New Starz series “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” extends Sam Raimi’s bloody “splatstick” horror franchise into the millennial world. So what’s new with Ash today? Does he still have his boomstick and attitude? We sat down with star Bruce Campbell and genre legend (and new addition to the “Evil Dead” franchise) Lucy Lawless to discuss the return of the deadites, plus buckets of blood and why “Batman v. Superman” is boring.
This mini-"Xena” reunion happened at the Hero Complex interview suite at San Diego Comic-Con. The full interview is above, but we’ve transcribed some of the meatier parts below.
Bruce Campbell: Ash is a hero with complex issues. He’s an anti-hero -- actually Ash, he’s the non-hero. And when we find him now, 30 years later, he’s way non-hero.
Lucy Lawless: He’s like a heroic schlemiel... And the world is relying on him…
Campbell: To defeat the evil.
And yet he’s still working at the checkout counter, in a trailer. He’s saved the world how many times and he’s just making it by?
Campbell: Well he is human, after all. He has no superpowers. So he’s been hiding from responsibility for all these years, and made a fateful mistake one night. And now he’s opened the Pandora’s box, if you will. And he’s got to try and put it back. And it’s not going to be easy, under the best of circumstances.
Let’s be real: your character in the “Evil Dead” franchise dealt with some truly horrific things -- blood, guts, possession, demons, doppelgänger. How is Ash remotely sane when we pick up now?
Campbell: Well, he’s not! He’s like a veteran. Who’s been though a couple of battles, a couple of skirmishes. So he’s definitely damaged goods, and that’s what attracts me to it. I don’t like characters that are too perfect. What are you going to do with them? That’s my only problem with some superheroes is that they’re too perfect. Batman fighting Superman? To me that’s, sorry Warner Bros., it’s just a mistake. Because most fans are going to go, “Baloney, Superman, in his sleep.”
But now he has special armor.
Campbell: Batman does? Well he’s gonna need it -- he’s fighting Superman! His face is exposed. Punch Ben Affleck in the face, you’re done. Walk away. What’s for lunch?
Lawless: He’s like, “No no not the face, not the face!”
Campbell: Hey, nice try. I’m not buying what they’re selling. Because OK, Kryptonite, well, who’s carrying around Kryptonite? Only Lex Luthor.
Lawless: Ah, Batman’s suit, hello.
Campbell: Batman’s suit is made out of Kryptonite?
Campbell: What a crock. Where’s he gonna get it, on the Internet?
Lawless: You can get anything on the Internet. Kryptonite underpants.
So you’re not buying what they’re selling, so why should people buy what Ash is selling?
Campbell: Because everyone on this planet is Ash, in some way. Everyone’s made stupid mistakes. Everyone’s wasted their life to some degree. Everyone’s lied, everyone’s cheated and stolen just a little bit. Everyone’s failed in some way. That’s your hero. When they look at Ash, they go, “That’s me.” That’s the key reason. I’ve done a lot of research on this. Most of it anecdotal.
And Lucy, what about your character? We met her in the trailer. What can we say about her background? She looks like she knows a thing or two about Evil Dead.
Campbell: She thinks she knows a thing or two.
Lawless: She thinks she knows. Her name is Ruby Knoby, which means she has a long history with the Evil Dead and Ash because her father was the guardian of the Necronomicon originally, our Professor Knoby. She’s been brewing a massive carbuncle of rage and obsession towards this guy.
Campbell: She’s going to blame her crappy childhood on Ash and that’s just a mistake. It’s just a mistake.
Lawless: She’s looking for payback.
Maybe he deserves it.
Campbell: You know, Ruby is a very confused character. She thinks she knows what’s going on; she’s going to learn the truth. She thinks Ash is responsible for this -- well guess what, he is, but that’s not the point. The point is, Ash is not a bad guy. He’s a stupid guy, but not a bad guy. So she’s going to learn that she needs him, I think.
And let’s talk another important element if you’re going to extend Sam Raimi’s work in this franchise, blood. You have to have blood. How much blood did you have on set?
Lawless: Buckets of blood, buckets of blood.
Campbell: This is unrated -- Starz has no rating. Starz has no content restrictions. And I’m being dead serious here, this is one of the main reasons why we went with Starz. We would talk to them about various things when we were meeting the various suitors that wanted to consider doing the show, and there were a few. And one of the key questions was, “What’s your deal creatively, what’s your relationship with the filmmakers creatively, and what are your content restrictions?” And if you take “Evil Dead,” that concept does not want to be restricted. The first two movies have no rating. “Army of Darkness” we had to because that was for a studio. We had talking skeletons -- that shouldn’t have even had an R, as far as I’m concerned. But they work best in an environment where you’re not under any restrictions whatever. And Starz has provided that for us. It’s really a great sandbox to play in, when you don’t have to worry about saying boo-boo words or, “Oh, let’s do another take where it’s cleaner.”
The series will drop on Starz on Oct. 31.