For its third season, the Starz original series Ash vs. Evil Dead is as wickedly gore-filled as one would expect from chainsaw-wielding anti-hero, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), who is on a mission to save the world from evil. And along with buckets of blood and never-ending gore, Ash is also trying to forge a relationship with his newly discovered long-lost daughter, Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), while working with Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) to defeat the evil that just never seems to want to let Ash go.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Bruce Campbell talked about delving deeper into the prophecy this season, getting to explore Ash as a parent, how the goal of this season is to just blow it all up and what that could mean for future seasons, the fun in playing all dimensions of a character, reuniting with Lee Majors (who plays Ash’s father), which actress would make the ideal mother for Ash, whether there’s anyone Ash wouldn’t sacrifice to save himself, and why he’s so impressed with Episodes 9 and 10.
Collider: Every time you think this show has used up all of its craziness and that there’s no way it could get even wilder and bloodier, it so very much does!
BRUCE CAMPBELL: This is a crazy season!
Were you surprised how wild this season is, or have you come to expect that?
CAMPBELL: I’m one of the producers, so I do know what’s coming. At this point, I just go, “Okay, I can’t wait to see that play out!” It’s more of that now. The most important focus, this season, was not so much Ash in a sperm bank, but it’s more Ash’s journey. He was foretold in an ancient book, and it’s not really a book you want to be in, so why? Why him? What’s he doing? He’s gonna fulfill the prophecy, much more so, this year, even while he’s conflicted and even while he’s in completely over his head. This is a case where Ash cannot call upon any superhero thing. He’s not a brujo. He’s not a demon. He’s a regular person who has been called upon to save the world, otherwise evil will rule the Earth for a thousand years. That’s what we’re exploring a little more. And now that he has a daughter, it’s a huge, important dimension to him. You can see him in a completely different context, trying to be a father, but he’s a crappy father. He’s a present parent, to some degree, but he does bring a lot of death and mayhem with him. They’re gonna bond. It’s great stuff.
How do you feel about getting to explore what Ash is like as a parent?
CAMPBELL: I have a daughter who’s not that far off in age and looks a lot like [Arielle Carver-O’Neill]. You always have to split people apart in adventures and wish them luck, as they go down a tunnel to certain doom. I think there’s some good scenes between us. There are scenes that are unusual for this show. We’re trying to do a little more depth. This year is has carnage and mayhem, and you’re always gonna have that, and you’re gonna have some humor, but there’s also the story. By the end of the 10th episode, nothing will ever be the same. That’s the whole goal of this season. We’re throwing a grenade into the cabin, metaphorically. It’s time to blow it up, and it’s blowing up big.
If that’s the case, are you concerned about a fourth season?
CAMPBELL: Our job is to not betray the viewers because we never know when we’re gonna get canceled. Corporate wheels turn as they turn. I’ve been on shows that got canceled in the off-season and I’ve felt really screwed by that. Now being a part of the filmmaking team, we told ourselves, right from the start, that if this ends, it has to make sense. Even if we get seven seasons, at the end of Season 3, if it ends and we don’t come back, for whatever reason, viewers will be totally good. We’ve got them covered. They’ll be able to okay, “Okay! Yeah! Fuckin’ A!” That’s the goal. And then, if they want more, we would just use that as a springboard for more. It’s a creative and a corporate dance that happens with everybody. I’ve been caught in the middle before, and I don’t like it. It’s not good for the fans. They feel betrayed, and then they’ll have a sour taste for that show. My son won’t recommend Dexter anymore to anyone because of how he feels they screwed up the ending so bad. We’re very sensitive to that, especially with Evil Dead fans. You can screw it up in one season and flush it all down the toilet. I think every season that we do, we’ll end with a closed loop because if that’s it, that’s it. We want you to sit down in your living room and go, “Okay, cool! That’s the end of it.”
Because you are delving into the history more, this season, is what you’re exploring something that you eventually wanted to get to, at some point?
CAMPBELL: You’ve just gotta round out the character and you’ve gotta have somewhere to go. The Evil Dead movies have had not just horror, but time travel, mythology, and Ash as a foretold character. It just adds a new dimension, rather than the same old stuff. It helps him as a character and it puts him way out of his comfort zone. Ash gets to a point where he actually breaks down, this season. He gets to a point where he cannot handle it anymore, and that stuff is so fun to play. Most of the time, you will not let your lead hero freak out, but Ash has a couple of good freak-outs this season. I think there’s some good stuff.
Your Season 3 poster advertises a big monster. What can you tease about how that will play out?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, it’s Cloverfield, at the end! It’s the ultimate. It’s the reckoning. This is it. It’s been foretold and Ash is being tested. The slogan of the season is, “Test the metal of the man.” This is the test, and he’s gonna have to endure it.
Is he more prepared for it now?
CAMPBELL: He’s never prepared for it. He’s never, never, never qualified. He thinks he should put on a false bravado and act like he knows what’s going on, but he’s tap dancing as fast as he can, and this is the wrong time to do that when you’ve gotta save the world.