Season 2 of the fan favorite horror-comedy series Ash vs Evil Dead premieres this Sunday, October 2, on Starz, and brings with it the return of plucky Ashley J. Williams and his team of Ghostbeaters.  When the first season ended, Ash had finally achieved his coveted dream of drunken debauchery in Jacksonville, Florida.  But with Ruby ushering forth her demonic babies into the world, it might not be so easy for Ash to retire from the life of Deadite slaying as he had hoped.

Just ahead of the season 2 premiere, we sat down with Ash’s real life counterpart, the affable, wise-cracking Bruce Campbell, to discuss how it’s been to explore Ash’s journey in television format, the most outrageous situation Ash will find himself in this season, what’s next for Ash, and more. Read on:

I love it. Yeah. Look, I had to lie for years, like, sure we’re going to make another one. We didn’t really know, though, because Army of Darkness bombed when it came out.
Yeah, but it took 25 years. You realize that’s how long ago that movie is? It’s 25 years old. We shot it in ’91, then it got held up for a year because two studios were shouting at each other threatening law suits, and then it came out in ’93, eventually. But it’s been good because we were thinking of another movie when Rob Tapert, who’s our other partner besides Sam Raimi, Rob had done a lot of TV. Had just done Spartacus for Starz, and I had just finished up Burn Notice, so we were TV guys now. I was just as much of a TV guy as a movie guy. And we approached Sam like, “Hey, this might have a better life as a show. Starz is available, they might be interested. Spartacus had unrestricted content; they’re offering unrestricted content.” And so Sam had to get his head around tweaking the story, writing a pilot, and then telling a bigger story. So he had to twist his head around that, but he wasn’t against it. And I think he’s kind of digging it now; you can tell a much longer story. This season Ash goes home, we’re going to meet his old girlfriend, his father; we never knew any of that with Ash. Ash is like a teacher; you never saw him after school. You only knew a little bit about him. It’s awesome, but now you’ve got to invest if it’s a TV show, because over time you have to give a shit about these people. Even though Ash is an idiot, you still have to be rooting for him. That he’s enough on the side of good that people will be like, Ok, I’ll tolerate this idiot because he’s at least trying very hard. So I think the format of a half hour works too, because the pace can stay up. It can be half comedy half scary. If it was an hour long, boy, the pace would just die.
That was Rob’s idea.
That was a brilliant idea, because look, the number one rule of entertainment is always leave them wanting more. At an hour we’d be compared to a bunch of other shows. Pace would grind to a halt. No, a half hour is good. Modern day attention spans; half hour is fine. And now here’s the other thing, viewers should realize this: it’s a full half hour. It’s not 22 minutes. The reason why they end an act with a dramatic break is they need you to come back after the commercial. And those breaks have nothing to do with the dramatic structure of your show. They were designed for commercial cutaway. So writers have always been forced to write with a commercially based structure. Not dramatically based. Now we can say to our writers, man, you’ve got 30 pages and there’s no Chevy ads. You don’t have to build a false end to a scene. When you watch our show it doesn’t feel like a half hour. It doesn’t feel like an hour, but it feels like more than a half hour.
Watch it again. I tell people to turn around and watch it again. We try and do stuff that is watchable. And more than once.
It’s the pace that I love. It can never go fast enough for me. I’m ready, first take; boom. Roll. Let’s shoot the rehearsal. Go. You can’t go fast enough; TV is very addicting.
Oh, you work on a movie, you want to hang yourself. It goes so slow. You read these giant books. Every actor on Oz the Great and Powerful was reading literally like War and Peace. James Franco was reading a giant book while they were rigging this harness to him that was going to take like 40 minutes to rig on him, so he was like I’ll just stand there while they’re hoisting me about and just read this giant book. Because every shot takes hours to set up. Big movies are not that exciting to work on. Like not at all. They’re incredibly tedious. And poorly scheduled. Everybody works 18 hours, it’s, uh, I don’t get excited about working on big movies. I’m very happy working on low budget movies because they’ve got to move. They’ve got to get it done. Quit dicking around, let’s go, make a decision, boom. That take was good, go. So they’re much less masturbatory. And TV? Let’s go!
In New Zealand, if you ask for overtime the crew can say yes or no. And they’ll say, “Oh no, we’re fine.”
Oh my God! When I first directed down there, on my first day of shooting down there I asked for a half an hour of overtime. And they all huddled, all the heads of departments, and they come back and they go, “OK, but you’re new. We don’t really do this.” I was like, ok, got it. So it makes you really disciplined. So I’d get a shot list for that day of shooting and I’d give it to the assistant director, and I’d say, “You put the times next to those scenes of when I’ve got to be on those scenes and done with those scenes so that I can make this day where we pull the plug.” You’re 7am to 7pm. In Auckland, New Zealand, this is my fourth TV show down there. Every night at 7:30 I can go out to dinner with my friends. Your life is planned; it’s normal. Because they’re like, “Let’s get out of here, what do ya say?” You know? Put in your full day of work, and they do- the Kiwis are great, hard workers. You’ve got them all day, and they’re busting their butts because they know they’re getting out of there. If you know you’re working 18 hours, you’re not rushing to do anything. You’re moving as slow as you possibly can, because you’re never getting out of there. And you know you’re not. It’s like Communism. Why should I go faster? Why should I work harder? In America, you can’t say no or they’ll fire you.
It is. No. It’s rational! I feel like I’m working in a regular job. Filmmakers love this bullshit; the young ones are all “we had 18 hour days!” You know what that means to me? It means you don’t know what you’re doing. If you know what you’re doing, there’s no reason to go past 12 hours. And 12 hours is already 4 hours longer than everybody else is working. You’re an actor! Why do you want to exhaust yourself? Do you want to show up to work the next day looking wiped out?
Oh yeah. Fights, everything.
Too much to do. I have acted and directed before, it’s just a lot of homework. Something just always tends to suffer. You get it all worked out as a director, then you get home and go, “Oh crap. I have not looked at my dialogue.” You know, because you’ve been busy doing something else. Or vice versa. You concentrate on your dialogue and then haven’t really thought through how you want to shoot your scene or whatever. So, I’ve done it, and it can be very rewarding, but I’m so busy being Ash that there’s not much room for that.
You got to let it go eventually. It’s going to linger; it’s going to leave a mark. It’s another dashed dream, another deal gone bad. Just another day in Ash’s life. You know; you move on.
Good! Good, great. Spread it around, the more the merrier.
Episode 2, I’m participating in probably the most outrageous sequence I’ve ever done in my life. I think the fans are going to dig it. You make decisions against your better judgement knowing you’ve got to shoot the damn thing. It’s one thing on paper; it’s another thing to, you know, have a fight with a possessed colon.
As you should. Because if you’re dealing with the quote unquote Underworld, how many layers is that? Because if you have Greek mythology, think of all those characters involved from that, and then you have the abilities and powers. If you’ve unleashed this crap that’s long dormant, now you’ve got to be asking what do they want? We want to put the genie back in the bottle, that’s easy, but they’re like, OH, well, we’re here now. What are we going to do? You always have to throw big challenges at our heroes.
I can’t do this show in a wheelchair.
Nice. God bless ‘em. Well, you know what it is, you always got to find the point where you will hit viewer ennui. I get a lot of people who think Burn Notice was 5 seasons. I tell them, no, that was 7. Which really meant that they stopped watching after 5. I get it. They’re like, “Wow, 7 huh?” Yeah, there are two other seasons you didn’t watch. So it will hit that point, but thankfully the fans are currently insatiable. Starz is trying to build a brand, so we have a good partner. We caught them at a good time; they’re not a fading star. Starz just merged with Lionsgate, there’s a new sheriff in town.
You get to see how when he goes back to his home town they don’t really want him there. He’s an urban legend. He’s Ashy-Slashy, now. Yeah, the kids are whispering about him now. He’s a Ted Bundy; he’s a serial killer. It affects his family, and his father used to have a store. It went down the shitter because no one wants to deal with that guy’s father. So he’s created an unsavory ripple effect through his whole town. It’s not the happy homecoming. And he’s going there to save them.
Yeah, it’s great. This show does have enough layers that I think they’ll keep coming back. Because we’re trying to sell the humanity of it; they are like a family, Ash would die for those two (Pablo and Kelly). And they would die for Ash, now. Those are good bonds, and that’s what will hopefully keep that dynamic working.
They just want it all (Laughs). They want it all, and they want it unrestricted, because the first two Evil Dead movies were unrated. That’s what most people don’t remember. So they really don’t want to cut away. And they’ll decide when to look away, they don’t want someone else to decide that for them. We want the filmmakers to decide that. It’s not about being gratuitous, it’s about a joyful carnage and mayhem. It’s just a show! It’s splatstick.
We’ve only really just begun. Because, above and beyond, and I’ve reminded the writers of this, he is foretold in an ancient book. You can say that he’s an idiot or a philanderer, or he smokes crack or whatever, but whatever he does- he’s foretold. So there is a reason behind all of this. So we need to find out who he really is, what his destiny is. There’s a little Luke Skywalker going on.
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