In Ash vs Evil Dead’s season-two finale, it appeared Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, had finally won. The chainsaw-handed demon fighter defeated Ruby and vanquished evil. Deadites were exposed to the general public. In the aftermath, Ash’s hometown, Elk Grove, lauded him a hero. He even opened a hardware store and settled into an ordinary, mundane life.
When SYFY Wire visited Ash vs Evil Dead’s New Zealand set last June, that simpler existence had been ripped apart. Production on the 10th episode – and season finale – was underway. Elk Grove had been transformed into a war zone. Overturned cars and debris littered the streets. A maelstrom of smoke and dust filled the air. Army tanks and vehicles inched forward as military soldiers barked orders. And, in the middle of all the chaos, Ash prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends and estranged daughter, Brandy, who was introduced earlier in the season premiere. How it all plays out would constitute a major spoiler, but the battle between good and evil doesn’t get more epic than this.
During a break from filming, Campbell spoke with SYFY Wire about Ash’s parenting skills, the return of Evil Ruby, doppelgangers, and sperm banks.
Ash seemed to have achieved a level of happiness and normal life. How does he get sucked back into this supernatural mayhem again?
He gets sucked back in because he hasn’t finished his business. It starts off with him as the hometown hero, doing local shitty ads on TV for a hardware store/sex-toy emporium. That’s what he’s thinking he will be doing for the rest of his life. Pablo has a fish and chips stand. Kelly has disappeared. She’s gone AWOL. She’s going to show up later, but we are trying to carry on as normal, everyday life in a small town.
And then something happens. This year, evil is coming after his family. They are like the mafia. Can’t get Ash, get his family. We’re going to discover Ash has a daughter, which provides great dynamics. Ariel Carver-O’Neill is really sweet and perfect. There’s going to be good character development. Ash not only has to save the world, he has to raise a daughter.
How does Ash process that he has a teenage daughter?
Poorly. He has no skills. He can’t even take care of himself. It’s a long road ahead for him, having to be responsible enough to protect his daughter, let alone raise her. He’s just trying to make sure she isn’t going to die. If he does a shitty job parenting, that’s one thing. But it’s another thing to actually have your daughter die. It’s a pretty big season for deaths. I don’t think any of us get off this season. Everyone dies this season.
How rewarding has it been exploring a softer side of Ash?
You can’t always be a smarmy one-liner guy. In television it’s mandatory, because you are going for a much longer ride with these people. It’s not an hour and a half. You have to take people on a bigger story. We are going to do more of the myth this year by introducing the Knights of Sumeria. It’s a demon-fighting group that Ash didn’t know about. They are aware of him. He’s not aware of them. They are a little more mythical. You have to do stuff that will help the audience relate to the lead character. A lot people out there have children. So when you put them in peril, you go, “Shit. What about him? What about his kid?” And it helps Ash be more responsible and more well-rounded. That’s the beauty of television. You can take a character and take them from being a two-dimensional character and start building a three-dimensional character.
How does Ruby compare to Baal as a villain?
Ruby is all bad. There’s no equivocation. She’s just a bitch goddess. She needs to pay. She needs to die. That’s very likely.
But Ruby puts Ash through his paces?
She does, because she gets into the mind of my daughter, masquerading as a school counselor. That’s what I have to deal with, is getting my daughter to believe what I’m saying, which sounds ridiculous. Every time she catches me in a situation, it’s a severed head in hand, blood on the floor. … “I didn’t do this. It was the other me.” Ash has doppelgangers running around, which causes trouble. Ruby gives birth to another Ash to screw with him.
With Ash doppelgangers running amok, what was it like playing multiple versions of the character?
It’s fun. It’s all about being creepy. And sometimes being nice and friendly is being creepy. Again, as the creepy guy, he has to gain his daughter’s trust and then fuck with it, because that’s what creepy guys do. But creepy guys can be very charming. He’s not insidious unless he has to be. That’s usually one second before he kills you.
How do you top all the previous blood and guts?
The trick is don’t try. Don’t try. It’s hard to top being pulled up a cadaver’s butt. So the trick is you try and make the story compelling. Along the way, you are going to have set pieces. We have a fight in a sperm bank, with Ash’s own sperm, because he’s been donating for years. That’s how he makes money. Guys donate blood. They donate sperm. That’s what cheap, low-grade guys do. And he’s trying to find out if he has any other children. And who used his sperm? He’s kind of curious about that.
There’s a fight with a headless corpse, with a demon baby inside the corpse animating it. That’s a very bizarre fight. We have a lot of weird fights. We have a two-headed creature fight. We have a rift.
The writers pulled out all the stops for the finale. It’s a game-changer in a lot of ways. What was your reaction to the script?
Hopefully, it will drop your little jaw. I thought, “It’s about fucking time. Let’s move on. Let’s get to the myth, full-on.” He’s not just a guy raised in a trailer park. He’s not just some loser. He was written, foretold, in an ancient book. His picture is in an ancient book. It’s time to pay that off. Ash has defeated evil in the past and the present. Now it’s time to defeat it in the future. That’s what is ahead for him. Hopefully it’s a jaw-dropper.
How disappointed will you be if there isn’t another season to pay that off?
I won’t be disappointed, because we already won. We’ve convinced a multinational corporation to give us tens of millions of dollars to resurrect this franchise. If people haven’t found it by the end of Season 3, then things are just going to play out how they play out. Usually, my theory about the Evil Dead fans is they are good, loyal fans, but they are slow and download illegal shit. If they added up the numbers from the illegal downloads, I bet we would be as good as any show on television. The good news is we have rabid fans. The bad news is these fuckers download shit and don’t pay for it.