Bruce Campbell is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors. From Autolycus (the King of Thieves) in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, to Jack of All Trades, and recently as Sam Axe on the USA Network series, Burn Notice, the man has done it all. But it was his role as Ash Williams in Sam Raimi’s hit Evil Dead series that made him a cult star.
It’s been thirty-one years since Campbell first opened the Necronomicon, thus changing his film career for the bloodfest best. Since then, a lot has changed in his life as he’s been in various movies and TV series. But there’s always been that urge from fans for him to return to the franchise that launched his career. Starz has heard the calls and announced that Bruce Campbell will return to the franchise, this time in the half-hour TV series, Ash vs. Evil Dead which premiered this Halloween night (it’s already been renewed for a second season). In honor of the series, The Koalition had a chance to interview Campbell.
“It’s great to get back to this character. It’s probably the most fun character there is to play. Now we can use all of our experience to bring on this character again and flesh him out even more. And, yes, (Sam) is just as cruel as he always is. It reminded me of how much I hate fake blood. That hatred, it runs deep. It runs really deep. One of my least favorite things is adhesive, surgical adhesive, and they had to use that for appliances, make up appliances, and, yes, fake blood. Because it’s chronic. It gets everywhere.”
However, Campbell doesn’t mind the newest cast members (check out our interview with Jill Marie Jones) experiencing life on the blood-soaked side.
“Now, they get part of it. Spread the love, man. Spread the blood around. And it was great to see them all being initiated. That was a wonderful experience to see the true horror and shock on their faces when they see that stuff. They just nail them. Right in your face. The reactions on each face. You could tell his expression was totally pissed. And it’s great because it works perfectly for the scene. Because when they first get hit with the blood, none of us have to act because we’re all like, ‘oh my God,’ because you act just like you would.”
When watching the pilot episode, there’s an array of new characters that inhabit Ash’s life… whether he likes it or not. Despite being with the character since 1981, there’s still a lot to explore and with time comes that essential character grown that we haven’t seen from Ash, nor knew he was capable of having. At the end of the day, Ash is human and has humans flaws. But with flaws comes improvements, which originally attracted Campbell to the character.
“We’re going to get into Ash and there will be enough about Ash that will make us want him to be our hero forever and ever for all times. And in order to do that, we have to humanize him a little bit. So I think we’ll start to see more of a leader with Ash — a little more of actual hero qualities — and, you know, the jerk stuff will still be there. Pure Ash. I mean, you’ll get that. But I mean this time around we’re going to hopefully see a likely improved Ash.
He has no special skill. He is not trained. He was not part of any government agency. Nothing. So I think when you watch him you go ‘that could be me.’ The guy that works at 7-11. I mean I could do that. Why not? I’m sick of over trained heroes. I’m really bored with that. Guys that are just ripped to shreds and, you know, full of skills. That’s boring to me. Give me the drive mechanic that picks up a weapon, you know. Now I’m interested. That’s my hero.
People have only seen four and a half hours worth of Ash. In this first season alone, we’re going to do five new hours of Ash. So I’m actually looking forward to finally seeing how Ash is going to interact with other people now. He has to be a leader. So it’s a slightly different story in that the character has to evolve. The story has to get bigger. And I’m looking forward to that so that I can take enough time to finally be with Ash. It’s Ash getting out in the wild, you know, getting into suburbia. So that’s the fun thing to do is interact with other people.”
This time around Ash is joined by the infamous Lucy Lawless who plays Ruby Knowby (daughter of Raymond Knowby, the voice on the tape recorder in the very first Evil Dead). Other than that, we don’t know much about Ruby, and she barely makes an appearance in the series’ first two episodes. But Campbell promises she’s a must-watch character this season.
“She’s a badass. She’s a great addition to the show. She can step in and do anything we need her to do, which is spectacular. She’s a great actress with an incredible amount of versatility. She can do comedy, which is great, and she can kick ass. So we’re lucky, lucky, lucky. So I think you can look forward to her having an increasingly expanding role in this show and that’s critical to me because I’ve always loved (Lucy). She was great when I worked with her on Xena and knowing that she was available — she wasn’t available right away during this first season — so when she was, I was like, her husband’s (Rob Tapert) my partner, I said ‘(Rob) you better sit down with your wife at dinner and you better lock this in.’ So, yes, it’s important to get her back. We’re really happy. Lucky.”
Unlike the previous movies, this time around Ash is hiding away in a small town but in true Ash fashion, his actions have repercussions. Not only for Ash, but for the townsfolk who need to decide whether they will fight with Ash or run like hell away from him. For the few that do stay, they turn to Ash as a leader, something we’ve never really seen him embrace.
“Ash is going to be, you know, he’s always sort of a pronounced character and he’s always going to have his quirks. But, yes, he has to be a leader. The other people in this show around him have to see something in him to make them to follow him on this quest. They obviously need to because of what’s going to happen to them; they will have a personal stake in this well. So but, yes, Ash has to be a guy who you can actually sit down and reason with from time to time and try to convince him of something. Yes, there’s a lot of decision making to be done and he will have to involve other people against his will.”
Between the blood and gore, guts and glory; Ash Williams looks like he’ll be taking Starz by storm…or chainsaw.