ASH VS. EVIL DEAD: An Exclusive Look and Interview with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert
The highly anticipated show, Ash vs. Evil Dead is slowly, but surely making its way to our televisions. Debuting on Starz sometime this fall, everything Ash vs. Evil Dead has been kept pretty secret. Luckily for fans that are craving for that little bit of information to tide them over, we got you covered! Production on the show has started, so the masterminds behind the show would like to give us fans a little sneak peak as to what’s to come. Agents of Geek partook in an exclusive conference call with director/producer, Sam Raimi, executive producer, Rob Taper, and the man of the hour, Bruce Campbell himself. Various outlets got to ask an array of fascinating and very insightful questions that we think you’ll love! They talked about what the show has to offer, what characters we’ll, as well as whether the Deadites are the only thing to avoid.
Matt Fowler (From IGN): What can we expect from this series tonally? Would it be more in line with sort of the comedic elements of Army of Darkness or is it sort of more hard-line horror? Or a mix of both?
Bruce Campbell: That’s a great question for Sam.
Sam Raimi: Okay, Bruce. It’s a mix of both. We have elements of the Evil dead films, which have always — like you say — have very hard edged, intense horror designed to really frighten the audience. And no holds barred there. Starz has really taken the reins off of us and allowed us to go to town and thrill the audience, chill them, and scare the heck out of them. But also, as you mentioned, there is a comedic element that is alive in this, and it’s the thing we found the audience has always liked the most about the Evil Dead movies. More and more, we seem to realize the thing that made them different was Bruce Campbell. And more and more we brought him to the forefront of the pictures. First, he was just the guy that happened to star in the movie because he was the last survivor — and our best friend and the only actor I ever worked with. But then we started to realize gee, the audience really likes this guy and he’s the thing that actually makes it special. And by the second one, it all became about him. And finally we delved into Bruce’s natural strength of — he’s got a lot of strengths, but — comedy is one of his real inner strengths as a performer. And I think the third one, Army of Darkness, really tried to capitalize on that. And the character that he had been creating over the first two, we tried to all take it a step further — my brother Ivan, Bruce, Robin, myself. Ivan was the co-writer of that one, Army of Darkness. And this third one I think what we tried to do was go back to the horror of the first and second Evil Dead, but with the character of Ash that Bruce had created, over the second and third Evil Dead. So that’s really a combination of something we haven’t quite seen before.
Brad Miska (From Bloody Disgusting): So continuing on that, will this series live in the same universe as Army of Darkness and Evil Dead? Like will we be seeing (F smart) and other locations familiar?
Rob Tapert: The answer to that question is it doesn’t really exist in the exact same universe. It’s a slightly altered universe. It takes place somewhere in an alternate universe after Evil Dead 2. That might seem like a confusing answer, but that’s the – I don’t want to spoil too much for the audience, but that’s the truest answer I can give you.
Abby Bernstein (From Assignment X): Now the universe that we’re in — or rather, the world that we’re in, has it been continually beset by the Deadites between the 80s and now? Or has Ash just been licking his wounds the whole time and this is like an unpleasant blast from the past from him?
Sam Raimi: That’s it. He’s been – the Deadites have been fairly dormant over the last 20 to 30 years. And Ash has been kind of living a low life hiding out. And our story really begins when they come back and someone is needed to stand up against them.
Christopher (From Review Fix): I just wanted to ask how does it feel to be able to have this huge sandbox to expand the Evil Dead universe and expand on the character of Ash?
Rob Tapert: Hi this is Rob. I’m just going to jump into start this, and then I’m going to hand it over to Sam. One of the reasons that it was fun to bring this to television, which is more of a character-based thing, as the series and our interests shifted from how can we entertain the audience? We realized we want to spend more time with the character of Ash, and TV is the medium that allows us to go and now do basically a season of Evil Dead which covers more ground than the three movies did in total combined time. So it really has, by going into television to tell this story and on a premium cable network, where there’s really kind of no holds barred, it allowed us to really spend time with the character Ash, spend time doing great horror, and have the unique tone that the Evil Dead movies had and with a partner that we know will be supportive in Starz. Sam, you want to add to that?
Sam Raimi: I forgot the question after that long-winded answer. Sorry.
Bruce Campbell: It’s about the sandbox, Sam, the sandbox.
Sam Raimi: The sandbox.
Bruce Campbell: The big sandbox.
Sam Raimi: How do we like the bigger sandbox? I love the opportunity to work with Bruce and Rob. I love that. And just like Bruce says, we all learned a lot. We’ve all been friends through these 30 years and now we can reapply our skills, as Bruce says, to the original project that we brought to the screen. So that’s the best part. The bigger sandbox is actually the worrisome part. How will these new writers, how will the new actors, new technicians, new directors and producers continue to tell the story? It’s hard to let go of complete control of something that’s so close to us. So the bigger sandbox part is the part that scares me, actually. But I will say I’ve had great collaborators in my brother Ivan, a writer, and our new show runner Craig DiGregorio, who’s done a great job, his right hand man, (Rob Wright), another great writer. And there’s a whole bunch of — I won’t name them all but — writers in the room, they really seem to be fans of Bruce and they love horror. And they seem to be the right mix for the show. But it’s that bigger sandbox part that’s the scariest part for me when something you’ve held so close to you, like your child, sending him off to kindergarten. It feels like that a little bit. You trust in them a little bit with other great creators, other great writers, great directors, but still you have to trust your child a little bit with another and as a mother it can be disconcerting, just because of the unknown.
Samuel Zimmerman (From Shock Till You Drop): Wondering right now, we’re seeing a lot of really terrific makeup effects on television, and television is pushing a lot of boundaries with those effects and the gore. Kind of in the tradition of the Evil Dead films, I’m wondering will the show – does the TV show allow you the space to have a lot of great effects on it?
Rob Tapert: Yes, we absolutely want to continue the Evil Dead tradition. We’re working with a great makeup effects artist down in New Zealand called (Roger Murray). We worked with him on various things over the years, and, you know, that’s one of the expectations from the franchise — of makeup effects, gore effects. So absolutely we plan to have those and to continue on with what the audience expects from the franchise in yet a new and different way.
Bruce Campbell: And I’ll add to that also. This is not going to be a watered down version of Evil Dead. The very first Evil Dead has no rating. The second Evil Dead has no rating. Only Army of Darkness was the only one that was ever rated. So thankfully, by partnering with Starz, the gloves are off and we have no restrictions — almost literally. And that’s going to suit the Evil Dead fan because they don’t like it watered down. They want the hardcore stuff and they’re going to get it.
Hailey Fouch (From Collider): You’ve talked a lot about how you’re expanding the world of Evil Dead with the show. Can you talk about the new characters that are going to be populating in this world with Ash?
Sam Raimi: Yes. Ash is going to make friends and enemies in the show, and we’re going to be introducing them. I’m wondering how much I should say about the characters that won’t give away stuff.
Rob Tapert: I think you can talk through who’s in it.
Sam Raimi: Okay will you go through our cast and tell them a little bit about them for me, Robbie?
Rob Tapert: Well the cast – so Ash on this incarnation has a team that forms around him. Pablo, a young immigrant who wants to be part of the American fabric and forget his roots, and through his encounters with Ash and the Evil Dead, rediscovers what really is important to him. He’s played by Ray Santiago.
Bruce Campbell: That’s Pablo Simon Bolivar.
Rob Tapert: Another character in this is Dana DeLorenzo, who plays the character of Kelly. She is a wonderful comedian and actress. She had her own – well she’s part of a radio show that played for years that was very successful as another character, another name.
Sam Raimi: Kelly Maxwell.
Rob Tapert: Kelly Maxwell, and she is I’m going to say Pablo’s love interest. She at first doesn’t believe in Ash and wants nothing to do with him but eventually becomes part of the team as the go about realizing that there is something greater at play in a series of Evil Dead-like attacks. They are joined by Jill Marie Jones, who plays the part of Amanda Fisher, a police officer who sees something that she doesn’t believe and it causes her great problems in her profession. And she is on the trail to hunt down Ash because she believes that he is responsible for this series of bodies.
Bruce Campbell: She’s a Michigan State Police Detective.
Rob Tapert: As a Michigan State Police Detective. And eventually she teams up with Ruby, played by Lucy Lawless, who is – she knows something about the Evil Dead and she also is on the hunt for Ash. And so kind of that is the core team over the first season. And there’s many other side characters who come and go, but that’s the core team for the first season.
Bruce Campbell: And I have to say, I’m excited for all off these actors. Ray and Dana have experience. They’ve been around. But this is a – they’re still young, enthusiastic actors. And it’s really great to have that going in. And the great Lucy Lawless, who I worked with back in the Xena days and, you know, I’ve acted with her and directed her and you know, when she came onboard, that was such an added plus because we know what we’re getting with her, which is something great usually.
Sam Raimi: Yes, she’s always been a brilliant actress. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her just on one day on the original Spiderman picture. I mean as a director. And I loved it. And I’m really looking forward to introducing her in this pilot episode. I can’t wait to work with her in finally a substantial role.
Agents of Geek: I just wanted to know, with the Evil Dead soundtracks, they’re pretty iconic. With the new Ash vs Evil Dead, will we get to see a brand new soundtrack and if so, would we see any familiar faces like Joseph LoDuca return to make it?
Rob Tapert: Yes, Joe LoDuca will be doing the soundtrack on this. We’re also working with something we really haven’t done on the Evil Dead. We’re working with some older classic rock music from the 70s and early 80s because of course Ash became stunted due to the developments in his life at that time and has never gone past those moments. So…
Sam Raimi: We’ll also be working with some older generation talent in post-production, like the older gentleman Bob Murawski is going to be editing this pilot episode. And he cut the original Army of Darkness. So a lot…
Bruce Campbell: And I believe Bob has since won an Academy Award for Hurt Locker.
Sam Raimi: So yes, the answer is we will be doing that and we will be taking old sound, old music and rebending it and shaping it in a new fashion. But yes, it’ll definitely…
Rob Tapert: And old timers like Bob Murawski.