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INTERVIEW: Bruce Campbell vs Ash vs Evil Dead

InterviewsNikole Gunn

Bruce Campbell
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BRUCE CAMPBELL is a bigger than life character and can fill a room with a self-deprecating laugh as he discusses fan conventions, William Shatner and his on-screen persona Ash Williams from Evil Dead.

He's lived with Ash for 35 years since 1981’s The Evil Dead, taking on the role in two further movies: 1987's Evil Dead II and 1992's Army of Darkness.

Now, he's back in a TV incarnation in Ash vs The Evil Dead with season two in Australia on STAN.

"He hasn't been up to that much in the years since we last saw him in "Army of Darkness".  It's been 25 years since Ash has reared his ugly dumb head.  And we embrace that.  He's middle aged.  He's out of shape.  He wears a man girdle.  He dyes his hair and he wears dentures"
"He's clearly an irresponsible human being.  He gets stoned with a creepy chick with tattoos and reads from the book that he knows he shouldn't read from.  And at a point in his life when he's no longer interested in doing anything responsible, greatness is thrust upon him and he has to save the world from something that he caused. I like that scenario.  I'm all over it like a cheap suit".

Moving to the small screen has allowed creators to spend more time on the Ash back-story, injecting new life into the Evil Dead franchise.

"You know, some series wouldn't survive a gap of 25 years because if you need that 'hero' to be Luke Skywalker, well Luke Skywalker ain't drinking and smoking weed.  You know grabbing butts - that's not his bag.  But this one can.
So, I think this is a very logical continuation of the Ash saga.  Now, you can finally peel back the layers.  He's more than just a 2-dimensional character.  He has to be a hero now.  He has to be the leader.  He has to be loyal and watch out for his people".

With no creative restrictions place on them by the Starz Network, it’s clear Campbell enjoys the goofball element of the show, but makes it clear the humour is an ‘added extra’ of the show.

"Come for the humour, stay for the gore! I've never enjoyed that 'torture porn' that's more disturbing than scary.  
I mean, we do exuberant gore.  We do joyful carnage. That's our approach.  Life is too serious.  I mean, we take the horror seriously.  Our monsters are not funny. We don't let our directors make them goofy or whatever.  They're dangerous and they're lethal".

The introduction of Lee Majors as Ash’s father in season two has also given extra dimension to the show and it’s a strange experience to see an actor known for his ‘squeaky clean’ roles, jump feet first into the world of ‘Slashie-Ashie’.

“Lee had a blast.  He’d never done anything like this before.  This is not in his wheelhouse.  He doesn’t do offensive material.  He doesn’t do blood.  He doesn’t do carnage.  And when we approached him, I think he was like ‘huh’?
But he was smart enough to go ‘let me watch it’.  So, he watched the first season and says he laughed his ass off and jumped on board.
It was the humour that got him, not the horror. I mention that to appeal to the people that aren’t the gore hounds.  And it’s over in half an hour anyway’.

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Production on season 3 gets underway next year, but in the meantime there’s a book in the works; a follow up to 2001’s If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, a movie or two and fan conventions, something Campbell relishes.

“I like interacting with fans.  They don’t creep me out. 90 per cent of them won’t say a word to you.  They wait two hours in line and they don’t say a word.
I tell ya, if I’m going to wait for William Shatner for two hours, you bet your ass I’m going to have something to say to him. 
I tell fans don’t go with the obvious, if you meet Mark Hamill, tell him he was great in Corvette Summer, and he’ll go ‘wow man’. Or the Big Red One, you tell him he nailed it and his eyes will bug out.
With Shatner, I told him how much I loved TJ Hooker. I was so impressed with his “Shatner Power Slide”.  It would be him in the car after doing some really aggressive screeching into a crime scene.  He lit up about that.
And in the pilot of Ash v Evil Dead, Sam Raimi basically wanted me to do one of those in front of a sleezy bar and I did it exactly as Shatner did. The Shatner Power Slide worked”.

More conventions are on the cards and maybe even in Australia – it’s just a jump over the ditch from New Zealand where the show is filmed. 

And if you do line up for two hours to meet him, ask him about a little French movie that he filmed years ago and watch him ‘light up’.

New episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead stream Mondays at 3pm on STAN – same day as the US.