It’s not every day that an actress gets to play the role of a lifetime and step into a cult classic fans have been begging for. But for Jill Marie Jones, this role became a reality when she signed on to the upcoming Starz Television series: Ash vs. Evil Dead.
Jones takes on the character of a disgraced Michigan State Trooper, Amanda Fisher, who, after the grisly murder of her partner, sets out to find our anti-hero, Ash (played by original franchise star Bruce Campbell), and prove his responsibility for the crime. But as she soon learns, Ash and his buddies may be mankind’s only hope against the plague of Evil Dead.
Formerly one of the co-stars of UPN’s Girlfriends, where she played the selfish and popular Toni, the self-proclaimed “cute one” of the group, you would think Jones would be far removed from the grittiness of police work. However, it would surprise you to know that this is further from the truth. Jones draws strength and inspiration from her own mother who worked as a federal investigator for almost forty years.
“There’s a lot of Amanda I saw that reminded me of my mother. Amanda is fearless, strong, she fights for good, and my mother is a walking, living, breathing example of what a woman could be, and that woman actually raised me. She’s the woman I love so much and I don’t think I would be the woman I am today if it weren’t for her.”
Despite being a strong, bad-ass cop, there is a balance to the character that fans will appreciate. Fisher follows the rules but is able to let her hair down and be human. The three-dimensional nature of the character is what makes her so relatable and authentic.
“As strong as Amanda Fisher is, there’s also this beautiful human side to her. When you see her at the end of the day, no matter how much money you have in life, how much power you have, how much strength you have… at the end of the day, sometimes a girl is just a girl. You see those human moments and I really love that.”
Evil Dead, the Sam Raimi cult classic which started in 1981, introduced us to the world of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text which wreaks havoc upon a group of cabin inhabitants in a wooded area in Tennessee. The franchise has since expanded into other formats such as video games, comic books, and a musical which opened in Toronto in 2003 containing material from all three films. However, for fans wondering if the TV series will change the mood or pace of the franchise, there is nothing to fear.
“It definitely relates to the movies but it’s kind of its own thing. I have to say it’s a continuation, you see Ash is older and where he is in present day and you see the people around him and what his life is like. Then you see the Necronomicon and you know what’s going to happen with that.
The show does the Evil Dead fans correct. I think they did a good job, I think they’re going to be proud. There’s this iconic moment from the movie that the Evil Dead fans will definitely recognize. It’s so amazing because Bruce Campbell is reprising the role of Ash and nobody else can play that character. He’s just so genius.”
Even though Jones is playing a three-dimensional character and found inspiration from her mother, it can still be hard to relate to an African-American character that is written by someone of a different race. According to an article written by Slate on the subject, while there is more diversity in television, this is not being seen in the writer’s room. But for Jones, Amanda Fisher is so well written that this isn’t a problem for her.
“I won’t say it’s hard to relate. Good writing is good writing, but I see movement. Maybe it’s not as fast as I would like it to go in the diversity department, but I see movement. I’m really happy with it all. There is great diversity on television and I’m really proud to be part of that.”
One of the pressures of signing onto a television adaptation is trying to live up to the movies. Stepping into an already established series can be daunting. Fortunately for Jones, this is an entirely original character, thus lessening the burdens of such pressure. But it wasn’t without its fears.
“You know, it’s a bit scary entering into something so iconic; something that people have been waiting on [for so long]. Fans have been waiting on another movie or something and now we’re bringing them a TV show. I just thank God that I’m not reprising a role. The shoes that I’ve been wearing haven’t been worn before, so the amazing Sam Raimi, his directing style is so gentle. He gets what he wants in the shots but he really does make it feel like you’re part of the process. I had the liberty of finding [Amanda] without creative limitations so that was really amazing for me. What I was a bit scared about is that I wanted to make the fans proud because I know they’ve been waiting on something from Evil Dead for a long time. I’m really proud of what’s about to be delivered. I’m really proud of it.”
Ash vs. Evil Dead has been renewed for a second season. The premiere episode will air on Starz on Halloween night.