Easily one of the best new television series of this year is Ash vs Evil Dead which airs every Saturday night at 9:00pm EST/8:00pm CST on the Starz Network. The show follows iconic anti-hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) on more of his Deadite-related misadventures, but this time he’s got some company with him in the form of fellow co-workers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenza), as well as Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), a police detective who initially thinks Ash is a "bad guy" but quickly realizes he’s humanity’s last hope against the evil forces taking over.
Earlier this week, Daily Dead had the opportunity to chat with Jones about her character Amanda and how she has evolved in the series so far. Jones also discussed her initial thoughts on joining Ash vs Evil Dead, how her character has changed her as a performer and how Raimi revels in initiating all the cast in his own "blood ritual."
One thing I think is really great about Ash vs Evil Dead is that, as the series has gone on, it's become more than just a fun, splattery kind of show. There are real stakes, there are real characters, despite the fact that everything is so heightened and meant to be so much fun, too. When you were first approached for Ash, was that appealing to you, that it wasn't just about the horror, the crazy violence, and that madcap energy?
Jill Marie Jones: Absolutely and that's 100% true. Did I know that going into it? Not at all [laughs]. They had such a tight grip on the actual script because they didn't want it to be leaked, so when everyone was reading for their particular part, you only had your sides.
But I took it based on Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead movies, and another major reason was I just loved Amanda so much. I just loved how smart and strong she was and how she unapologetically goes after what she believes. She's one of the good guys and she's going after the truth. That's really what drew me to it.
For Amanda, it seems like before these last few episodes, everything was sort of black-and-white for her—or even just good versus bad. Now because of what she's seen and what she's heard from Lucy Lawless' character and now from Ash, suddenly her whole world is completely turned upside down after last week and things are far more complicated for her.
Jill Marie Jones: Oh yeah. In this last episode, clearly I join Team Ash at the end because that was the first time I actually saw that Ash wasn’t the enemy. Of course, Kelly—Dana's character—tried to tell me that Ash is a good guy, but I couldn’t see past everything at that point. But this last episode was the first time that Amanda really saw that, while Ash is a nutcase—that's very clear—he's not the bad guy she should be fighting against.
It's such an interesting journey. Oftentimes as an actor you might get one role that, I don't want to say defines your career, but my god, I got so lucky to be able to play this particular role. I'm just so stoked.
When you're going through a role like this, where there's a real arc and real challenges beyond just the acting aspect of the character, how much does that end up changing you as a performer as you go through this process?
Jill Marie Jones: I don't know about changing me, but there have been things that I have learned about myself. And it’s always lovely when you can learn something new about yourself. I've said this before but, back when I was on Girlfriends, me booking that job was a real shock to me because I'd never studied comedic acting before. I'd only studied dramatic acting and so I didn't know I was funny. That was something I learned about myself and it opened a huge door for me in terms of that world, too.
With Ash, I'd never done action stuff before and I didn't know how much I loved it until now. I took arms training and we have a great stunts department too. I already box in my life, so I have some fighting skills already, but then I also learned some MMA stuff, which was great. Every bruise that I got was a badge of honor and I could have told you exactly what day, what time each of the bruises I got on set were for. It was like a badge of honor and I was so excited and proud.
In that same respect, Ash as a series is like that too, because it isn't just a one-trick pony. It's a horror show, but there are so many different components to it in terms of the humor and the action. It is this very unusual beast compared to anything else that's on TV right now.
Jill Marie Jones: I definitely agree. It's funny because—again, I only had my sides for Amanda at first—I didn't have the script initially because they kept it under lock and key and so I thought on my appointment sheet when it said it was a comedy, I thought that was a typo.
At first glance, there was nothing that was on that page for Amanda that was funny at all. I can find a joke on a page, let's be very clear about it, but I was like, "I don't see the jokes." I was like, "This must clearly be a typo" [laughs]. And then, I was like, “And it's a half hour? God, that has got to be a typo.” I really thought, "Clearly this is an hour drama," based on what I was reading for Amanda. But nope, it's really witty and funny and scary at the same time and we're having a blast.
The Evil Dead series is infamous for torturing Bruce with copious amounts of blood and goo and gore and we see Amanda kind of get her first dose in this last episode. Was that a rite of passage for you in the Evil Dead universe?
Jill Marie Jones: Oh yeah, I got it really good in this last episode. You didn't end up seeing the spray machine and how much blood it was really spraying at me in it though; you only get a taste, but it was really crazy.
With the amount of blood we use, it is a character on this show. I got it pretty good the first episode and it's like this thing with Sam [Raimi], where you feel like that's his initiation to join the club. At some point he will douse you with blood. It's almost like he's having so much fun with it, but then in some ways, he makes you feel like it hurts him more than it's hurting you to be doused with all of this fake blood. But he really is like a kid with all the blood and we try to make sure we give the fans as much of it as we can.
Next Ash vs Evil Dead Episode (107) – Fire In The Hole: "Ash, Pablo and Kelly, now joined by Fisher, arrive at the survivalist camp in the midst of chaos and must go to extreme measures to escape. Meanwhile, more is revealed of Ruby’s mission."
Directed by Michael Hurst, "Fire In The Hole" airs Saturday, December 12th at 9:00pm EST on Starz.