Here’s the thing about interviewing Bruce Campbell, better known as Ash Williams, star of Starz’s (ha! look at that!) new televised take on the Evil Dead movies, Ash vs. Evil Dead. If you’ve got a plan or series of questions: forget ’em and just hang on for the ride. Because really, it’s way more fun that way. Especially when he’s sitting down with his co-star—and total badass in her own right times like, a billion—Lucy Lawless.
After a slightly chaotic start—hey, things can get loud and harried when you’re doing an interview in a restaurant—we got the ball rolling and discussed everything from the series’ incredible stunts, to drinking with Vladimir Putin, why he’s mad at James Bond, and even THE moment that (clearly) broke Bruce’s heart.
Bruce Campbell: What was the question?
The Nerdist: The question was, ‘Rhode Island, neither a road nor an island. Discuss.’
BC: Linoleum. That’s the answer. [To Lucy Lawless] Stick with me, Lucy. I’ll show you a few things.
The Nerdist: So, you guys have been to Comic-Con and TCAs now: what’s it been like, seeing the synthesis of everything—the fans, the show—coming together for the first time?
BC: Those are the reasons why we do what we do, because sometimes if you work hard—I don’t like the word “luck”—but if you work hard and you’re fortunate, sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle. That’s all we try and do, is have those little magic moments. This is a dumb thing to say, but it can actually elevate the human species. Even a horror series because it makes you feel like you’re alive. It makes you feel glad to be alive when you’re done and you’re glad you’re not that person suffering on the strain. These shows are very cathartic for people. It’s like, who has not wanted to kill their boss? A lot of people have wanted to kill their boss—I get to do it. I kill my boss.
The Nerdist: Not a bad gig, if you’ve got a little pent up frustration. What was it like for you, Lucy, joining all of this?
BC: To the madness.
Lucy Lawless: Like getting into a warm bath. It was actually.
BC: Like putting on a smelly old pair of shoes.
LL: They were really nice. Even some of the crew are people that we worked, we all started out in the business ,with and now they’re all at the top of their game.
BC: Twenty plus years.
LL: Somebody who was a junior stunt woman is now a world-class stunt woman and she still decides to come back and cover my ass. [But] the biggest fun is torturing this guy—
BC: Well, my stunt guy’s from Jack of All Trades, one of the shows we did down there. He doubles James Bond now. Ben Cook.
LL: That must feel very complimentary, yeah? Being like, ‘The same guy does Bond, does me.’
BC: Oh, I’m a little pissed at Daniel Craig.
LL: Oh yeah?
BC: He took my stunt guy! Like what the eff?
The Nerdist: Craig [DiGregorio, showrunner] was telling me that some of the action that you’re able to do is even more intense and bigger than what was done in the movies.
BC: Well look at the crews we have. We have the crews for Hercules, Xena, Lord of the Rings, Spartacus, Jack of All Trades—
LL: They’re all the same people who have moved through all those films.
BC: They can do anything. All these people have ever done are stunt-oriented things, effects-oriented, special props, special makeup effects. If you threw this material at a typical crew, they’d probably figure out a way to get through it, but they would struggle. These people are like, ‘Right, stunt rig, got it. Right, blood cannon, got it. Right, viscera ejector, yep got it.’
LL: Pus rig.
BC: Pus rig, got it. She’s worked with pus rigs! They’re very qualified people and that makes it possible. It makes it possible for you to up your game.
The Nerdist: Well, I feel like that’s something that’s so important, when you’re dealing with crossing genres. It’s not only horror, it’s action, it’s comedy. If those things aren’t all operating at the highest level at all times it could come across as potentially disingenuous or campy.
LL: This is not campy.
BC: Well it’s edgy humor is what it is. It’s not really “ha ha humor”—it’s very edgy humor. That’s my favorite kind. I think humor has got to have a little bite to it.
The Nerdist: So I know you probably can’t say much, but can you preview a little bit what’s happening?
BC: It’s a journey. A journey to put the genie back in the bottle. And it’s where that journey takes them. There are many twists and turns. You know, it’s a Dungeons and Dragons, ‘Let’s go find out what’s doing this. Oh it’s not this, it’s that. Oh, it’s not that, it’s this’ thing. [But] it’s a mystery too—we’re solving a mystery. How did this … How do you stop this? How do you stop something that really can’t be stopped and put it in the hands of a loser? I mean, now you’ve got something.
The Nerdist: That’s the magic of it.
BC: Anybody can be a Navy Seal or a CIA or FBI agent. Look: I talked to a Hollywood writer one time, big Hollywood writer. He wrote one of the Indiana Jones movies, a couple of the Lethal Weapon movies. We were talking about the movie Die Hard and I’m like, ‘Why can’t Die Hard, why couldn’t that have been an accountant who’s stuck in that air shaft? Instead of a guy who was a former LA cop?’ The writer looked at me like I was crazy. He goes, ‘Well then how would he win?’ I’m like, ‘You have to be clever. That’s how he wins. He uses his brain.’
The Nerdist: Adaptable.
BC: A guy who’s never fired a gun before? Now I’m interested. I’ll play that role.
LL: Like Falling Down.
BC: Yeah! A regular guy. A guy who just can’t take it anymore. A regular guy! This is Falling Down with carnage of mayhem.
LL: Michael Douglas is fucking genius as a guy who goes postal. Average guy who loses his shit—it’s a great movie.
The Nerdist: Lucy, you have done pretty much every genre. What do you think you’re doing in Ash vs. Evil Dead that’s different from all of that?
LL: Well, it is very different. I think it’s going to develop a lot and in the second season.
The Nerdist: Yeah?
LL: The whole of their first season is setting up what happens in the second, so everything comes to a head and you know it’s going to explode and all the mess is going to have to be picked up in second season.
BC: You just let the cat out of the bag! That was a serious spoiler right there, Lucy—I hope you’re happy. You just told them what the entire second season’s was.
The Nerdist: To be fair, that was pretty vague parade, Bruce.
LL: I’m going to kick his ash.
The Nerdist: So how has your take on the show changed as you’re interacting critics and fans that have seen footage?
LL: When we saw the premiere, the second episode, and the trailer: that was a bloody trifecta right there. Everybody realized we were making something cool. Everybody got religion in that moment. Then Comic-Con happened. We were able to go to Comic-Con with such confidence that what we were about to deal out is going to be immensely rewarding to the fans who have very high expectations.
BC: Just what the doctor ordered for these savages.
The Nerdist: And how are the savages going to feel about Ruby?
LL: I am to be a thorn in his [Bruce’s] side. My character will always be antagonistic and slightly attractive in all the wrong ways to Ash.
BC: I like Lucy. She’s a really nice person [but] her character is confused and I intend to straighten that out.
LL: You know how when a girl likes a boy, she just wants to punch him and the boy thinks she’s mean?
The Nerdist: In middle school? Yes.
LL: [laughs] It’s kind of like Ruby never got out of middle school. She’s gonna punish him.
BC: It was like the day Lenis Boraski took “I love Bruce Campbell” off the front of her notebook. We had an argument out on the playground. She had a little posse of girls, and I had a little posse of guys, and our little posses got in a little bust-up. There was some hair-pulling and some shin-kicking. We got back into that classroom and she was licking the side of her hand and wiping “I love Bruce Campbell” off of her notebook. I was devastated and to this day—I can’t finish that story.
LL: Feel the burn! Feel the burn!
The Nerdist: This is what brought you to this point. This is why you’ve been playing Ash this whole time—you’re making up for Lenis.
BC: Hey are you happy, Lenis? I’m going to quote something. This is very important.
The Nerdist: Alright.
BC: This is how you—[affects a Russian accent] In Russia—This is a tweet. [Russian Accent] ‘In Russia, Ash large like Lenin. Come to Russia. I sing song, you talk to crowd, all applaud.’ So I’m big in Russia. You watch out—Ash vs. Russia.
The Nerdist: Ash could go to Russia. What would Ash do with Putin though? I feel like they could be best buds, or it could go horribly wrong.
BC: Putin would want to do some macho stuff. Ash would use his chainsaw, cut some wood. Putin would probably do it, you know, bare-chested. Only his guys already half-cracked the wood so it wouldn’t be that hard. Yeah. It would work out for him. Ash would drink vodka. We’ll see who can take it, him or Putin. See if he can drink Putin under the table. [Although] I’m afraid if I succeeded in that, his security guys would beat me up. [Russian Accent] ‘What the shit you … Why you put Putin on the floor?’
LL: I’m sure that they could pick him up off the floor. Don’t you think?
BC: Not Putin. No, I don’t think he’s that guy. Boris Yeltsin, yes, but not … No, Putin is-
The Nerdist: He has a robot liver probably.
BC: Putin? No, Putin just is a robot, I think.
Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres Saturday, October 31 at 9PM on Starz. Are you going to tune in? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Credit: Starz
Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of The Nerdist. Find her thinkin’ ’bout Putin (always) on Twitter (@alicialutes).