we first met her at the beginning of Ash vs Evil Dead. Has playing around with her evolution surprised you as an actress at all?
Dana DeLorenzo: That's a great question. What I think is the biggest surprise is that the journey that she goes on is not one that you would expect. Especially because she was someone who got dragged into this fight against evil and was completely tormented in season 1. From her mother coming back from the dead, putting a fork through her father's eye, to Kelly getting possessed and all the stuff at the cabin—it was insane.
So she does have a lot of pent-up rage at the start of season 2, and she has just one mission, which is revenge. As you know, sometimes when people are just out for revenge, it can cloud their judgment and it can blind them from what else is happening around them. Revenge, in the end, doesn't really do anybody any good, but at least in this case, why we root for Kelly to get revenge, is because in the end, if she gets revenge, good triumphs over evil.
The biggest surprise is she then strays a little bit from the coop. Kelly is like the daughter that Ash never had, and he's alluded to that, and they're more alike than either would care to admit. What I find interesting this season is that you see them get closer in a lot of ways, you see they get to have quite a few scenes together, doing what they do best. Then you also get to see them butt heads, even more than in season 1, and when they butt heads, they butt hard. In that world of a daughter, or a father-like figure, she gives him the middle finger, she rebels a bit, because he's not staying on track. He's going back home, and then meeting up with his old buddy Chet and getting drunk.
That's the Ash Williams that we know and love, but for Kelly, now that she's got this mission, that's all that she cares about. She teams up with Ruby, which is a surprise, but then what happens after that, is this journey in which she forges her own path. It's her journey, and her forging of her own path, and what that means for her was the biggest surprise for me, playing the role.
One of the more fun aspects of The Evil Dead movies and now Ash vs Evil Dead has been seeing Bruce with his goofball, buffoonish, machismo approach to these scenarios. And what’s been really cool about Ash vs Evil Dead as it has gone on, is seeing how strong female characters like Kelly and Ruby [Lucy Lawless] contend with those same forces. It gives a different perspective for fans of the universe. Has it been fun for you to be a part of that, and since you mentioned that Kelly teams up with Ruby, how much did you enjoy working more closely with Lucy this season?
Dana DeLorenzo: Lucy is a pioneer of the strong female TV character, or at least the reason we saw a resurgence of them in the ’90s. You touched upon a couple of things. Number one, it’s a testament to the creators, and hats off to them for having the foresight of, "If we're going to bring Ash Williams, with a very antiquated and skewed view on life, into the present day on a TV show, we need a strong female character who can put him in his place, and go toe-to-toe with him while also being on his side." That's number one.
Number two is the fact that we need strong, kickass female characters in every genre, horror especially, because we can't always just be the ones running naked in the woods with tree branches coming after us. I commend when they write a good character on any genre, on any show. Especially on this show, the fact that Kelly's nuanced also helps; she feels like a real person. She's not just some gun-toting Annie Oakley, but she's also not the dumb, blonde bimbo who doesn't know any better. She is a normal person who often shows her fear, and because of that, she is living right there with the audience, too.
She’s never afraid to fight through that fear, though, to be a better, evil ass-kicker, and that is very cool, because I like heroes that show their vulnerabilities and their realness. Then you relate to them better. That's why I can relate to Kelly, because I've been afraid many times in my life, and you get inspired by watching someone have to conquer that and keep going and fail sometimes.
Now, in terms of getting to work with the incredible woman, as I call her, “Lucy Flawless,” which, fun fact, her middle name is “Francis.” Because I was calling her Lucy Flawless, one day we were getting ready in makeup and she mumbled something under her breath to the makeup artist, which I didn’t hear. He asked me, "Did you hear what she said?" I said, "No." He's like, "Tell her, Lucy." She said, "My middle name is Francis." I go, "Now's a good time to tell you I've been stealing your credit card” [laughs]. But legitimately, her credit card says “Lucy Flawless.”
She's not only stunningly beautiful on the outside, and an incredible actor, but from the inside out, she has been such an inspiration to me, in terms of acting, but also in life. First of all, this woman is one those annoying people that is just good at everything, she's like a savant, to the point where she is fluent in many different languages and is currently teaching me Italian. But she has also taught me so much about grace, about how to carry yourself on set, about how to act, but still be fun and mischievous. The fact that I’m getting to be there in the woods, fighting along with Xena, still blows my mind. I really try not to think about it too much when I’m there, because it has been the same with Bruce, and the same with Lee Majors this season, where there are those moments where you get a little bit tingly, a little starstruck, even though you're there every day and part of the same team.
Before Ray and I started chatting earlier, he mentioned how this show came out of nowhere for you guys. He mentioned you were still working at a bar three weeks before this even happened. Has everything been just surreal since then for you?
Dana DeLorenzo: Oh yeah, I was working at the bar when I got this audition, and had to be there until closing at 2:00am. I had to be at this audition at 10:00 am, which means I had to get up at 7:00 am, and in LA, it takes two hours to drive anywhere in rush hour. So I had to memorize my lines in the car, on the way to the audition, and thankfully I had recorded my lines the night before. I was listening to them in the car, went in, and did it. It was the quickest audition, in terms of I've had one line on a TV show, and I've had seventeen auditions and callbacks. This, I had an audition, a callback, and next thing you know, I'm with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, screen testing.
And every day I'm grateful, because I had to work very, very hard, and I went through a lot of tough knocks to get where I am now. It's not like it was handed to me by any means, but the fact that it even happened is amazing. I know how this business works, and just because you work hard, and you might have a little talent, does not mean that you will get a job. There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful, and also the fact that I get to work on the show, like you said, with a built-in fanbase that has accepted new characters, with something that has been led by one incredible man, this lone wolf character. The fact that I get to go to work every day, and either be covered in some goo, or blood, or viscera, and then also get to play in the genres of action, comedy, horror, and drama, and shoot in New Zealand, is something that comes along once in a lifetime.
I have a dream job on a dream show, with the best fanbase and the best network. At the end of the day, I will throw blood on myself if I have to, to keep doing this for as long as they'll have me, because I'm having the time of my life, and I'm just so grateful to all of them. If there's one thing I can pass on to anyone it’s this: keep going, my friends. Keep going, even when you're closing the bar until 2:00am, because you never know when that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell audition is going to happen one day.
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: