Evil Dead fans weren’t sure if writer/director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell would ever do anything else with the franchise after Army of Darkness in 1992. There was always talk, but this resulted in a mildly successful remake in 2013 and scattered news bits about a possible fourth entry to the original series. These ultimately came to nothing, because Raimi, Campbell and the original players still involved decided to make Ash vs. Evil Dead for television instead.
Since its premiere on Halloween 2015, the series has succeeded in satisfying old fans and rounding up new ones for the continuing adventures of Ashley “Ash” J. Williams. This pleases Campbell, who’s been attached to the character and the property for almost 35 years. In a sense, Campbell is Ash, which led to a sometimes testy, but always enjoyable conversation with Uproxx about the Evil Dead films, the show’s popularity and everyone’s plans for the second season.
What made you decide to come back to Ash and this world after 23 years?
We kept being pressured by fans to do something, so we tried and did a remake a few years ago. It was pretty well received and made some money, but it fell under the category of “close, but no cigar.” Fans were very vocal about it and said, “Yeah, that’s fine, but we want Ash and we want Sam.” So, we kept toying with making another movie. Sam makes these giant movies now, so was there really going to be a $200 million Evil Dead? I don’t think it would have fit. Rob Tapert’s done a lot of TV. I’ve done a lot of TV. So, we brought it to Sam like that. Like, “What if we did this as a TV show?” People can get way more page count than they’d ever had before from a TV show.
I loved that the pilot felt like another Evil Dead movie, but then it kept going as the series progressed.
Yeah, that’s right. Between three movies, you only get four and half hours of material. After one season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, you get five fresh hours. It’s the best we can do and the most output anyone could ever expect.
Precisely, but aside from length, Ash vs. Evil Dead pairs Ash with other people. It’s something we’ve never really seen before, and it’s refreshing.
Of course. Ash has to deal with other people now. He has to have full adult discussions with people about having to do stuff.
He’s not really good at it.
Oh no. He’s not wired that way. You know, that can be a bumpy ride, too, and that’s part of the fun.
Other than what we’ve seen, did you create a backstory to fill in the gaps for Ash?
He’s been doing jack shit! There was no backstory. There’s no backstory to do. He hasn’t been doing anything. He’s been hiding. He’s been PTSD-ing.
That’s a good point…
No, no, no. Don’t ever fall into the trap of overthinking Ash. Shoot first, think never.
True, but as Raimi has pointed out, Ash isn’t that much of a hero.
Yeah, but he’s the hero that you have. You fight with the army that you have. That’s the army that we have. At least Ash has the balls to try something. He’s not a pussy.
At the same time, does he really grow as a character? He seems to be.
Well, it’s television. There’s time for a long curve. You don’t want to march these things out too quickly. You let characters grow, you let them evolve. Our characters are going to go through everything, obviously.
You’ve got a great supporting cast, especially Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago.
They’re dual sidekicks. This first season was probably tougher on them than it was on me. They were going to have to deal with it no matter what they thought. We just made sure to pick actors we thought could bring it, both physically and mentally. That they could do humor, horror and that they were also very patient and willing to be covered with blood. There’s a lot of physical discomfort. So, they passed the test wonderfully, and people have accepted those two. Jill Marie Jones, as well, and the great Lucy Lawless. She’ll be playing a more defined role coming up.
At the beginning, people were always asking what we were doing with Ruby since she wasn’t around all that much. That’s because we had to work her in because she wasn’t available for the first half of the season. She was working on Salem. So, we sort of shoehorned her into it; that’s how bad we wanted her. Now that she’s available, we can do her proper.