24 years after the release of Army of Darkness, Ash Williams is back to fight the Deadites once again! With a new Starz series set to air this Halloween, Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Craig DiGregorio, and Sam and Ivan Raimi came to San Diego Comic Con to meet die-hard fans eager for the show’s premiere as well as introduce a new generation to the adventures and misfortunes of the chainsaw-wielding protagonist. After meeting legions of fans in the convention center, the group met with Blast Magazine to discuss their revival of the beloved franchise.
Blast Magazine: It has been 24 years since Army of Darkness was released. What was it like to put on the chainsaw again and revive the role of Ash?
Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams): It’s very exciting but really weird. Everything about it is weird from putting on the stumps to being covered in fake blood. I had forgotten how much I hated fake blood but this definitely made me remember. It’s winter in New Zealand and everything is cold. Trust me, cold blood sucks. A nice warm bath at the end of night is always really nice. Just add some bath salts in there and take me away.
Blast Magazine: You have come to Comic Con in the past for other projects. What is it like coming back this year as Ash?
Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams): It’s special because you’re here for the real deal now. I haven’t come to a Comic-Con for an Evil Dead movie. It’s great and the maximum potential because now people aren’t going to say that I’m the guy who was Ash. Now, I am Ash. It makes people really happy. They’re not looking in the past anymore. My past is my future. Therefore we are in the present. I don’t even know what that means.
Blast Magazine: Lucy, your character Ruby wasn’t in the original films. What can you tell us about her?
Lucy Lawless (Ruby Knoby): Ruby is the thorn in Ash’s side. She is gunning for him and she’s like Jaws. It’s a bit of a slow build but by the end of the season, you’ll know exactly what she’s about. Her name is Ruby Knoby like the holder of the book in the original films, Professor Knoby. She has a family history with Ash and a huge chip on her shoulder. She’s hunting Bruce down. I mean Ash. I can’t help it; they are just so similar.
Blast Magazine: Lucy, what was your motivation to be a part of this project?
Lucy Lawless (Ruby Knoby): I love these guys. My husband [Robert Tapert] dropped out of college with Bruce and Sam to make the Evil Dead movies, so it’s part of the family business. When you marry one of those guys, you marry them all. They quote each other and are very close. At a very formative time in their lives, they were intensely intertwined so it’s fun to be a part of the gang.
Blast Magazine: Evil Dead was released in 1981. Why do you think that 34 years later, Ash is still such a beloved character?
Ivan Raimi (executive producer): I think that people want to believe that they could be a hero, even though they are flawed. They may not be the smartest or bravest or most athletic, but they still think that they could be a hero in their own mind. I think that Ash is easy to identify with and deep down he usually chooses good over evil.
Sam Raimi (executive producer): Unlike Peter Parker, who is a good kid and really smart but just kind of awkward, Ash’s intelligence is challenged and he’s really backward socially. He’s got a lot of real human flaws. It’s kind of like we tell the audience that there are four different monsters that want to destroy them and one human who will fight for them. Who do they want to identify with? Well, the human is an idiot and an egotist, but he’s all you’ve got. The audience is left in a horrible position, but for some reason, they like being stuck with him.
Blast Magazine: The Evil Dead franchise is known for mixing humor and horror. What is the balance of these two genres in this new series?
Craig DiGregorio (show runner): I’m not going to give you a percentage because I don’t think that’s fair. I can say that the horror is real and in those moments when it’s not a specific genre-type scene, we do lean on humor a lot more. Ash is such a great character and Bruce is so naturally funny. Even during the action and horror scenes, Bruce (and Ash) gives such a unique take on what a scene is. You can’t pull Ash out of any scene, so it is naturally going to be funny. There is really horror and action and they’ve really gone all out for this show.
Blast Magazine: Do you think it helped to be a fan of the films before joining this series?
Craig DiGregorio (show runner): It does help to be a fan but you also have to objective. I think I would be doing the franchise a disservice if I said that everything was perfect. There is a long process of talking ideas through. There are certain things that we can add now that I always wanted in the originals. Because of the transition from feature film to television, we do have to adjust certain things we do. In the end, we come to exactly what it should be.
Blast Magazine: Lucy, this is not your first time here. What has your Comic-Con experience been like this year?
Lucy Lawless (Ruby Knoby): It’s been magnificent. When you come to Comic-Con and you have a show that you are proud and confident about, that’s quite different than coming with an unknown entity that you are hoping people like. Everybody already has anticipation for this project. Bruce is fully delighted to be here. This gives the hard-core fans everything they ever dreamed. I’ve seen the first three episodes and they are great. The horror is perfect and the humor is fantastic. It puts those genres together in a really beautiful way and it’s a new type of television.
Blast Magazine: How did you balance creating something for die-hard fans who know everything about Ash and people who have never seen an Evil Dead film before?
Sam Raimi (executive producer): It wasn’t difficult for us because Ash is so dumb and he doesn’t have anything in his life that is too complex for new viewers to understand. He’s basically fighting for his life again against the evil dead but he’s still the same blow-hard, ego-inflated and socially-challenged guy we started with. The show will start 30 years after Army of Darkness and Ash has been hiding out and living this basic life when he reawakens the evil dead again. He is called to service and has to battle with them. The show is definitely focused on moving forward and we aren’t exploring the missing 30 years in the first season.